Fallout From Protests Continue As Ukranian President Travels To China
President Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine attempted to quell the demands for his resignation on Monday by reaching out to the European Union to seek a reopening talks about the trade deal he rejected last week.
“A diplomat familiar with Mr. Yanukovych’s call to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso on Monday described the tone as sober. The substance of their conversation was described by officials on both sides. Mr. Yanukovych did find support from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has pushed to reassert Moscow’s influence over the former Soviet republics, and had threatened economic retaliation if Kiev pulled closer to the EU,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
Given the strong reaction from the international community to the crackdown and calls for his resignation, it is not surprising Yanukovych departed Ukraine for China to discuss potential trade deals. But it is not likely to stem the current crisis.
The chilly response from the EU was one sign that Yanukovych may have overplayed his hand. On Tuesday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State John Kerry planned to cancel a scheduled trip to the Ukranian capital.
In addition to political ramifications, there are worries that extended strikes could damage Ukraine’s economy and could lead to a default.
The Financial Times reports that opposition leaders hope to force a no-confidence vote today. But, the paper noted, “it was not clear if the ousting of the government of prime minister Mykola Azarov would be enough to satisfy demonstrators who are insisting Mr Yanukovich must stand down. Opposition leaders handed their demands, topped by the president’s resignation, to Ukraine’s parliament speaker, but refused his invitation to sit down for roundtable talks.”
The concerns about Ukraine’s economy likely will continue even after the government survived a no confidence vote.
The Washington Post editorial board weighed in saying that a revolution was not the solution needed in the former Soviet bloc nation.
“The best solution to the crisis would be “roundtable” political negotiations between the government and the opposition, which also followed the 2004 revolt. That would give Mr. Yanukovych the opportunity to address the source of the unrest by agreeing to set a new date for a E.U. agreement. If the parliament passes a vote of no confidence in the current prime minister and cabinet, the president could appoint replacements. European governments could step up to offer Ukraine aid in meeting its looming financial obligations, provided it comes to terms with the IMF.
“Ultimately, the way for Ukraine to settle the debate over its geopolitical orientation is through free elections. Opposition leaders should begin preparing to challenge Mr. Yanukovych and his followers next year — and Western governments should aim to ensure that the competition will be fair,” wrote the editors.