You couldn't make this up! First a recap. There used to be an elected although corrupt government in the Ukraine which was beholden to Russia. The president was a guy called Yanukovych. The Russians sent the Ukraine cheap oil and gas and in return they got use of the deep-water port at Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula.
Then in February the Americans sponsored a coup-d'etat and a pro-Western government under a guy called Yatsenyuk took over. The Russians took this badly and helped themselves to the Crimean peninsula (which really is the only bit of the Ukraine they actually want.)
The Russian-speakers in other cities in the east of the Ukraine took at look at this and decided they also wanted to be absorbed by Russia or if not that then independent. Cue many roadblocks and the occupation of government buildings. For a few weeks little actual violence though.
Faced with the prospect of the Ukraine disintegrating into a collection of state-lets, Yatsenyuk in Kiev (having his arm twisted by the American spooks actually running the show) ordered the national guard, still loyal to Kiev, to attack the "separatists", so we have now seen the army setting fire to buildings and shooting separatists when they tried to get out.
Meanwhile the Russians, who really do not want the rest of the Ukraine, Crimea was the bit they wanted, have been biding their time. They have built up their forces near the border but not technically invaded.
So the Kiev government, faced with either A) letting go of a large portion of the country, or B) civil war to keep the country together, has come up with a plan C which involves provoking the Russians into invading in the hope that Western forces will come in to help them. Hence the brutal atrocities we have seen on our TV screens in the last couple of days. It's a policy of complete desperation.
Perhaps the new new thing is that Odessa is now in play. The Russians wanted Crimea for its deep, warm-water port, but Odessa also has significant port facilities and was also a major base for the Soviet Black sea fleet back in the day. The Russians wouldn't mind having Odessa.
However the Kremlin is stuffed with grandmaster strategists and they won't easily be wrong-footed or provoked into action before they are ready. So the violence is going to have to build and build and a full on civil war is in the offing.
It is not given to us to know how the next few weeks and months will pan out, but the end result is predictable - Russia will be bigger and stronger and the West will be wishing they had never started anything.