Will Ukraine snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

By Elizabeth Pond
With the heavy guns suddenly silenced on the Donbass “truce” line for a month, a new era has begun. The reading of many Ukrainians (I agree) is that Sphynx Putin has finally realized that his undeclared war on Ukraine is hurting Russia itself more than Ukraine or the West and is trying to extricate himself from the quagmire unobtrusively.

This is welcome, but it raises serious questions for Kiev. The last time pro-European demonstrators won a democratic victory on the Maidan and got a rerun of the fraudulent 2004 election, they self-destructed. The elected Orange Revolution president and prime minister feuded so bitterly that they paralyzed the government, halted the evolution of robber barons into civic benefactors, reinstated backroom crony capitalism, disgusted the public and handed the presidency back to Putin’s myrmidon Yanukovich, this time in a fair election. That moment of transformation was lost.

With the Russian pressure off, today’s politicians and oligarchs that supported the Euromaidan are no longer compelled to cooperate or else pay existential consequences. The squabbling has begun. Will the new reformers too snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

This article was originally posted on International Institute for Strategic Studies. Read the entire article here.


Elizabeth Pond is a Berlin-based journalist and author. She has contributed several articles to Survival, most recently ‘Serbia Reinvents Itself’, in vol. 55, no. 4, August–September 2013, pp. 7–30.