Eastern Offensive Picks Up: Is Ukraine Headed Toward Civil War?

Growing Anger as Both Sides Bury Their Dead

by Jason Ditz, May 06, 2014

Multiple funerals around eastern Ukraine and Odessa added a somber undertone to the ongoing protests and the military offensive against the protests, with a growing sense that the chances of a negotiated settlement are evaporating.

With scores killed Friday and over the weekend, Monday and Tuesday saw more of the same, with troops attacking the city of Slovyansk in the east, reports of dozens killed on each side, and the interim government scrambling to install anti-protester leaders in and around Odessa.

A week ago, both sides seemed to figure they had the other outfoxed, with the Ukrainian military figuring the protesters would eventually capitulate and the protesters figuring the Russian troops deployed just across the border would prevent Ukraine’s ramshackle military from trying anything too aggressive against them. Both were wrong.

Talks were looking less and less likely, and now seem virtually impossible, with the government ruling out letting the protesters attend the talks at all, and Russia ruling out participating without them.

Instead, in the absence of negotiations, protesters demanding reforms morphed into civil unrest and in some parts of the country a full-scale rebellion. Easterners see the government as too closely aligned with neo-Nazis, and the government has declared the ethnic Russian easterners “terrorists,” recruiting the neo-Nazis into an irregular force to attack them. A civil war seems not only possible, but increasingly difficult to avoid.

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