The Euromaidan Thread

Discuss all things Euromaidan here and vote in the poll (tick as many options as you like).


My own opinion is “Protests die down as Yanukovych reasserts control,” for reasons that I will expound upon in a forthcoming post. But I have made many of the arguments already on my Twitter feed where I, like many other East Europe watchers, have been closely following Ukraine of late.


  1. I have voted that Yanukovitch will reassert control and that the protests will die down. The means for Yanukovitch to do that exist. The number of protesters is far lower than a month ago. It is striking that the opposition leaders did not call their usual big Sunday demo on Maidan today almost certainly because they know that very few people other than those already there would turn up. I suspect that the events of the last week have actually lost them support. The tide of opinion was in fact already starting to shift against them before the events of the last week. However I do not cast this vote with any very great conviction because Yanukovitch’s response has been so weak and incompetent allowing the initiative to pass out of his hands. The next week will be crucial. The opposition cannot afford further stalemate and if they do not achieve a breakthrough over the course of the next week especially at the parliamentary session on Tuesday the tide on the streets may start to ebb again. However if Yanukovitch continues to show weakness he runs the risk that his own support will become demoralised and will start to crumble. It is amazing that there have been so few defections up to now and that the police have remained loyal and solid. Given Yanukovitch’s complete lack of loyalty to his own supporters (witness his willingness to dump Azarov) that is little short of extraordinary.

  2. I think it’s too early to say, but some options can be excluded. Either #1, #2, #3, # 6 or #7. I did not vote because these options are all equally possible.

    You did not include as an option some kind of deal being agreed upon, based on the concessions Yanukovich has already offered but going further. I think this would be most likely, though I certainly wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Sorry, an oversight on my part; I’ve added it in. It’s just that the opposition Troika had rejected it already, and Yanukovych said the offer only stands until Tuesday, so it slipped my mind (even though realistically it still remains orders of magnitude more likely than all the wild civil war/intervention scenarios).

  3. operationkickass says:

    Yanukovitch’s problem is that, by sitting on the bench, he cannot be a homerun-hitter.

  4. I don’t think the bombast dire predicts of Ukraine being partitioned, foreign militaries intervening or a civil war are in any sense realistic. With Russian and EU negotiations like with Syria there is usually a settlement that interests both parties.

    Why should Russia be involved in Ukraine?

    It is supporting a corrupt, criminal regime who can only gather support by offering rewards for supporting government protests whose president that Russia will have to support with billions of dollars in aid and get international condemnation for interfering and supporting the regime.

    Better to let it depart from Russian sphere of influence and if it fails or succeed it will be on its own merit.

  5. In my view, Yanukovich is going to win this one and eventually he will restore control over the whole country.

    However, without lasting political solution (which doesn’t seem likely now), there will be an armed insurgency in Western Ukraine as in 1950s.

    But we should put this in perspective, after all, having a low-level insurgency is pretty common thing in most countries nowadays. Ukraine will join likes of Russia, Egypt, Thailand, India, Mexico, China, Indonesia, etc.

    So, in the end, Kiev will be pretty safe (though unruly at times), but visitors will be advised to avoid Galician countryside roaming with bandits, that’s all.

    • Extremely doubtful. Western Ukrainians don’t hate tourists, particularly western ones. Galician countryside would only be unsafe for federal police. Moreover, Galicia is the safest part of Ukraine from the perspective of crime: decent, churchgoing people, capable of political violence but less so the criminal kind (a little like Germans or Japanese). So talk of “bandits” making the countryside unsafe is absurd. More:

      Note Volyn in western Ukraine is represented, but the Galician oblasts are not mentioned.

      In case Yanukovich manages to crush dissent, violence will most likely take the form of terror attacks, sniper shootings at government and oligarch targets, as well probably Russian ones. Such attacks will enjoy the passive but not active support of much of central and western Ukraine’s citizens (i.e., people in Kiev won’t be very cooperative with the investigators and will be sympathetic, as long as civilians don’t get killed).

    • With the caveat that AP knows a lot more about West Ukrainian society than I do, I would venture to say that I think both the prospects of either low-level insurgency or terrorist attacks are both low.

      There are a few reasons for this.

      First, West Ukraine is a low-fertility society. Yes, you heard that right. To really sustain an insurgency or partisan war, you need a TFR of at least 3-4 (e.g. Chechnya, 1940s USSR) or preferably 6 (Afghanistan). When it is, in reality, at just around ~2 – and lower for the previous 20 years – societies become a lot more risk-averse and the relative value of lives goes up a lot. (Needless to say fighting a guerilla war is pretty dangerous).

      Second, Ukraine isn’t a banana republic. It’s got good security/intelligence services, and they will get a lot of intelligence support from Russia.

