Samuel Charap and and Keith Darden explain why Ukraine isn’t ready for closer integration with Europe. They also don’t think it makes any sense for Western governments to back the opposition’s demands:
So while Western officials may feel an affinity for the views embodied by the 500,000 protesters in Kiev, they should remember that 12.5 million Ukrainians voted for Mr. Yanukovich in 2010 on a platform of restoring ties with Russia.
Western officials recognized the results of that election and, like it or not, they need to accept the decisions of the government it produced. Throwing the full support of the United States and Europe behind the opposition’s efforts to oust Ukraine’s elected government seems decidedly unwise when a legitimate path for changing that government is available in presidential elections in early 2015.
There have been several bad habits that many Westerners have displayed in their reaction to the Kiev protests, but probably the most glaring has been the automatic conclusion that whatever the protesters demanded represented what “the Ukrainian people” want. No one faction or coalition ever represents the whole of “the people,” and claiming to speak on behalf of the entire nation is frequently a self-serving argument designed to mask how controversial or unpopular a particular party’s position truly is. In our own political debates, Westerners are appropriately skeptical of generalizations about what “the people” want, since we are well aware of the political divisions in our countries. That skepticism seems to disappear whenever there are protests against a foreign government, especially when it is a foreign government that Westerners view unfavorably.
As soon as the opposition in another country takes to the streets in sufficiently large numbers, quite a few Westerners will jump to the conclusion that “the people” have spoken and must be heeded. No matter how unrepresentative a protest movement may actually be, it will tend to be treated as the embodiment of an entire nation. Part of this is to provide an alibi for the desire to meddle in another country’s politics: we’re not really meddling, you see, we’re just supporting the aspirations of “the people.” This requires ignoring large sections of the other country, and in some cases flatly rejecting the preferences of the majority in favor of what some Westerners want for a given country, but standing with “the people” sounds much better than taking sides in a political contest that is none of our business.