Germany has declared that war is imminent in Ukraine, and advised its nationals to leave eastern and southern parts of the country. The Telegraph:
[German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter] Steinmeier told four European newspapers that the bloodshed in the port city of Odessa, which claimed at least 40 lives on Friday, had been a turning point. “The bloody pictures from Odessa have shown us that we are just a few steps away from a military confrontation,” he said.
Things have quieted down in Odessa since Friday, when at least 45 people were killed, but the situation remains explosive. The Telegraph, describing the funeral of a politician killed in last week’s violence, reported ominous shouts among his supporters: “never forget, never forgive.” The next trigger to violence could come in a few days, on May 9, the day when many people in former Soviet republics celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.In any case, the rapid spread of violence to Odessa over the weekend strongly suggests that Russia is focused on adding the southwest to the southeast in whatever puppet regimes it hopes to set up, or to whatever territorial annexations it hopes to make. This is bad news for Moldova and the Balkans: full control of Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline and ports puts Putin’s reviving Russian empire back to the old borders in the south. It will also will lead to heightened Russian influence in neighboring Romania and Bulgaria, and, given the Kremlin’s love for radical right-wing movements in Europe, will likely strengthen ties with Budapest.Odessa and the region around it is critical to Russia’s hopes to build a bloc of sympathetic states inside the EU and NATO; if this weekend’s news is any guide, Russia is still a couple of moves ahead of its slow-moving, uncoordinated rivals in Washington and Berlin.