(Global Post) Moscow — Russian officials likely are watching with consternation as the country they’re hoping to pull further into their orbit teeters on the brink of uncontrollable chaos.
The death toll from violence in Ukraine’s capital this week surged past at least 67 on Thursday, the bloodiest day to date in the monthslong political crisis.
Last December, Russia may have celebrated winning over embattled President Viktor Yanukovych by offering a $15-billion aid package and steep discounts on natural gas.
But observers say that was a payoff for snubbing Europe that came with expectations the Ukrainian leader would restore order in his besieged capital.
Now, amid the rapid escalation of unprecedented violence and the very real prospect of civil war, the Kremlin appears stuck with a man who’s losing control. It begs the question: What will Russia do next?
Yanukovych's grip unraveling
“If this escalation continues, nobody knows where it’s going to stop,” said Arkady Moshes, of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “You can think of dozens of things which Russia would really not be interested in seeing.”
As fierce urban fighting continued in central Kyiv Thursday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an unusually strong statement that Russia would continue its strategic cooperation with Ukraine so long as the authorities remain “legitimate and effective.”
But he also appeared to warn the Yanukovych administration against being a “doormat” on which people “wipe their feet,” Russian news agencies reported.
That’s likely a reflection of the growing frustration among top Russian officials who’d earlier relied on Yanukovych to rein in the protesters both he and the Kremlin have long cast as “terrorists” and violent “extremists.”
Also undoubtedly troubling for the Kremlin is seeing Yanukovych's authority — both in Kyiv and nationwide — slipping quickly. […]
> See the full article "Russia wants Ukraine for itself. What will it do to keep it?" by Dan Peleschuk © Global Post