Serhiy Zdrylyuk, deputising for his boss, leader of the 'Donbas Self-Defence Force, Ihor Strelkov, staged a bizarre, rather shambolic press conference today, presenting an ultimatum to Ukrainian military forces - unless they withdraw their heavy equipment from the area 'everything will be destroyed and burned'.
Zdrylyuk continually fidgeted nervously with a pen in one hand, and held a lighted cigarette in the other, flicking the ash onto the floor under the table. He looked stressed out, rather frightened and unconvincing, as if he knew, deep inside, his 'self defence force' will not be capable of delivering on his threats. Furthermore, he would have been well aware that by making such threats, so publicly, he would be be a marked man forever.
The gravity of his statement seemed to hit him as he spoke.
Residents in Donbas and elsewhere crave peace and stability above all else. For many months mass media in the east of the country have frightened the wits out of these people with tales of fascist banderites coming to cut their hearts out. Many would have welcomed Russian forces to provide some stability. but now it seems, the chances of this happening are receding.
Gradually it will dawn on many of these same residents that the main threat to stability in their region comes from these undisciplined anarchistic separatists as the disruption to their lives caused by their activities increases..[E.g. a high security vehicle delivering wages and pensions to a bank was hijacked by armed thugs today.]
Mass protests in support of separatists and against Kyiv have just not materialised. Local workers are beginning to patrol streets to calm the situation.
It will be a tough job to contain and neutralise the separatist forces, but maybe..maybe, the tide has just started to turn a little now.