Ukraine's Deadline For Protesters Passes; What Now?

The deadline requiring pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine to vacate government buildings has passed.

Ukraine's Deadline For Protesters Passes; What Now?
Kyiv Post / Kostyantyn Chernichkin

The armed protesters in eastern Ukraine have a message for the new government in Kiev: We're not going anywhere.

‚ÄčThis past week Ukraine saw protests, calls for independence and fresh unrest across several cities in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east. At least one security officer died in the violence. (Via Euronews, YouTube / ptixer / ffjjoder / Victor Vaschuk)

Sunday, Ukraine's interim president issued an ultimatum — lay down your arms by 9 a.m. Monday or face what he described as an "anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's armed forces. (Via YouTube / turchynov

The deadline came and went — and for the most part, the pro-Russian protesters ignored it. Armed men were still occupying government buildings in Horlivka, Donetsk and Slaviansk. (Via YouTube / 8plus0)

Kiev, backed by its Western allies, has accused Moscow of orchestrating the unrest to stage another Crimea-like intervention — a charge Moscow, of course, denies. Here's how U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power put it on ABC's "This Week."

"It has all the tell-tale signs of what we saw in Crimea. It's professional; it's coordinated. There's nothing grassroots-seeming about it."  

Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said before while he has no plans to invade, he also reserves the right to protect Ukraine's ethnic Russians. Western analysts have interpreted that to mean different things. (Via RT)

The fear among some is, Russia could use the violence seen over the weekend as a pretext for invasion. (Via Sky News)

And it would have the military might to do so. Based on satellite images, NATO estimates some 40,000 Russian troops are amassed along Ukraine's eastern border. (Via BBC

The U.S. and its allies have threatened more sanctions in response to the unrest, including measures targeting Russia's energy and oil sectors, but that's done little to slow the clashes. 

One analyst called it crunch time for the West, telling Bloomberg"This is supposed to be the trigger for more meaningful economic and trade sanctions against Russia. We're now going to see the extent to which the West is unified in its willingness to face down Russia."

Putin's spokesperson told reporters the president is getting a lot of requests to intervene in eastern Ukraine and is watching the situation very closely.