Ukraine's Worst Case Scenario
Views expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kennan Institute.
The latest news from Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine shows that the situation is developing according to the worst scenario: the country is truly on the edge of a new spiral of violence of national scale.
Yanukovych and his milieu are refusing to see the obvious: they have lost control over developments not only in Kyiv, but also in most regions of Ukraine. Only the far Eastern and Southern regions still remain relatively stable. In Central and Western regions, violence against representatives of the authorities is growing.
Total corruption, conviction of the innocent, arrests and repressions, as well as mass killings and beatings in Kyiv and other big cities, have almost entirely delegitimized representatives of the authorities and deprived them of immunity. Berkut torturing and killing dozens in open hostility with the population may, in the next few days, turn the protests into uncontrolled violence. Due to a complete legal vacuum, Ukrainians throughout the country will be attempting to even the score with local representatives of the authorities for past injustices. Now that massive numbers of local police units have ceased answering to the central government, there is no reason to believe that the army will remain neutral for long. Today in Ukraine, we have all the prerequisites for developments similar to the Great French Revolution, which was bloodily replicated in Russia by the February revolution and subsequent October upheaval.
Immediate negotiations between the authorities and the opposition on the creation of a temporary government and the dismissal of President Yanukovych from power, as well as the cessation of violence by Berkut and other police, may still stop Ukraine from slipping into the general chaos of civil war. The efforts of police forces should be urgently redirected from arresting the wounded in hospitals to removing from Kyiv the titushki and other organized criminal groups that were brought here by the ruling elite.
As long as opposition leaders still have the authority to negotiate with Yanukovych, the international community should take every measure to support them in an attempt to restore order in Ukraine. If power is not transferred from Yanukovych to a temporary government immediately, a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Ukraine will be postponed indefinitely.