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.
Brussels and Washington must do what they have been reluctant to do for years and forthrightly assert their interests in the face of opposition.
With so many credible allegations of wrongdoing remaining, baseless demands for Tymoshenko to be pardoned must not stand in the way of a true commitment both to the law and to a serious policy toward Ukraine.
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.
This development is part of a larger series of events that point more and more inexorably toward the signing of the Association Agreement and closer ties at last between Europe and Ukraine.
When the story of Ukraine’s drive for Europe is written, Vladimir Putin will star in an outsized role: one of his rare blunders will be known as perhaps the final push that brought Brussels and Kyiv together at last.
Credit goes to Viktor Yanukovych’s administration, which has been smart enough to see that whatever the short-term gains might be found in an alliance with Moscow, the future can only lie with Europe.
As Brussels and Kyiv rapidly approach the date on which they are to sign the Association Agreement to which they have worked so long, all present noted the remarkable speed with which Ukraine is meeting its target benchmarks.