The situation in Ukraine appears to accurately described as a state of limbo. The most positive thing that can be said at the moment is that the serious violence that was occurring last week is for the moment in abeyance. One of several serious problems on the table is what looks like a significant separatist movement in the Crimea centered in the city of Sevastopol.
Authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Sevastopol have installed a pro-Russian mayor as fears grow that the Kremlin may be stoking separatist sentiment in the region.
Sevastopol's city council handed power to Aleksei Chaliy, a Russian citizen, during an extraordinary session on Monday evening while more than a thousand protesters gathered around city hall chanting "Russia, Russia, Russia," and "A Russian mayor for a Russian city."
Fears are spreading that separatists in Sevastopol, and the Crimean region of which it is a part, could use the power vacuum in Ukraine to seize greater autonomy and deepen ties with Russia.
Ukraine's interim president, Olexander Turchynov, warned on Tuesday that the country faced a "serious threat" from separatism.The Crimea is the only region in Ukraine with a majority of ethnic Russians. Sevastopol is the home port of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Russia has a lease on the port which is set to run until 2042. It is a situation somewhat reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. There had already been concerns that Russia was distributing Russian passports in the region and taking other steps to strengthen its influence. The situation provides a basis for Russian efforts to exert influence on the unstable situation in Ukraine.
Meanwhile the political situation in Kiev remains chaotic. On Saturday the plan had been to select an interim government by tomorrow. Now the plan has been pushed back until Thursday. The three formerly opposition parties have little in the way of common ground now that their common enemy Yanukovych is out of the picture. They are jockeying for power with an eye to the permanent elections scheduled for May.
The threat of imminent bankruptcy looms large. Russia has cancelled its financial assistance. The IMF will not open negotiations until an interim government has been established. The EU and the US are making general promises of some form of financial assistance to supplement IMF funding but haven't come up with any concrete plans or offers. The Ukrainian currency is in free fall and any ability to borrow on the international market has become non-existent as they more closer to the possibility of default.