This was a mistake by the rioters.
In the case of a truly anarchic situation, this will allow Russian-Ukrainian separatists to appeal to Putin. Would Putin be crazy enough to try to carve out Eastern Ukraine away from Ukraine the same way he intervened and carved out 2 provinces from Georgia? It's a disturbingly similar situation. In the East, they'd probably welcome him with flowers.
The rioters should see they are not gaining anything by upping the ante to full anarchy. This is where I'd wonder if Putin has agents provocateur working among the rioters. Full anarchy favors Russian interests, rather than an intelligent opposition that amicably achieves greater independence for Ukraine.
@petzl I don't think there is much chance of full anarchy in Ukraine. The anarchists are not major players in maidan and everyone else likes Nestor Makhno for his nationalist ideas rather than his anarcho-communist actions.
Or is this a case of you saying anarchy when you mean chaos.
Holy cow, things are moving fast. If you need to catch up on what has happened in less than a week, start here (in just 4 days they went from nearly 100 people being killed with police sniping at opposition politicians to an early election deal to Yanukovych running from the capital and being impeached):
This was pretty much my first thought as well. Ukraine is about to get carved up. The Russian speakers are going to go into revolt, and Russia is going to step in to protect them. Once this happens, it is over. The Ukrainian speakers are going to flee, making an even more homogeneously Russian zone.
You might recall that both Georgia and the Ukraine were looking to get into NATO. This exact scenario is why. NATO couldn't help them with their internal rebellions, but NATO could have provided a shield against Russian soldiers walking across the border and helping the rebels. As it stands, if Russia decides to walk over into Russia, there is exactly nothing the Ukraine can do about it.
Your weakest assumption is that there ever was any intelligent opposition that wasn't just a pawn of foreign interests (or the army of west Ukrainian neo-nazi radical organizations).
And the award for Actually Knowing What One Is Talking About goes to...
I nominate Stephen Cohen for having a pretty good idea of what was coming. Note that current events show that Dr. Cohen was right on the money, even though that debate happened almost a month ago.
The Russian will invade, and if the West intervenes, there will be a new European war...with the US treaty-bound to join. This is how world wars start.
They aren't in NATO. There is no treaty that would require US or European intervention. A couple of years ago the Ukraine tried to join NATO, but it was never completed before Yanukovuych regained power (and he would have almost certainly exited NATO even if it happened). There is certainly a real threat that western European nations and the US would intervene if Russia invades. I think this threat is primarily based on deterring an invasion. But yes, if a civil war starts, it isn't implausible that a proxy war could begin with the US and other NATO nations fighting against Russia.
I meant that we could be dragged in if other NATO countries intervene. But I think we'll see s quick Russian invasion before anyone can respond. Putin will create facts on the ground and then dare anyone to interfere. Ukraine as a nation is dead.
Sure, if US continues to fan the flames of this uprising and a real civil war erupts Russia would most likely be obliged to intervene. This is their doorstep and the people, at least those in the east and south Ukraine, are pretty much relatives. If after this the US persists in interfering things could get real ugly real soon.
Better hope the action, if any, is decisive enough to get this resolved quick.
Ukrainians are as independent from Russia as Canadians are from the USA. To a non-Northern-American, Canadians seem not so different than Americans; but they are. They identify with their own things, their country, their families. They view themselves as no more American than a Thai person does.
Ukraine is the same story. They may "look" Russian, but they are anything but Russian. They won't willingly be assimilated into Russia, no matter what their political affiliation. If Russia walks over the border, the protests will continue, raging ever harder. If they can't have free elections and choose their future, they would rather die. Wouldn't you?
I consider them the canary in the coal mine. Brave canaries. Because what's happening in Ukraine is a dress-rehearsal for what's going to happen in the USA if the robber-barons and police state continue to beat people down. We'll do the same thing, and face even worse brutality because the USA has the most vile weaponry in the world.
For that reason, I'm following closely what happens in Ukraine, wondering in the back of my mind how best to take a stand here against the powers that keep people in poverty and unfree.
You're dreaming. The Czechs were waaaaay less Russian-oriented, yet folded under Russian tank tracks, the Ukranians will too.
What was a mistake, exactly? The agreement amongst the government with itself that they should all go home and stop fighting and everyone who was in power should remain there?
Or the refusal by the people on the ground to except a raw deal that gives them almost nothing?
Because the people who fought and died didn't do so just to re-establish the status quo.
They have already had a revolution once where they fell for the whole "government makes agreement with itself on the part of the revolutionaries", and that didn't exactly work out for them.
The only region it seems like they have ANY chance of losing here is Crimea, and Crimea will only secede IF Russia backs off, since they have no desire to be part of Russia either.
The only "mistake" here was by Yushchenko to turn this into a civil war, and the politicians who thought they could "negotiate" for people they don't have any actual control over and who have no intent of listening to them.
What you're forgetting is that this is 2014 not 1968. We can see unusual troop movements from space long before they cross a border and head for a capital. Also, Europe and the USA are watching, and won't hesitate to yank the plug on the steady stream of goods flowing into Russia. It's a much fuller picture, with many more moving parts than 50 years ago. It's not going to happen the same way as with the Czechs.
Well the Iraqis (or the Vietnamese, just for good measure) were even less American oriented yet fodder under the US tanks (also compare the casualty/collateral damage numbers just for fun).
Hey, I too can compare unrelated events!
Russia != Soviet Union
Russia today has only half the population of the Soviet Union when it broke up. It lacks the backing of the Warsaw Pact, which no longer exists. And it has a much, much smaller army.
Ukraine != Czechoslovakia
Ukraine != Georgia
The Ukraine has three times the population of Czechoslovakia (at the time it broke up) and 10 times the population of Georgia. It is also four times larger by area than Czechoslovakia and nine times larger than Georgia.
Given that Russia's performance in Georgia and Chechnya were not stellar given the massive over match, I would think they would be reluctant to rush into a fight that is 10 time bigger. I am sure Russia could defeat the Ukraine but it would take everything they have and if the Ukraine put up a fight, it would be a bloody one - the largest war in Europe since WWII. If it didn't draw in the west directly, it would certainly draw sanctions and western military aid. Russia might win but at a terrible cost. Let's hope saner heads prevail.
You're missing the point:
West-Ukranian neo-nazi != Ukraine
If Russia intervenes, it would be on behalf and at the request of Ukrainian east and south, and would likely have most of Ukrainian military on it's side. So the op would be largely a mop-up of the west. Now guerrilla warfare is messy business, and would likely take a very long time. However the scale is nowhere near what you described.
p.s. Personally I don't think any of this would happen. Ukrainian east and south has all of the industry/finances of the country. The whole conflict will be decided on the economic battleground.