Interference in Ukraine Still Makes No Sense
As protests in Kiev have started turning violent, the Postdemands increased Western interference:
Western governments cannot control events in Ukraine, whatever Mr. Putin may think. But they could be doing much more than they are to prevent a nation that was headed toward integration with the democratic West from becoming an autocratic Kremlin colony, like neighboring Belarus.
In practice, there is not that much that the EU or the U.S. can do to affect what is happening in Ukraine, but it is also not obvious that there is anything more that Western governments should be doing. The measures that the editorial recommends are small enough that they are unlikely to change the government’s behavior, but they are also just enough to give misleading encouragement to a protest movement that has been losing the support of Ukrainians in recent weeks. Hannah Thoburn cited recent polling information in her article on the protests:
Polling from late December shows that while 43% of Ukrainians do want to join the European Union now (13 points higher than any other option), fully 50% of Ukrainians do not support the Kiev protests. That latter statistic marks a turnaround in Ukraine’s tolerance for the protest—only weeks prior a majority had supported them. More significantly, only 31% of Ukrainians believe that the outcome of the protests will be positive for Ukraine.
Today’s violent protests may only strengthen ordinary Ukrainians’ desire to see an end to the bedlam.
Increased Western pressure at this point could easily contribute to continued instability, which is the last thing that Ukraine needs and also appears to be what most Ukrainians don’t want. If the U.S. or EU has any role to play here, it ought to be one of helping to calm tensions rather than stoking them.