Is Ukraine on the verge of civil war?

An armed man, representing Ukrainian special forces, stands guard outside the regional administration building in Kharkiv. Ukraine has launched an "anti-terrorist" operation in the eastern city of Kharkiv and about 70 "separatists" have been arrested for seizing the regional administration building. (Reuters/Olga Ivashchenko)

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The situation in eastern Ukraine is indeed chaotic. Who is responsible and to what end - is all up for dispute. Pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine want Russia to Annex Donetsk the way it did Crimea. We hear from a Ukrainian activist who fears her country is now headed for civil war.

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Pro-Russia protesters in Donetsk stormed the regional government building on Sunday and hung a Russian flag. (Reuters)

Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine seized government buildings on Sunday. They declared the region to be a "people's republic" and called for a referendum on whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

Similar scenes unfolded in two other eastern cities. The Ukrainian government in Kyiv -- along with Canada and the United States -- accuses Russia of instigating the protests and trying to create a pretext for annexing more Ukrainian territory.

Russia denies the accusation and says the use of force to dislodge the protesters could plunge the country into civil war. That potential is something Diana Berg takes seriously. She was born and raised in Donetsk. A couple of months ago she became a political activist when she helped establish the "Donetsk is Ukraine" rallies to show support for a united Ukraine. We reached Diana Berg at her home in Donetsk.

 


"Everything that we've seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they've been sent there determined to create chaos. And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly. And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

In his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid the blame for the unrest in eastern Ukraine squarely and solely on Russia.

But according to Irvin Studin, it's not quite that simple. Irvin Studin is the Editor in Chief of Global Brief magazine. He's also a professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto and the co-founder of Ukraine's Higher School of Public Administration. Irvin Studin was in Toronto.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath, Sujata Berry and Pacinthe Mattar.

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