History has taught us well that winning the war is easy; winning the peace is the difficult part. Revolutions have a habit of not always turning out as expected by those who manned the barricades and put their lives on the line. France 225 years ago; Iran 35 years ago; Libya and Egypt just recently, to give a couple of examples. Part of the problem is that the longer moderate reforms are refused and suppressed, the more likelihood of extremists taking over. Ukraine was lucky; it only had a three day war. Some of them have been on-going for 30 years.
The EU finally got its act together and in all night negotiations came up with a compromise solution which Yanukovych has agreed to. Early elections (not very but at least this year, not next); back to the 2004 constitution which greatly limits presidential powers; a unity government and a few other things I can’t recall of the top. At first the radical element on Maidan rejected it as they want Yanukovych resignation immediately as they do not trust him as far as you can bounce an anvil in a swamp. But the army has not been called out, the Berkut and the cops have gone home and peace seems to have settled over the camp. Even the Ukrainian TV stations are broadcasting news of the protests again.
Deputies are leaving the Party of Regions, enough that Yanukovych may not have a majority in the Rada. The Rada voted unanimously on several resolutions (details HERE) including the constitution, and the firing of the head of interior security (the second most hated man in Ukraine), the state of emergency etc. Timoshenko’s eventual release was one of them. Having Yulia on the outside again will be different. She will likely end up as president; it was close last time; with the new/old constitution she will not be a loose cannon at least.
I hope that Yatsenyuk and Klitschko get very serious cabinet posts. They have been remarkable in all this. They were NOT the leaders of the protest but exerted what leadership they could and certainly when it came to negotiating, were far better than the hotheads (who were critical on the battlefront, I give them that!!!).
But no one is going home. Protesters are consolidating gains and holding on at least for now. Whether the radical crowd will accept it or continue making trouble is the question but I don’t think they have the support anymore. I could be wrong. And nobody trusts Yanukovych, as I said.
Some interesting questions to be answered: both sides accuse the other of breaking truces and starting the violence and today there was a clip on Kyiv Post that bullets that killed the police and the protesters were the same. Which could mean the same type but if it means the same weapons, then there were third parties involved, possibly unknown to either side. Who stood to gain by the violence? Russia if Yanukovych, cracked down violently; the West if it forced negotiations. A dangerous game either way and certainly not beyond either Empire to do it.
Deputies from Crimea were seen on TV tonight threatening to join Russia. Crimea is mostly ethnic Russian (60%) and was part of Russia until 1953. Separatism has been an item since independence. In 1996, the Crimean Tatars were allowed to return home after they had been exiled during The Great Patriotic War by Stalin. They are Muslim and they are not in any hurry to be reattached to Russia in any way, shape or form. (We laugh that they would rather join Turkey which controlled Crimea for a few centuries before the Russians and were a thorn in the side of Ukraine and favourite enemies of the Cossacks).
Hence the Kyiv Post clip below.
In a bid to tamp down pro-Russian separatist sentiment in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on Feb. 21 that "it will use severe measures to prevent any action taken against diminishing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine." The SBU noted that “certain politicians, local government officials, leaders of civil society organizations, and radically-inclined individuals have attempted to create grounds for escalating the civil conflict, and have spread autonomous and separatist attitudes among the people, which could lead to the demise of our as a united nation and loss of its national sovereignty.” In addition, the statement said that certain lawmakers of every level have begun separatist negotiations with representatives of foreign nations. “Open consultations are being held on the possible division of the country into separate parts in violation of the Ukrainian constitution,” read the statement. “This could lead to an escalation of conflict between different sectors of society, inciting ethnic or religious hatred and military conflict.”
All of this is the easy part. Once we have a new president, new cabinet, new constitution, new laws passed and so forth, the hard part begins. Undoing generations of corruption, cronyism, extortion and lawlessness that have extended their tentacles into every part of Ukrainian life. Because if we can’t, it will be back to the barricades one more time, in however many years. And every time, it gets more costly.
The other danger is the Russian reaction. Will they cut off trade and stop selling gas as they have said they would? They accuse the West of forcing Ukraine to choose one or the other. Not so. It was Putin doing the forcing. An initial trade agreement with the EU should in no way affect trade with Russia and if it actually does (cheap goods flowing through, originating in EU but sold to Russia as Ukrainian) then deal with it.
But at least the streets are quiet tonight. No more kids killed today though the death toll is 83 and may continue to rise as there are at least 17 in critical condition.