The Ukrainian revolution has redrawn the geopolitical map of Eurasia. In the process it has set back two key objectives of the "Putin doctrine" that shapes Russia’s foreign policy: Russia as a great power defined in opposition to the West and Russia as an unchallengeable hegemon in the post-Soviet space. Putin will do whatever it takes to prevent the spread of the "Ukrainian contagion" inside Russia. This is the imperative that will dominate the Kremlin’s foreign and domestic policy for weeks, perhaps months to come. Will Vladimir Putin escalate his aggressive stance toward Ukraine beyond the point where violence and even armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russia become inevitable? What will the US and Europe do to deter the bear as Ukraine seeks to move to the West?
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Last week masked men, in camouflage garb with no insignia, dressed and equipped like Russian special forces, started taking over police stations and other government buildings in the Donets basin in eastern Ukraine. They appeared to be working in tandem with local militias in defying the Ukrainian government.
If you've been following events in Ukraine closely, you may have seen maps, available at electoralgeography.com, showing how the ethnic Russian areas voted heavily for one candidate and the ethnic Ukrainian areas for another.