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Issue Guide: Crisis in Ukraine

Author: CFR.org Editors
February 18, 2014

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The latest eruption of violence in Ukraine has brought its protracted political unrest—rooted in a dispute over strengthening ties with the European Union—to its bloodiest phase yet. Some analysts are concerned that further bloodshed will end the chance for crucial power-sharing compromises seen as the best path for resolving the dispute and restoring stability. This roundup of expert analysis examines the conflict and consequences for regional stability.

Antigovernment protestors clash with riot police on February 18, 2014. (Photo: David Mdzinarishvili/Courtesy Reuters)

Washington Post: The Three Big Reasons That Protests Reignited in Ukraine
Ukraine is still demographically divided, its government is still troubled by corruption, and its economy is still in bad shape. As long as those things are all true, public unrest is likely to continue, writes foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher.

FT: The West's Goals in Ukraine
The need for an urgent reaction is understandable. But, it is not yet evident that the crisis in Ukraine will do anything to clarify the EU and the U.S.'s strategic goals in Ukraine, writes FT's Gideon Rachman.

Commentary: Losing Ukraine
The United States and its European allies have a major stake in making sure that Ukraine does not once again revert to de facto Russian control, but to avert that fate will require more political leadership starting in Washington, writes CFR's Max Boot.

New Republic: What's Happening in Kiev Right Now Is Putin's Worst Nightmare
Putin is tightening the screws because this is what stability looks like, and that, to Putin, by all accounts a man deeply traumatized by the chaotic collapse of the Soviet Union, is worth any price, writes senior editor Julia Ioffe.

Strategic Europe: What Ukraine's Crisis Means for the EU
Carnegie Europe's Judy Dempsey says the EU must start selling itself, not just in Ukraine but also in Georgia and Moldova, and that it can no longer avoid the issue of Eastern enlargement.

Economist: Maidan on My Mind
Pro-European Ukrainians feel they are allied with far-right groups against a more sinister enemy. The tactics used by the riot police have only strengthened this conviction, explains the Economist.

Der Spiegel: Dithering in Kiev
Even if the Kremlin is unable to sway Yanukovich to bring a forceful end to the protests, observers in Moscow believe that it will prevail in pulling Ukraine over to its side, writes Christopher Neef.

Deutsche Welle: The U.S. and EU Have Leverage in Ukraine
Financial sanctions on some members of Ukrainian President Yanukovich's team could be a useful tool to help resolve Ukraine's political crisis, says Brookings Senior Fellow Steven K. Pifer.

New York Times: What the West Must Do for Ukraine
If Washington and Brussels seek a peaceful settlement that returns Ukraine to a democratic path, it must act now, write former ambassadors to Ukraine John Herbst, William Green Miller, Steven K. Pifer, and William B. Taylor, Jr.

CFR Book: Ukraine: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions
Ukraine has a classic rentier curse, writes Andrew Wilson of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Oligarchs and politicians, often one and the same, extract rents from the transit of energy and other scams. Some prices are market based and others controlled, creating huge opportunities for arbitrage. Various licenses and concessions depend on political favor, facilitating corrupt lobbying, and oligarchs have manipulated the political process to ensure a supply of subsidized gas, coal, and electricity.

Global Conflict Tracker: Political Unrest in Ukraine
Despite recent government concessions, protests have expanded beyond Kiev and continue to intensify. CFR's Global Conflict Tracker provides an overview of the crisis.

Interview: Can Ukraine Pull Back From the Brink?
Ukraine is in the throes of its most serious domestic unrest in the post-Soviet period and could be on the precipice of civil war, says Adrian Karatnycky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

CFR Blog: Macro and Markets: Five Financial Questions for Ukraine
The possibility of political change, coupled with Russia's decision to suspend disbursements on its $12 billion financial package, has created an opening for meaningful economic reforms and renewed ties with global financial bodies, writes CFR's Robert Kahn.

Foreign Policy: Ukraine's False Choice
"The real choice is not between painful economic reforms from the West and cheap gas and easy money from Russia. It is a choice between who imposes and enforces the necessary reforms and a balancing of political and economic costs and benefits," write CFR's Heidi Crebo-Rediker and Douglas Rediker.

Foreign Affairs: The Ukrainian Opposition's Moment of Truth
"At first blush [the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov] might have seemed like a perfect opportunity for Ukraine's three opposition leaders—Vitali Klitschko, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk—to step in and take his place. Instead, it put them in a difficult situation and highlighted the tensions between them and the protesters," writes Annabelle Chapman.

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