Is Ukraine on the verge of civil war? Or is the Putin-backed Yanukovych government’s attempted crackdown on a strong and resilient opposition of many thousands of protesters and countless other sympathizers more like the Jaruzelski communist government’s imposition of martial law against Solidarity in 1981 or the Soviets’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 or the Red Army’s massacre of Hungarians in 1956? History moved slowly, but by 1989-1991 it was clear which side in the end had prevailed, and it wasn’t the Soviets.
History now is moving faster. Emboldened by Putin’s instructions, Yanukovych on Tuesday attempted to rid central Kiev of its opposition encampments. The brutality backfired, literally as they say, as the determined and resourceful opposition reverted to an uncanny scorched earth policy to stay put. Had it been just these “terrorists” he was up against, Yanukovych might have continued his assault through Wednesday. Instead, late in the days he announced he’d reached a truce of sorts with the opposition. The standoff in central Kiev continues.