Reports that Western countries are examining options to provide short-term assistance to help Ukraine through a transition period and presidential elections have boosted the morale of the country's opposition movement to unseat President Viktor Yanukovich (Bloomberg). Protests have continued since November, when Yanukovich reversed course on closer ties with Europe and turned to Moscow for a loan. Meanwhile, Lithuania has taken in injured Ukrainian opposition leader Dmytro Bulatov for treatment. Bulatov was allegedly kidnapped and beaten for eight days; however, Ukraine's foreign minister said he only had a scratch on his cheek and that the abduction story might have been fabricated (BBC).
"This is the most serious standoff and violent altercation that has ever occurred in post-Soviet Ukrainian history. Even in the period leading up to Ukrainian sovereignty, the late 1980s, there was nothing even resembling the Black Sunday crackdown that occurred in Lithuania. There was no loss of life from protests and demonstrations during the last years of the Soviet period, so a taboo has been broken with the shedding of blood and the deaths of protestors," Adrian Karatnycky, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, tells CFR in an interview.
"The west must be prepared to give immediate financial assistance to Ukraine if a new government comes to power that seeks to renew ties with the EU. Such a government would face a severe financial emergency. The International Monetary Fund should be prepared to inject several billion dollars into Ukraine's economy to stabilize the country's financial position immediately," the Financial Times writes in an editorial.
"Unlike Europe and the United States, Russia has a clear stance on Ukraine. Vladimir Putin's hope for the future is his Eurasian Union, to be established next January as a rival to the European Union. Belarusian and Kazakh strongmen are game to join his dictators' club. But since the idea has little popular support anywhere, Eurasian integration can take place only in conditions of Russian domination and local dictatorship. For Mr. Putin, the Eurasian Union would be meaningless without Ukraine," writes Timothy Snyder in the New York Times.