Click to enalrge the image. Drawing by Konstantin Maler
Debates about Ukraine’s European choice ended with riots and a sharp aggravation of confrontation. It is unclear why it was necessary to disperse supporters of the association with the EU on the Maidan. It seems like a positional game has begun with an eye on the 2015 presidential elections.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych prevented a socioeconomic collapse, which inevitably would have happened if he went on with the conditions of the European Union. Further viscous negotiations with Russia did not promise manna from heaven, but might have allowed them to stay afloat, and then later start again playing with the united Europe.
The opposition got a wonderful slogan for the whole campaign, "They stole our European future." Meanwhile, Yulia Timoshenko remains behind bars, which actually suits the current front men’s protest.
Now moderate scenarios escape. The regime will not back down, because by doing so it will show weakness. In the ranks of the protesters radical forces are prevailing and compromise with them is impossible. The compromise is unclear because we are talking not about the association with the EU, but the power.
Infighting finds geopolitical components. The European Union is annoyed and offended by Yanukovich for the failure of the Vilnius summit, so that it is likely to hold politically and morally any force that opposes him. Even if the European choice means association with the nationalist Freedom party and its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok.
Violent suppression of protests can lead not to stabilization but just the opposite. It forces Yanukovych to seek solidarity only in Moscow. It puts Russia in a position where it will again be involved in Ukrainian politics. And in this murky swamp, we have repeatedly gotten bogged down.
One gets the sad feeling that in Ukraine there are no good scenarios. The attempt to force a country, still not aware of its national interests, to finally decide, repeatedly turns into a test of strength with increasing risk and less guarantee.
Fyodor Lukyanov is the chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
First published in Russian in Kommersant.
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