Mere money is not the same as the ability to hold a necessary resource hostage, and Moscow knows it.
Every great power in the region is courting the landlocked little crossroads within an inch of its life.
Russia has played for the prize of Ukraine — for its 46 millions, for its industry, for its gas pipelines, for its culture and history, for its geopolitical value and its economic potential — to win. Europe has played, when it has bothered to play, not to lose.
The point of the European Union is not to bring European-style parliamentary democracy and regulation heavy free-trade-zones to the Continent. It is to end grinding, vicious, catastrophic wars that leave the Continent a smoking ruin.
Each day is a new day. If Europe fails to seize its chances at the end of this month, or if the hurdles before the Eastern Partnership nations are too great, Putin may yet have another chance — the only chance he needs.
There is a tragedy here, one that goes even beyond the thousand and one failures of governance that marks this as perhaps the very worst run of the former Soviet Republics.
Brussels and Washington must do what they have been reluctant to do for years and forthrightly assert their interests in the face of opposition.
Although Rogozin may have been wishing warm holiday tidings, he was more likely reminding Moldova that its natural gas supply comes bearing Gazprom’s seal.
A petition is making the rounds in Latvia to dismantle a World War II memorial that commemorates the Soviet “liberators” who brutally pushed out the Nazis after brutally occupying the state years before.
The choice for a change is stark, and has been for some time: A Ukraine that is part of Europe, or a Ukraine that is merely a glorified province for Russia.