      Finally, there is an embedded mechanism that would prevent this from getting out of control regardless of what happens. If Ukraine should become truly authoritarian on the Belarus model (and Yanukovych is nowhere near that)… well, for all the failings of such states, one thing that can be said for them is that they effectively keep terrorism in check. If, however, Ukraine remains broadly as it is – a state that is not very liberal or democratic, but likewise not authoritarian – then the incentives/passions for engaging in terrorism will likewise be much lower.

      • The Wikipedia says that Spain’s TFR went below 2 in 1982 and that the Basque autonomous community had 2.13 million people in 1981 and 2.18 million in 2011. Yet ETA kept blowing stuff up in the 80s, 90s and even 2000s. Having said that, I have no idea how likely an armed insurgency would be in the Ukraine.

        • I think Anatoly is correct with respect to guerrilla warfare, but not with respect to terrorism. I also agree with him that the chances of either are slim, though much slimmer for guerrilla war than for terrorism. There will be a lot of angry bitter people in western and central Ukraine, and a bitter “lone wolf” person willing to shoot someone or use a bomb wouldn’t be out of the question. Such a person would be difficult for even a very competent security agency to stop.

          I don’t know how credible this is but it might foreshadow things to come:

        • Good point Glossy, but I don’t think they are very comparable.

          The Basques are a distinct nationality, many of whom want their own state (Madrid disagrees). But Ukrainians are a majority in every Ukrainian oblast (Crimea is the sole exception, but it is an autonomous republic anyway). Their dispute boils down to about how close to Russia they want to be.

          This, incidentally, stops well short of uniting with Russia into one state among almost all Ukrainians. Only ~15% of them support this and this percentage is only marginally higher among Russians in Russia. So a situation like the Basques in Spain, the Catholic Irish in the UK, or for that matter the Muslim Caucasian ethnic minorities in Russia are simply not on the cards for West Ukrainians barring all but the wildest Anschluss fantasies.

          The average Ukrainian will see very little visible/obvious differences for the worse if Ukraine was to enter the Customs Union, or even the Eurasian Union later. There won’t be an influx of Russian settlers, or Russian military bases propping up everywhere. Travel to the EU will remain as before – not simple, but far from impossible either, with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians illicitly working there anyway (incidentally, that would have long been the case if Ukraine were to sign the Association Agreement too, as it has nothing on free movement of labor).

          It would be difficult to identify who you’d even want to bomb/assassinate. Though I don’t disagree with AP, lone wolves are of course always a possibility, but that is a long cry from what you have with ETA/the IRA.

          • “The Basques are a distinct nationality, many of whom want their own state (Madrid disagrees). But Ukrainians are a majority in every Ukrainian oblast (Crimea is the sole exception, but it is an autonomous republic anyway). Their dispute boils down to about how close to Russia they want to be.

            Well, it’s not quite like that. The thinking among many in western Ukraine is that Ukraine’s current government whose president is half-Russian half-Belarussian and whose now former but still acting prime minister is a Russian immigrant who arrived in Ukraine in his middle age, is a neo-colonial “occupation” government. They cite statistics which I haven’t verified that claim that less than half the Rada are ethnic Ukrainian. In their view, Ukrainians are a bit like the blacks in Apartheid-era independent South Africa, ruled by the local descendants and heirs of the colonial masters. True independence has not yet been achieved. Such an attitude is not majority, but it is common enough in western Ukraine. I think Svoboda feels that way, although it has the smallest support base of the three “Orange” parties.

            In the increasingly, and extremely, unlikely event of Yanukovich establishing complete dictatorial control, the idea of “national liberation” would probably become dominant in western Ukrainian regions and would have strong resonance in the country’s center.

      • Yugoslavia’s TFR was well below 2.0 by the late 1980s. If you leave out Kosovo and Macedonia (both poorer, more backward, and higher fertility), all the rest of Yugoslavia went below replacement fertility in the early 1980s — a decade before the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks started killing each other en masse.

        Sri Lanka has had low TFRs for an Asian country since the 1970s; they hovered around 2.2-2.6 through the 1990s and early 2000s, and are currently right around replacement. Needless to say, this did not prevent Sri Lanka from having 20 years of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and a spectacularly bloody civil war.

        Libya’s TFR is either right at replacement, or just below it, depending on whose statistics you believe. Certainly it was already getting down around 2.1 or so when Libya’s civil war broke out in 2011.

        — To be clear, I actually agree with you that there’s a correlation between fertility and political violence. But while it’s a real correlation, it’s loose. You can’t say “oh, a country with low fertility simply CAN’T have terrorism and mass political violence”. Less likely, sure. But can’t? People are determined, Anatoly. Hate will find a way.

        Doug M.

  6. Azarov has tendered his resignation.

    • Is it too early to be cautiously optimistic about a peaceful compromise between the sides? It seems (thank God) to be moving in this direction.

  7. Are you preparing an article in the latest developments in Ukraine Karlin?

    Why the silence?