Members of Parliament of the Svoboda party fight with pro-Kremlin lawmakers in the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday, during the debates focused on a law toughening responsibility for separatism. Photo: AFP Ukraine
's eastern region is posing more grim challenges than Crimea. Moscow's maneuver in Crimea and the responses of Washington and Brussels have been within people's expectation. However, the eastern uprisings, in which pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings of three cities, are likely to start real chaos. They undoubtedly are driven by Crimea's joining to Russia, but are not necessarily in line with the hopes of Russia President Vladimir Putin.
The eastern region of Ukraine has a different significance to Kiev from Crimea. Secession of the region from Ukraine means disintegration of the country. It will be a much more adventurous decision for Moscow to take over Ukraine's eastern region, attended by great geopolitical risks.
Boasting a sound industrial foundation, the populous eastern region is the economic center of Ukraine. Kiev on late Monday regained control of the headquarters of Ukrainian security services in Donetsk, claiming they would not compromise with the armed occupants.
Moscow is not preparing itself for solving the Ukraine crisis at any cost. If the Russians in Ukraine's eastern region become uncontrollable in disintegrating Ukraine, they will not only trouble Kiev but also may kidnap Moscow.
A similar scenario happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s when the Serbs established their own country, which had thrown off the control of Belgrade to a large extent and led to continuous escalations of the situation.
The Russians in Ukraine's eastern region in actuality have a phobia toward the new regime in Kiev. It's politically right for Moscow to give them moral support.
Expecting the new Kiev regime to halt its endeavor in joining the EU and focus on national reconciliation is unrealistic.
Various forces within Ukraine are still colliding in a disorderly fashion. The rationality that transcends sectional interests hasn't been formed yet.
Given the easy access to weapons by local Russians in Ukraine's eastern region, the worst scenario for Ukraine is a civil war. This is not just alarmist talk. If the Russians seek an independent regime in the Transnistria region, not only Kiev but also the whole Europe and US-Russia relationship will face rigorous tests.
The Kremlin wants to see Ukraine avoid disintegration while at the same time not joining the EU and NATO. Such a result would also be acceptable to the EU and NATO.
Beijing should be more cautious about the issue of Ukraine's eastern region, observing strict neutrality.
No single force has been able to dictate the Ukraine situation up till now. Moscow has displayed its strong stance despite being weaker than the West. This is not an indication of a powerful Russia but a West of limited strength.
If the US fails to recognize its own limits of both soft and hard power, it will make more strategic blunders in future.Read more in Special Coverage: