Getting worried…

This fantastic photo (more here) sums it up pretty well: tensions are growing in Ukraine now part of the country is threatening to split off if Yushchenko becomes President. I am getting a bit worried now.

Many Ukrainians, in blogs or elsewhere, point to the fact that this is not about geopolitics, about East vs. West or Russia vs. America. The conflict is about Ukrainians, they say, fighting for their democratic right for free and honest elections.

Well, yes, I agree with them that this is what it should be about. But I am less convinced that this is what will determine the outcome. When Putin decided to support the Yanukovych election campaign, he, at least, seemed to be well aware of the risk of spill-over to his own sphere of influence would a western-european style government take over from the current autocratic cronies in Ukraine. So the fact that the outcome was almost even for both candidates was largely of his making. As for the EU, it is clear that it feels safer with a solid democratic state at its borders, especially if that state ultimately wants to join the EU. The same goes for the US, which has an interest in both strong democracy in an EU-aspiring Ukraine, and the weakening of Russian as well as EU foreign power following Ukraine accession to the EU. Therefore both the US and the EU are encouraging Yushchenko to stand firm.

Other worrying factors: the fact that state security personnel in the Ukraine comes mainly from the Yanukovich east whereas demonstrators are from the Yushchenko west, and the fact that Putin may not accept a solution involving a split-up of Ukraine. On the other hand: the EU is unlikely to impose strong sanctions on a country through which much-needed energy supplies are transported, and Ukrainian demonstrators from both camps are still treating each other with admirable respect and cheerfulness.

So let us just say the situation is hard to predict and very interesting.

2 Responses to “Getting worried…”

  1. Tipping point Says:

    I think tonight’s Kuchma declaration (that a new election should solve the crisis) shows the opposition has pushed the current government past the tipping point…
    It appears they feel their authority is crumbling, and apparently they do prefer an elegant withdrawal (new elections) above the political (secession) or economical ( ) collapse of the country…

  2. eulogist Says:

    [updated] Actually, I think new elections, and a subsequent Yushchenko win, could make secession of the eastern part more likely. Secession is not the prefered choice for either government, as the east with its mines and heavy industry is (still) the economic engine of the country. But whereas any government would resist secession, it is only likely to occur in case of a Yushchenko win. So especially now local authorities have said they might secede, the Yanukovichites can use it as a credible threat to bully voters into a Yanukovich vote. Remember the difference between the candidates was not that big, even if you account for the fraud… However, I do think new elections is the best way out of the current deadlock. Any other solution (keeping Yanukovich in power, appointing Yushchenko president, even recounting the votes) seems riskier to me.

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