Press-Republican

FYI...

February 4, 2014

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Ultimately, the deeper issues here are Ukraine's troubled economy and its unresolved national identity. Outside countries (including Russia) can certainly help with the former, but the latter can be solved by only Ukrainians.

9. What's going to happen next?

The parliament rolled back most of the anti-protest law that had so angered people; it also passed a blanket amnesty for protesters, provided they leave government buildings they've occupied.

Putin has put the $15 billion financial aid on hold, which could actually make it easier for Yanukovych to walk away from Putin and go back to the European Union deal.

Still, protests are spreading rapidly including into the country's Russian-speaking eastern regions. Right now, the immediate crisis is about more than the European Union deal or the cultural divide or even the anti-protest law, even if all those things brought Ukraine's crisis to this point. Yanukovych's not-terribly-adept handling of the two-month crisis has forced him into a very tight little corner.

There is chatter among analysts, in Moscow as well as Washington, that if Yanukovych panics and calls in the military to disperse protesters it could lead to a civil war. That looks like an extremely remote possibility at this point; probably more likely that the government and opposition leaders strike a deal, the government muddles through and Yanukovych is voted out overwhelmingly in the February 2015 election. But the fact that civil war is being discussed at all shows the degree of international concern and uncertainty around what comes next for Ukraine.

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