2014 promises to be a very exciting year for Ukraine, for the Eastern Partnership and for Europe.
The EuroMaidan demonstrations (considered to be "the biggest pro-European demonstrations ever") continue in a number of forms:
-> Street protests;
-> Occupation of a number of buildings and the central square in Kiev;
-> Auto-rallies, with thousands of cars joining in;
-> Pickets of institutions and private mansions of Human Rights abusers (the Transport Police in Kiev, the Interior Ministry, even the London home and office of Ukraine's richest oligarch);
-> Social Media and blogging activities
-> and much more...
This intense Civil Society activity creates a huge pressure on the Ukranian President and Government, and plays a key role in the balance of power in Europe and the world (see reasons below).
The key "players" in this great chess game constantly change their positions and tactics, and the situation remains very fluid:
Maintains its position that the Free Trade Agreement is good for Ukraine in the long-term (although it admits it would be painful in the short term).
However, due to the procedural nature of the Union, it does not have a coherent strategy, and cannot respond quickly to events. (For example, after Euromaidan started, Putin dropped calls for Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union, and increased the benefits to the agreement with Yanukovich. On the other hand the EU did not change their offer and did not offer incentives to alleviate the short term pains that would come from their Free Trade Agreement, which would have likely made Yanukovich go for that Agreement).
The EU has also been criticised for not engaging effectively with the civil society and opposition in Ukraine, (as well as with the Civil Societies of other countries of the Eastern Partnership, such as Belarus).
It has been known for a many months that Putin has promised to do whatever it takes to ensure Ukraine remains in his "area of influence".
Although the EU was aware of this, they did not respond, or adjust their strategy in any way.
Putin however spent 15 billion from a Russian reserve fund, meant for the well-being of the Russians, in order to bail-out Ukraine temporarily. Russian experts have criticized this move as very bad for Russia, as it comes at the expense of the Russian people, and even if Ukraine joins the Eurasian Union one day, it will bring more negatives, than benefits, as it is a reluctant partner, and as Russia will always have to bail out this large and struggling country.
Prefers a Free Trade Agreement with the EU (as it is good for the businesses of the ruling elite), but knows that this will be painful to the economy for a couple of years - exactly before the elections in 2015...
Yanukovich continues to promise he will sign the Trade Agreement soon, but he has broken so many promises, the EU, and his electorate, largely do not trust him.
In addition the agreement on cheap gas prices with Russia can always be changed, which keeps Yanukovich's hands tied.
In the first weeks of EuroMaidan it was criticized for being fractured, ineffective and without a plan.
However, recent statements from all opposition leaders, stating that they will collectively select one candidate for the elections, as well as the development of a common "Maidan" organization supported by all of them, give hope that they can unite, create a plan together, and win the next elections.
Learn more about EuroMaidan, and follow the latest developments on these Pages:
How do YOU think events will develop?
What do you think is the best path for Ukraine and Europe?