Much American analysis of the past week’s events in Ukraine has tended to focus on the advisability of removing President Viktor Yanukovych and getting Ukraine to sign an Association Agreement, including a free trade pact, with the European Union. But little attention has been paid to what might happen the day after. This thinking echoes the prevailing line a decade ago during the Orange Revolution, which assumed that everything would be fine once the protesters’ demands were met. Instead, the absence of a coherent, sustained Western approach in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution led to its unraveling.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov acknowledged this week that the government is prepared to consider the possibility of early presidential and parliamentary elections, one of the demands put forward by the coalition of opposition forces that have generated the largest protests seen in Ukraine since the 2004 Orange Revolution. The massive outpouring of discontent was triggered by Yanukovych’s last-minute decision not to sign an EU Association Agreement, in part because of concerns that Ukraine would face intense economic retaliation from Russia if Kiev were to proceed.
But let’s assume for the sake of argument that all the demands of the so-called Euromaidan protesters are met: The decision on the EU agreement is reversed; the Rada (parliament) dissolves itself; and Yanukovych tenders his resignation. Would the crisis automatically be over?