What’s next for Ukraine?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. After what we have seen in last 48 hours what worries you most when you look at current situation on Ukraine?

2. What do you now expect from the outside players from the US, the EU and Russia?

Answers:

Stephen Bittner, Professor of History, Sonoma State University

1. I worry that the fundamental question–who rightfully governs Ukraine?–has not not yet been resolved. Does political power reside in the melee of maidan? In the halls of parliament? Or worse, will Ukraine fragment into an east and south that is loyal to the ancien regime, and a center and west that looks to Europe and beyond? The newly empowered opposition needs to make it clear to the Russian-speaking parts of the country that all Ukrainians will benefit by closer ties with the outside world. This should include not only Europe, but Russia as well. There is no reason Ukraine should have to turn its back completely on Russia to pursue European integration.

2. I think that the US has and will continue to play a secondary role in Ukraine, unless the situation takes a sudden turn for the worse. There’s simply not the political stomach here to craft a Marshall Plan for Ukraine. So the US will look to the IMF and the EU to craft a series of financial incentives and loans so Ukraine can avoid its most pressing financial problem: the risk of a national default. US passivity could change if Russia begins to involve itself more forcefully. Yesterday the Moscow Times reported that an official in the Russian Foreign Ministry threatened the use of military force to protect Crimea should Ukraine begin to splinter. The Russians have painted themselves into an uncomfortable corner because they have so aggressively couched the Ukrainian opposition as neo-fascist in orientation. That doesn’t leave much room for compromise. The West and the Ukrainian opposition have to find ways to help Russia tone down its rhetoric and to find compromise, perhaps by promising not the revoke the law guaranteeing linguistic parity between Russian and Ukrainian that the Yanukovich government passed.

Daniel Treisman, Professor, Department of Political Science University of California

1. The greatest danger is that groups loyal to Yanukovych in the eastern Ukraine and maybe Crimea will refuse to recognize whatever regime emerges in Kiev, prolonging the political and economic uncertainty, and perhaps leading to more violence.

2. I think the US and EU understand that there are two key tasks they must now accomplish. First, together with the IMF they need to put together rapidly a sufficiently large economic aid package to stabilize the economy and begin resolving the multiple economic problems the country faces. Second, they need to engage in diplomacy with Russia to persuade Moscow to participate constructively in creating a new, post-Yanukovych order. Both the US and EU failed at these tasks before the latest violence. I am hopeful that now they will be more successful.

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