In my previous blog I noted that by early February 2014 a decision had been made in the Kremlin to dismember parts of Ukraine, even if Yanukovych had put down the Euromaidan and remained in power.
This was revealed in a recently leaked policy note or document which caused a stir in many newspapers and elsewhere several days ago.
Some independent Russian commentators have suggested such a document could have been produced by any one of several important Russian think tanks who were all gradually coming to the same conclusion - make a grab for Ukrainian sovereign territory.
Other commentators e.g from Cargegie.ru have their own opinions too:
I think this suggestion is the most likely:
"[Yanukovych]..might have decided to flee right at that time because the Russian representative [at a last minute meeting of western and Russian intermediaries] failed to put his signature next to the European ones. He may have interpreted Russia’s failure to sign the agreement as a signal that Russia didn’t believe the agreement would work out (which is exactly how Lukin and other Russian diplomats later explained their failure to sign the agreement). He thought that Russia no longer supported him in the Kyiv standoff, that Moscow had sold him out and now had its own plans unrelated to extending his presidential powers.
Having lost his only external ally, Yanukovych caved in and fled."
According to a "Guardian" piece from September 2013 "The Kremlin...warned Ukraine that if the country goes ahead with a planned [Association] agreement on free trade with the EU, it faces inevitable financial catastrophe and possibly the collapse of the state."
One of Putin's closest aides, Sergey Glazyev, said at the time, "Ukrainian authorities make a huge mistake if they think that the Russian reaction will become neutral in a few years from now. This will not happen."
"...if Ukraine signed the agreement, Russia would consider the bilateral treaty that delineates the countries' borders to be void."
Yanukovych was under constant, massive pressure at that time from the Russian authorities not to sign the Association Agreement deal with the EU, and declined to do so late November 2013.
During the Euromaidan which followed he must have felt he was doing all he possibly could to appease Putin. ..
But when he heard in early February that Putin was planning to ditch him and move into Ukraine, this was the last straw...He decided his time was up; he had to flee.
Update - Just read about the terrible assassination of Boris Nemtsov...a most charismatic man and true friend of Ukraine. What dreadful news.
Say a prayer for him.
We should never forget there are many fine Russians too....
Now maybe even more people across the globe will come to their senses and realise the direction in which Putin is leading his country.