To realize its western aspirations, Ukraine must first successfully execute a national election as planned on May 25, despite meddling. This election will give credence and legitimacy to a Kiev government.
But as Kiev looks to complete this de jure process, consideration of the impact of events and realities upon the country are worth mentioning as Ukraine seeks to emerge from the shadows of the Russian Federation.
As Ukrainians converged on the Maidan last fall, its treasury was already empty. Corruption, mismanagement along with the high cost of energy from Russia, contributed to the empty coffers. As protesters urged former president Yanukovych to sign an EU deal to which he balked and fled to China and Russia seeking eastern remedies over a western solution in deference to his people, the Ukrainian crisis deepened. A Russian pledge of cut rate gas and loans to Ukraine upon the condition Yanukovych diffused the Maidan protest, appear to give the former president some comfort; but it invigorated protesters, who, obviously sensing that with Russia's help, they would have to continue to live under Moscow's wing even longer. As Yanukovych got heavy-handed with protesters, they matched his might. An agreement with protesters and the opposition with Yanukovych appear to be the solution, but the former president continued to press for the clearing of the Maidan to appease his Russian creditor. Protesters fought back; Yanukovych departed; and Russia, sensing an erosion of Russian influence over Ukraine, instituted Putin's plan B to menace Ukraine, to retain a former soviet sphere of influence somewhere in Ukraine. Crimea went to Russia and now a large swath of eastern Ukraine has been under pro Russian agitation.
Russian menacing has been the single biggest negative impact upon Ukraine aspirations. Russia has been able to succeed in obstructing Ukraine desires because of the large (17 plus percent) number of Russians and Russian speakers from Crimea to the industrial east of Ukraine. Any compromises between the Central government in Kiev and pro Russian eastern Ukraine will be a source of future instability to the Kiev government.
In appeasing Russia, acting Ukraine prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, has declared that NATO membership is not on Ukraine's agenda, a major failing. His attempts to appease Russia has gotten Ukraine naught. Moreover, the prime minister's indecisive use of security forces in Crimea and eastern Ukraine has contributed to current conditions in Ukraine, thus a failing. Ukraine never mounted any real concerted efforts to defend its sovereign territory. Against a background of ultra right elements within Ukraine, and perhaps even in its government; and without a clear declaration that Ukraine seeks NATO membership; coupled with the fact that Ukraine troops barely engaged menacing groups to maintain its national identity, no country could possibly commit troops to help Ukraine.
Gains Ukraine has made include the signing of the first part of an agreement leading to EU membership and sureties of monetary assistance from the United States and the EU.
To realize its aspirations, Ukraine has to reconfigure its borders to include those who support its EU desires. As painful and draconian as it may seem, Ukraine must sever the sources of future instability. It has to declare an explicit desire to join NATO. It has to reform its economy, social and political sectors; maintain democracy and reign in its far right elements. If Ukraine could make a policy statement to this effect tomorrow, NATO, in my opinion, should help Ukraine safeguard its national identity with Ukrainian troops at the front.