...what a world, what a world...
The Wicked Witch of the West--from the movie "The Wizard of Oz."
Those words are probably playing on an maddening loop in the brain of former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych right about now. On Wednesday he was running the country. On Thursday he had enough juice his security forces went so far as to kill at least 77 people who were violently opposed to his presence, not only in the presidential palace, but on the planet itself. On Friday he was cajoled into signing a peace deal with the opposition which was stubbornly holding their lines in the center of Kiev. Finally, on Saturday he was on the lam and his fortunes had slipped to the point the people still stupid enough to be sticking with him couldn't even bribe some outback border officials to let him flee the suddenly shrinking coop. Yes, as Jerry Reed once sang, "When you're hot, you're hot and when you're not, you're not."
Now unsubstantiated claims have him hunkered down in a heavily armed bunker located at a monastery in Donestk in the south eastern corner of Ukraine. Supposedly it is a part of the nation which remains pro Russian, although it is the same place where Yanukovych couldn't buy his way to safety.
Of course pro Russian doesn't necessarily mean pro Yanukovych at the moment. In fact NBC is reporting the new Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov said a warrant has been issued, charging the former president with "mass murder." No wonder he wanted the illicit flight out of the country. The man is caught in a rip tide so vicious the odds are he'll never see the surface of the water again.
NBC also reports wild rumors of Russian troops and armor moving closer to the border, although it notes there is absolutely no evidence of such dangerous activity and Ukrainian officials--the new ones--deny it.
Actually the Russians seem not just angry, but a bit befuddled at the entire series of events. Prime Minister, Dmitri Medvedev was quoted as saying, "We do not understand what is going on there." Indeed, one minute their man seemed firmly in charge and the next he is hiding in some concrete hole in the ground. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov accused the opposition of failing to follow the accord it signed with the former government and seizing power. Medvedev added, darkly, "There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens." He also used the term, armed mutiny, which is never good. In addition the Russian government has already recalled its ambassador--another ominous sign.
Let's face it, any time one of the big boys start to use words like, "threats to our interests and to the lives of our citizens," you need to tread carefully. Just ask the ghost of Saddam Hussein--that foul twit was half a globe away from the people who took him out. In comparison, the Ukrainians are permanently parked in the Russian backyard.
Recognizing the potential of the situation, the Obama people have issued a statement saying any sort of Russian military action would be, "a grave mistake." The problem is, everyone in the world, with the possible exception of John McCain, knows the U.S. won't commit troops to save Ukraine. However, Russian intervention would precipitate what amounts to a new cold war. If such a scenario were to take place the impact on the global economy could be extreme.
Interim Ukrainian president, Oleksander Turchinov has promised a new presidential election campaign will start this week. While that might be a wonderful idea, the hard truth is the Ukrainian economy is down the drain. NBC is saying the nation is $73 billion in debt and needs to pay a minimum of $12 billion this year to keep from going bad on it. One Ukrainian official claims his country will need at least $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years alone.
That money is going to have to come from the west now, because there is no way Vlad Putin will bankroll a new government which not only ran his pal out on a rail, but appears ready to play kissy face with the European Union.
The situation is, as they say, fluid. All we know for sure is in moments such as these, subtlety has never been a Russian strong suit. And--now that the Winter Olympics are over--Putin is once again free to be Putin.