Ukraine’s Interior Minister said Thursday that three pro-Russian protesters were killed, 13 more were wounded, and 63 were arrested in a confrontation at a military base in the east of the country.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the remarks by Arsen Avakov. The incident occurred at a base in the southeastern city of Mariupol, in the Donbass region of the country, approximately 70 miles south of Donetsk.
Earlier, the Journal reported that a group of insurgents had stormed the base late Wednesday as Ukraine’s military drive to regain control of the country’s east from separatists was stymied by civilians who halted army columns in their tracks and militants who hijacked Ukrainian military vehicles and drove them around with Russian flags.
Kyiv needs to crack down enough to keep its pro-Russian regions from effectively ceding themselves to Moscow, without cracking down so hard that they give Putin justification to be more aggressive. That might well prove to be an impossible tightrope to cross.
The historical analogy I’m thinking of here is what happened after Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. This isn’t a perfect analogy, as people tend to forget there were other countries feasting at Munich; Hungary got a tasty strip of Slovakia and Poland annexed the small Zaolzie region. But there are more parallels between Ukraine and post-Munich Czechoslovakia.
Hitler succeeded in disrupting the rump state in the months after Munich thoroughly enough to take over the rest of the country. Slovakia was granted very nominal independence (except for another chunk awarded to Hungary), and the Czech regions were demoted to the “Bohemia-Moravia Protectorate” fully under Berlin’s boot.
Watching events in Ukraine, you can’t help but wonder if this isn’t March of 1939 all over again.