The motivations of Ukraine’s President Yanukovych were clearly driven by Big Bad Vlad Putin’s Eurasian Union.
The course of the protest has very much been influenced by the presence of a rival project, based in Moscow, called the Eurasian Union. This is an international commercial and political union that does not yet exist but that is to come into being in January 2015. The Eurasian Union, unlike the European Union, is not based on the principles of the equality and democracy of member states, the rule of law, or human rights.
On the contrary, it is a hierarchical organization, which by its nature seems unlikely to admit any members that are democracies with the rule of law and human rights. Any democracy within the Eurasian Union would pose a threat to Putin’s rule in Russia. Putin wants Ukraine in his Eurasian Union, which means that Ukraine must be authoritarian, which means that the Maidan must be crushed.
The protesters have claimed victory (Yanukovych refuses to resign as I type this) so this bodes ill for Putin and his power play. But it should not diminish the significance of that project. It is nothing short of a strong arm effort to create a de facto Soviet union without actually calling it that.
Putin did not want the Ukraine to partner up with the EU (trade treaty). That was how this all got started. He still won’t want that, so the question is, what can or will he do with any new President and different kind of leadership in place? Will he play chess and bide his time or can he just use more aggresive tactics knowing that with Obama as President, he will be free to do so without more than a few pointless expressions of
limp soft power.