Europe’s Ukrainian Linchpin

Frustrated by immobilism and corruption, Europe has turned away from Ukraine – a stance that could turn out to be a significant mistake. After all, Europe and Russia meet in Ukraine, and its fate will not only be a crucial factor in defining European security, but will also play a substantial role in future European-Russian relations.

BERLIN – Revolutions, it is said, almost always devour their children. Obviously, this is also true for the “color revolutions” – first in Georgia, and now in Ukraine, where President Viktor Yushchenko, the hero of the “Orange Revolution” in 2004, was voted out in the first round of presidential elections a few weeks ago, having received less than 6% of the vote.

By that point, Ukraine’s springtime of freedom had already deteriorated into a very visible development standstill, owing to a mixture of incompetence and corruption that cried out for change. Regardless of which of the remaining candidates will be elected in the upcoming runoff – the incumbent Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko or Viktor Yanukovych – the Orange Revolution will have come to an end.

So it is worth looking back to the hopes that were linked to those wonderfully expectant days and nights on Maidan Square in the center of Kiev, and to Yushchenko’s electoral victory. It was a victory of democracy and independence over electoral fraud and naked power.

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