— hedgefundinvest (@hedgefundinvest) February 22, 2014
While the US media gets lost in disaster porn the reality of what is going in the Ukraine is being ignored, a divided country is having trouble standing. After President Yanukovych fled there were great celebrations as a legally questionable session of the Ukrainian Parliament removed him from office. Now an arrest warrant has been issued by the opposition accusing Yanukovych of “mass murder of peaceful citizens”.
But the question remains what are the Russians going to do now that forces backed by the United States and European Union have overthrown the government they were backing?
“We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens,” Russian media quoted Dmitry Medvedev as saying. “There are big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there.”
It seems rather unlikely that Russia is going to accept a pro-US/EU government lying down, let alone one that came to power violently. Russia sees Ukraine as part of its sphere of influence and while US officials ask Russia not to send in troops echoes of the Republic of Georgia conflict ring out where the US offered strong condemnations for a Russian invasion but no actual military response. What will the US actually do if Russia invades Ukraine?
What is not being widely reported in Western media is that a large portion of the Ukrainian population see themselves as aligned with Russia – speak Russian, have relatives in Russia, and have no love for the US or EU. East Ukraine is majority Russia speaking and is the base of Yanukovych’s support, it’s unlikely that the people there are particularly happy to see the man they voted for get ousted.
So what happens next? The old two countries under one state model seems unworkable given recent events. If there is a breakup with Western Ukraine joining the European Union and Eastern Ukraine joining Russia can it happen without full scale military combat?
The story is far from over, the overthrow of the Yanukovych government was just the beginning.