The battles going on in Kyiv and elsewhere drive a wedge deeper into regional divisions in Ukraine – divisions which see people in western parts of the country preferring to associate with the European Union and people in mostly eastern parts preferring traditionally-established ties with Russia.
In Kracovets, near Ukraine’s western border with Poland, several hundred people have been blocking crossing points, in an expression of solidarity with the protesters in Kyiv. They look westward for their future.
One of them said: “Ukrainians would like to go to Europe. They see how much people earn there, and the poverty in Ukraine.”
Ukraine declared its independence from the defunct Soviet Union in 1991, bloodlessly.
Now, with the killing in the streets, people in strategic places in Moscow are warning of civil war.
Dmitri Trenin, Director at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said: “I think people already talk about that, a civil war and the division of the country. That’s terrible to contemplate – simply terrible to contemplate – and yet we need to keep that at the back of our minds, hopefully so that it does not materialise, but the weight of responsibility on the Ukrainian political elite has never been higher than now.”
In Luhansk, for example, there is enthusiasm for Ukraine becoming a federation, giving more power to its regions – a move that a Kremlin aide said might enable mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine to join a Moscow-led customs union.
Valeriy Holenko, Head of Luhansk Regional Council, said: “We believe that Ukraine becoming a federation will ensure the security of the people. No one’s going to teach us how to live, how to love our motherland or what political interests we defend.”
There have also been calls in Crimea – Ukraine’s only autonomous region – to revert to being Russian territory. Russia rents its Black Sea naval base from Crimea.
Refuting Western accusations it is meddling, Moscow has reiterated it will not intervene in Ukraine.
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