In Background, Digest, Ukraine
Map shows area where Russian language (blue) and Ukrainian language (orange) are spoken by majorities. Pink area is the Crimea Peninsula.

Map shows area where Russian language (blue) and Ukrainian language (orange) are spoken by majorities. Pink area is the Crimea Peninsula.

April 25, 2014–The following is a summary of several of the more informative news items to appear in recent days on the dramatic events unfolding in Ukraine, sparked by the stepped up threats against Russia and the people of eastern Ukraine by the government in Kiev and the NATO military alliance.

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BBC reporters in several towns in Ukraine are flatly contradicting the claims by the Ukraine government about its new military offensive announced on April 23. There have been clashes, but Ukraine forces have not taken public buildings and life is calm in the cities supposedly under attack. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27138300.

The renewed offensive was launched in the immediate aftermath of the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden, just as the original government offensive announced on April 15 followed a quiet visit to Kiev of CIA Director John Brennan. That earlier one quickly broke down when Ukrainian troops came up against the fact they were not confronting “terrorists” but rather unarmed civilians.

And reporting from Warsaw, the Globe and Mail‘s Mark MacKinnon wrote two days ago, “Despite the ramped-up rhetoric, there were few signs Wednesday of the renewed Ukrainian military operation in Donbass. The Interior Ministry claimed its troops had “liberated” the town of Svyatogorsk, but reporters there said residents claimed they had never been under rebel occupation. Ukrainian military vehicles were filmed in the city of Izyum, just outside the Donbass area.”

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia Today television yesterday: “Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation. If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia, I do not see any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law.” Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-crisis-harper-to-send-up-to-500-election-monitors-1.2618739

Here is another of the informative insights into Ukraine by U.S. academic Nicolai Petro into the present situation in Ukraine. It’s an interview he gave four days ago: http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20140421/index.html

Among the insights Petro provides:
* The hardening of the rightist character and actions of the Ukraine gov’t, including its rapid breaking of last week’s accord in Geneva and its quick withdrawal of a proposal it recently made for a referendum on a federal political structure for the country.
* The government is recruiting to its police and national guard from the rightist gangs in the Maidan. (Media reports strongly point to a rightist militia as responsible for the assault and killing of three protesters at a protest checkpoint in Slavyansk early on April 20.)
* A strong political consensus for autonomy is emerging in eastern Ukraine. This is very much at odds with the simplistic claim that the protest movement is “seperatist” and “pro-Russian”. Of course, there are many people in eastern Ukraine who do not wish for greater autonomy because they do not want closer ties with Russia. Nothing can be black and white in a region so politically, historically and culturally complex.

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