The twentieth anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union comes at a moment of unique challenge and opportunity for the country, as Ukrainians look to their new leaders to resolve longstanding problems.
If Kyiv does not reconsider its course on the political trial and verdict of Yulia Tymoshenko, it could mean an end to Ukraine's possibilities of deeper integration with the EU.
The harsh verdict for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko demonstrates that Ukraine’s leadership prioritizes removing the opposition’s strongest candidate before parliamentary elections above good relations with the West.
The criminal prosecution of Ukraine’s former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and her associates reveals the fragility of Ukraine’s democracy and the weakness of rule of law in the country.
The state of governance in Ukraine today is the subject of widespread debate, with Ukrainian and international observers citing evidence of democratic backsliding under Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
While there has been a reawakening of sorts between Russia and Ukraine, relations between the two remain essentially unbalanced and tensions over gas disputes and trade are likely to continue to undermine bilateral relations.
While the European Union is keen to strengthen its relations with Ukraine, some member states are wary of the lack of democracy and the weak rule of law in the country.
Promoting democracy in the six post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe that were designated by the European Union as deserving special attention will require the EU to offer incentives for implementing reforms.
A legally binding free-trade agreement could be a key instrument in the EU's efforts to push Ukraine to reform.
Amid growing concern over Viktor Yanukovych’s policies, the question remains to what extent the current political set-up in Ukraine can withstand international and domestic pressure.