The imperial brinkmanship in Ukraine escalated this week.
Pro-Russian protesters, assisted by men in camouflage uniforms, seized control of government buildings in half a dozen towns in east Ukraine.
The protesters took control of a police station and an airfield as threatened
Ukranian military action failed to materialise as Socialist Worker went to press.
Eastern Ukraine seems to be spinning out of the control of the central government.
The governor of major eastern industrial city Donetsk, a multi-millionaire appointed by Ukraine, has not been seen in a week.
A man calling himself Donetsk’s new police chief appeared on the protests wearing orange and black separatist ribbons.
Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksander Turchynov, said there would be a military crackdown. But he then sacked the state security chief in charge of the operation.
Turchynov also offered to hold a referendum on the constitution—a demand of Russia and the protesters which the government had previously resisted.
He said he was confident that supporters of federalisation, Russia’s preferred
solution, would be defeated in a vote, which he said could be held on 25 May.
The war of words from the major imperialist powers continued. Ukraine says the separatists are organised by Russia, seeking to repeat the seizure of the Crimea region. Russia says they are locals acting on their own.
One US diplomat said that arming Ukraine was now a possibility. “Obviously we are looking at that as an option”.
The US denounced the “buzzing” of a US Navy vessel in the Black Sea by a Russian jet fighter on Saturday.
CIA director John Brennan was in Kiev for talks at the weekend.
But formally the US has said, “We’re not actively considering lethal aid.”
Tory foreign secretary William Hague said there would have to be further sanctions, but other countries were cautious and urged the European Union to hold off until crunch talks set for Thursday of this week.
Meanwhile Ukraine has formally stopped paying Russia for gas supplies.
Ukraine is also facing economic disarray.
The central bank nearly doubled its overnight interest rate to 14.5 percent.
Ukraine’s currency has lost 38 percent of its value against the dollar.
Meanwhile the potential for the situation spiralling out of control remains.