17 april 2014, and the beast goes on

The ukraine crisis has taken several steps forward, or backward if the concept of ukraine functioning as a viable sovereign state is the objective. A rather soft attempt at a central government show of force backfired spectacularly when armoured personnel carriers sent in were quickly surrendered. The pro-russian forces occupying ever more buildings in "the east" of the country have all the momentum. Whilst clearly russia is complicit, it is clearly too tapping into a strong well of identification with russia that goes back to the perplexity of many russians of the soviet union waking up one day 20 years ago to be told they now lived in the independent state of ukraine. Still umbilically attached to russia until very recently, it didn't really matter all that much. The importance of the november (2013) revolution though is real, and, as timothy garton ash notes, amplified by a neo-soviet combination of violence and the big lie to dismember a neighbouring sovereign state. As he also notes, putin is not without his supporters around the world. To expect a crimea-style invasion is probably a step too far, but with the kiev-based state unable to make its writ run and nato unlikely to support militarily (russian menace being enough to ensure that) the emergence of some combination of south ossetia type "independent states" under the fig-leaf of federalisation of the country looks increasingly like ukraine's fate. This is a split in all but name and a massive blow for the world as we have known it these last 20 years. If georgia was the dress rehearsal, ukraine is becoming the first night - but how long will this play run, and in what venues ?