Ukraine, who offers more?

Kiev, disputed by Europe and Russia, turned a new page. Unforeseeable future

After approximately three months of riots and over 100 deaths, Ukraine has reached an historical turning point. Precisely because of the death of one hundred people, an event that seriously delegitimized his role, President Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev to seek refuge in the Eastern part of the Country, the homeland of his constituency and of the country’s large Russian minority group. After last week’s clashes Yanukovich could have remained in power only if he had managed to pilot the crisis in the same direction followed by Assad’s Syria, but the chances of success were too low, and he would have needed the full support of security forces, which probably was lacking, or was insufficient. Facing this situation, the president decided to sign a truce with the opposition stipulating early elections, while in the midst of widespread euphoria he organized his rapid, silent flight, far away from the capital. Over the past hours the Ukrainian parliament has sought to provide political cover for mass mobilization that resulted in the expulsion of Yanukovych, thus limiting the chances for the latter to present the situation as a coup d’état. Thus the president of the chamber has been appointed interim president of the Republic and a parliamentary vote decided the removal of Yanukovych with return to the Constitution of 2004. National elections have been tabled for the end of May, but the future of Ukraine is a hanging issue that involves both internal political actors and external powers. First of all, the risk of civil war can’t be ruled out. Ukraine remains a State whose ethno-national borders are historically difficult to trace, and it will be necessary to see how Russian language-regions will react to this political change, that began with a pro-Western, nationalistic thrust, hostile to Russian influence. It is to be hoped that the President removed from his post won’t try to mobilize eastern populations – perhaps managing to obtain external support – nor cause a rift in the armed forces, because at that point it would be very hard to prevent the outbreak of war. A positive signal comes from Yanukovych’s party that reportedly blamed him for the violence that shattered Kiev during the last days, and ousted him. As relates to the role of external players, despite the large interests at stake, Russia could not have openly imposed Yanukovich, although support to the ex president and to the Russian minority cannot be excluded if the latter were to follow him motivated by secessionist drives. It is to be expected that Russia will use all of its economic power to influence the future of Ukraine and ensure that it won’t budge from its geopolitical orbit. On the other hand, the EU was again noticed for its absence. Before a mass mobilization that began precisely because of the failure to sign an association agreement between Kiev and Brussels, the Union did not have the determination to ensure funding to Ukraine that would have released it from the grip of Moscow. And when the crisis became violent, the EU vanished into thin air, failing to fulfil its peacemaking mission. The sanctions were late and mediation between the government and the opposition was carried out by Germany and Poland. However, the economic situation in Ukraine remains serious. The new president will probably have to resort to aids from Brussels and loans from the IMF. The conditions under which funding will be granted will show to what extent the West truly intends to invest on Ukraine.

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