Ukraine’s government may have survived a no-confidence vote in parliament but thousands of protestors are continuing to demonstrate for closer ties to Western Europe. Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich decided to give into pressure from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and not sign a partnership agreement with the EU. Is Brussels doing enough to present a credible alternative to Moscow?
It looks like Ukraine is experiencing a re-run of the 2004 Orange Revolution when the country’s oligarchy was temporarily forced out of power and Ukraine experienced what a democratic awakening. The hundreds of thousands of protestors on Kiev’s Independence Square are calling for President Yanukovich to step down. They are demanding more democracy and feel they need to strengthen bonds to the EU rather than with Russia.
Yanukovich says he gave in to pressure from the Kremlin when he decided not to sign the partnership agreement with Brussels. For the moment it appears he is following a strategy of wait and see with the demonstrators.
Ukraine’s disparate collection of opposition parties ranges from boxing champion Vitali Klitschko’s Udar party, to Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party to the rightwing Swoboda party. What unites them is that they all have a common opponent in the form of Yanukovich.
The EU says the door is still open to Kiev but can Ukraine loosen its ties with Moscow? Perhaps the EU is offering too little to encourage the Ukrainians to take what would be major step to the West.
Tell us what you think: Ukraine: East-West Tug of War
Sergej Sumlenny – After studying journalism at Moscow University Sumlenny first worked as producer in the ARD Moscow bureau, then for business TV network RBC TV, becoming chief editor of the “World Business” newscast. In 2005 he came to Germany as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, taking a doctorate in political science. Today he is the Germany correspondent of the business journal “Expert.” His book “Nemetskaya System” (The German System), which probes the social and economic mechanisms in German society, was published in 2010.
Moritz Gathmann has been reporting on the former Soviet Union for over ten years. Between 2008 and 2013 he lived in Moscow and Kaluga, working a number of major German publications. He has a special interest in Russia's relationships with former Soviet republics like Belarus, Armenia and Ukraine. He traveled with presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych during the 2009 Ukranian elections.
Lucian Kim – The US-american journalist and blogger has been covering Eastern Europe since the early 1990s. He was the Berlin correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor from 1996 to 2002, before he moved to Russia in 2003. There he worked as an editor for The Moscow Times and a correspondent for Bloomberg News, covering energy giant Gazprom and the Putin government. In 2011, he started a blog chronicling the Moscow protest movement on his website, luciankim.com.