Burning Ukrainian Flag

Truce in Ukraine: Peace or Temporary Cease Fire

I am glad to see that Victor Yanukovych has finally taken decisive action in Ukraine.  Although it is late in coming, and not what many expected, at least it is done.

He has agreed to elections by December. This is really a defeat for democracy, as elections are to occur in 2015 anyway. A country seeking true democracy, as protesters say they want, would have waited and held elections just 11 months after the new December 2012 date. This really has possibilities of poor outcome: there is no clear leader among the opposition that is likely to win, and they cannot fully agree on much of anything; I do not wish to think what will happen if Yanukovych wins again; or what if there is another Orange Revolution fiasco where people simply tire of the re-elections and some inept president like former President Yuschenko is elected again. This is, however, a clear win for the fragmented opposition leaders. Now if they could only get the people to trust them.

The Rada has agreed to changes in the law that could free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. This would be a win for the EU and Tymoshenko’s party. It is also the right thing to do. Although she was clearly involved in making illegal profits from Russian gas, along with the brother of former President Yushchenko, she was the made the scapegoat by her bitter rival Yanukovych. It goes back to the corruption in the Ukrainian government.

What surprises me the most is rolling back the constitution to 2004’s constitution, which removes power from the president. This was not actually something Yanukovych put in place, rather than opposition leader Yushenko made the changes. It is a power the opposition wanted, and Yanukovych was against, at the time.

The other interesting thing is that the Ukrainian authorities, the EU, and opposition leaders will watch investigations into violence of the past several days. Considering the Ukrainian and opposition leaders are accused, it is kind of like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep. Hopefully the EU can fairly check this time.

And what of the financial state of Ukraine (see Analysis)? I doubt we will see the EU step up to bail Ukraine out, and I would not put full trust in Russia’s promises of support.

Will the peace hold out for the next 24 hours? 48 hours? The opposition was forced into signing by the EU, and the protesters do not support the agreement.  People in the East (Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk) and South (Crimea) are stockpiling weapons, and look at a “unity government” with great suspicion. Even politicians in the US are fighting among themselves over Ukraine.

Betting people are saying “no,” this will not last.

We will see.