Odessa and Sloviansk -- These Names Will Be Remembered as the Pretext to a Russian Invasion and Takeover of Southern and Eastern Ukraine

Update:  May 5, 2014: 

Russia's Putin outlaws denial of Nazi crimes
MOSCOW Mon May 5, 2014 12:14pm EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday making the denial of Nazi crimes and distortion of the Soviet Union's role in the World War Two a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail.

The law, described by critics as an attempt to curb freedom of expression to appease conservative Russians, the ex-KGB spy's main support base, also criminalizes the public desecration of war memorials.

It has become increasingly risky for Russians to dispute an official line that glorifies the wartime achievements of the Soviet leadership and plays down its errors.

The new law would ban "wittingly spreading false information about the activity of the USSR during the years of World War Two" [emphasis mine].

See http://beacon2light.blogspot.com/2014/04/russian-invasion-appears-imminent.html  for links concerning other Russian freedoms seemingly going up in smoke

Moldova Puts Borders on Alert Amid Ukraine Unrest
CHISINAU, Moldova May 5, 2014 (AP)

Four Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and an army helicopter shot down by pro-Russian militants near the eastern city of Sloviansk, Kiev says.  Casualties were also reported among the rebels. The rebels/separatists retreated further into the city's center.
Update May 4, 2014:

Russia apparently moving some significant fighter/bomber power onto the Crimean peninsula. But, you know, Russia has no plans to invade. Putin told us. Besides, those uniforms without insignia in Crimea weren't Russians until Putin said later that they were Russians so we can TOTALLY take the man's word for it, right?

Russian bombers, fighter jets 'seen over Crimea'


Voices from Odessa: 'Nobody expected this'

When violence broke out in Odessa, Ukraine, on Friday, it culminated in a fire at the city's Trade Unions House that caused the deaths of more than 30 people.

The next morning, people in the south-western port city spoke to the BBC about Friday evening's events and the scene they awoke to.

There is still confusion among residents and visitors over the unrest - and shock that such things could happen in Odessa.

From the article:  

Odessa is the largest city along the entire Black Sea, the 5th largest city in Ukraine and arguably the most important city of trade. Many years ago, Odessa was once the 3rd leading city in old Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg [emphasis mine].

Today Odessa has a total population of about 1.1 million people. The city's trades include that of shipbuilding, chemicals, oil refining, food processing and metalworking. Odessa also has a naval base and several fishing fleets, which adds to the cities economy.

Russian is the primary language spoken in Odessa, however, Ukrainian is the official language and many advertisements and signs are written in it. English is the most widely used tourist language.

My guess as to what will happen: 

I think the above two stories will be the pretext of the launching of the Russian invasion.  Russia will especially highlight the Trade Union fire and deaths in Odessa, no doubt.  I predict, Lord help me to be wrong, that they will take the entire south of the country away from Ukraine, blocking all access to the Black Sea. In addition, Russian troops would capture the industrial east. Since much of this territory is Russian majority speaking or has a sizable ethnic Russian minority, as I understand it (see BBC graphics in link here, also note the water pipeline leading to Crimea that I believe would then be in a pro-Russian state's hands), this should be fairly easy. 

If the Russians then re-install the elected president who fled to Russia to the presidency of the new-born nation (out of Ukraine's eastern and southern regions), they could argue that they are just undoing a great injustice to democracy and freedom. I would suspect that they would also, in the "interest of peace" allow the pro-European Ukraine to choose its own destiny as long as it wasn't to join NATO. There would be an underlying threat, unspoken but clear to all, that seeking to join NATO would lead to a second conflict and the potential loss of all of Ukraine. This would, in Russia's mind, be a great sacrifice and a very merciful action since they would be "justified" in taking all of Ukraine and re-installing the previously elected president. However, the real reason would be that they wouldn't want to be responsible for security in a country that would be hostile to a Russian troop presence and a puppet regime installed by Russia.  

I would highly doubt that Putin would annex these areas even if the majority asked for it as he would seek to divide the West by his supposedly generous and merciful actions (and from my observations of Western weakness, I'm afraid that strategy will work). The newly formed country will be independent on paper only.  Also, what was left of Ukraine would be much poorer and thus less likely to be a serious threat to Russia ever with the loss of the south and east (access to ports on the Black Sea, loss of Crimea, and loss of the industrial east). The newly formed country would be very generous with Russia in access to now Russian Crimea and in contracts that would help Russia in its absorption of Crimea (i.e. provision of utilities, etc).  

I think that the West has lost all opportunity to prevent the above scenario or an even worse one when sanctions became the only trick in its bag.  Russia will want to make a new Warsaw Pact (obviously not called or including Warsaw but hearkening back to that era) to counter NATO and to send a message that it cannot be pushed around.  If the West were honest, it would see that eastern expansion of NATO up to Russia's and Ukraine's borders wasn't wise and gave fuel to the paranoia of the Russian bear.  So, like it or not, we (the West) are partially responsible for Ukraine's present trials.  

Russian relations with China must be watched as well as we very well could have a déjà vu scenario of a European and Asian power (remember Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) rapidly arming themselves, threatening their neighbors and then acting in the face of Western weakness.  The West needs a long-view, looking ahead 5, 10, 15 or 20 years from now and what the world, the balance of powers, alliances and actions may mean for the future of us all. Then we need to act to prevent the possibility, understanding that words, whining at UN Security Council meetings and reducing our military are not ways to make the Russians and Chinese reconsider their plans.   

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