Knight of Malta said:Beyond that, there is a complete failure to understand how Russian propaganda is executed and how their special forces operate on the ground in places like Ukraine, Georgia etc. The Russian propaganda efforts in Crimea and the Donbass began, if they ever really ceased, almost as soon as communism collapsed. They intensified after Yeltsin was deposed as Putin came to power. Putin was obviously a KGB guy, and during the Glasnost and Perestroika times Gorbachev was essentially operating in the face of extreme resistance from the KGB, who wanted to take a much tougher line on the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which they wanted to retain in tact by force.
There was, once Maidan began, a concerted campaign by Russian special forces and intelligence services across large swathes of the Ukrainian East. In Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Odessa, Russian special forces were actively engaged in causing widespread disruption and civil unrest. The 'little green men' were out on the streets beating people up, raping, and killing to create fear and distrust amongst the general populace. This was a deliberate psychological operation designed to create a sense of lawlessness. When this sense of lawlessness pervades, the population is ready to turn to any authority that can return order. The clear end goal of this operation was to ensure a grateful populace when Russian troops (or rebel troops, with a Russian command structure, as currently exists in the Donbass) moved in and took those cities.
Some of your post was reasonable, but this part is a bunch of nonsense that sounds like something straight out of Euromaidan Press. If Russia intended to annex eastern Ukraine, it would have been in a few days and there is literally no reason to go about it in a such a covert roundabout way. It would have been much better to move in the military openly and take over. Putin did not intend to annex Donetsk, Lugansk, etc. and that is a big strategic blunder on his part.
I think the "separatists" are not necessarily as pro-Russian as we believe. They are mostly anti-Ukrainians who hate Russians. I was always surprised to see that many people from Lugansk and Donetsk region I could meet in Kiev , back at the time i was living there , were speaking quite good ukrainian in comparison to many "Ukrainians from Ukraine"