On Carnage in Ukraine

Bottom-line:The protesters can eventually succeed in ousting the popularly elected president of Ukraine, but this won't bridge the widening gap between parts of the country, which seems unable to stop sliding down slope toward implosion.

Detailed analysis:

Ukrainian Health Ministry's latest update shows 11 people killed and 221 injured in violence, which erupted on February 18 in Kiev.

Video and photo footage of the Ukrainian capital shows parts of downtown engulfed in flames and protesters aiming rifles.

The violence is likely to continue as the implacable core of the protest movement calculates that it could eventually oust the president, who, by the way, was popularly elected in a 2010 poll – that both West and East deemed fair.

While I condemn deadly use of force by both sides and urge an end to it, I should also note that it was quite predictable that Yanukovych would eventually lose patience, given that his overtures, which included offer of the premier's post to the opposition, have been spurned.  I actually doubt there are many leaders in either West or East who would have tolerated such protests, which featured seizures of government buildings and police officers set on fire with Molotov cocktails and killed.
Even if the protesters manage to oust the weakened president, this will not neither lead to stabilization in the country, which will remain between eastern Ukraine and Crimea, on one side, and central and western parts of Ukraine, on the other. Moreover, each new revolution (and this is the third attempt to stage a revolution in Ukraine – one before has failed and one has succeeded) would further lessen chances that the current generations of Ukrainians will get to live in a normal country, in which governments change after elections rather than riots.

As for external stakeholders, they should realize that instead of getting a pro-Western Ukraine or pro-Russian Ukraine, they could end up with a failed Ukraine, which has a population of 45 million that someone would have to feed if their state implodes. Only Ukrainian themselves could decide their future. Any government installed with external 'help' could meet the same fate as the Shah of Iran did in 1979.
And we should also bear in mind that the current violence in Ukraine is fraught with spatial contagion regardless of whether 'revolution' or 'counter-revolution' prevails: both governments and opposition forces in neighboring ex-Soviet republics will infer lessons from whatever side prevails in Kiev to decide for themselves whether they can use violence to achieve their goals (or deny others) and get away with that.


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