It just doesn’t add up.
On the one hand, we see regular articles on how the EU is falling apart; on the other we see Ukrainians willing to die to join the organization.
The battle between the Ukrainian protestors and the pro-Russian government in Kiev gets worse by the day.
What will be the end result?
If the opposition succeeds and Ukraine joins the European Union, the country, at 233,062 square miles, will be its biggest member. (If Turkey eventually joins, it will slide to second place.) It would also change the center of gravity, moving the parameters of the EU further east.
The EU is protesting the treatment of the demonstrators, as is the US. The EU does not have the military power to take on Ukraine, which is backed by a seemingly resurgent Russia. But it does have economic power – and more of it than Moscow. Sanctions imposed by the EU could have a profound effect on the Ukraine.
Russia is buying Ukrainian support with aid paid for from its oil revenues. But the EU is the world’s biggest trading bloc and carries a lot of economic clout.
It’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top.
The Ukraine itself is divided. The western half of the country was a part of the Austrian Empire until World War I, so naturally leans toward the West. The eastern part was ruled by Czarist Russia and leans east. Russia has strong emotional and historical ties with the country going back to 988 AD when Kiev’s leader converted to Christianity and chose the Byzantine Eastern Christian rite over Roman Catholicism. Russia continues to follow this religious system, still seeing itself as the Third Rome.
Germany and Russia fought over Ukraine in both world wars. This time, there is no physical fighting except for the violent demonstrations in Kiev. But the country could be headed for civil war, which won’t benefit anybody. It is also possible that Russia will intervene militarily if President Putin fears losing Ukraine to the West. An invasion from Russia, however, could backfire.
The reality of massive pro-EU demonstrations contrasts sharply with disillusionment directed toward the EU in western Europe. Ukraine successfully joining the organization will give the others a boost – showing that the ideal of European unity is far from dead.