/ For the Register
Published: Dec. 3, 2013 Updated: 2:28 p.m.
PARESH NATH / CAGLE CARTOONS
The largest crowds in
history descended Sunday onto Ukraine Independence
Square, scene of the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Demonstrators closed off the city center, using Christmas trees, city benches,
metal fences and barricades. Protestors occupied City Hall and the trade union
The government is in disarray: at least two parliamentarians from the ruling Party of Regions have resigned, as well as the chief of the presidential administration staff. The
chief of police
attempted to resign but was slapped with a suspension. The president is
considering declaring a state of emergency, while the parliament is considering
curtailing his powers. Kiev
It didn't have to be this way. On Thursday and Friday in
Vilnius, Lithuania, the European Union welcomed Georgia and into the EU's Eastern
President Yanukovych had little room to maneuver. Even though he had been negotiating with the European Union for months, the odds have always favored his alignment with
. Moscow Russia supplies with 60 percent of its
natural gas, and the two countries have been squabbling for months over price
for the commodity. The EU has pledged to sell Ukraine Ukraine
natural gas through a reverse flow pipeline from , but the quantities are
insufficient to replace Russian gas. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor
Shuvalov offered a carrot: cheaper gas if Slovakia Kiev
halts free trade talks with Europe.
Yanukovych is trying to keep his options open, stating he has not abandoned the idea of joining the European Union someday. Equally telling, he has not agreed immediately to joining the rival, Moscow-backed Eurasian Customs Union.
These half measures have not appeased the crowds, however, who are demanding his resignation.
Ukraine and are supposed to set the
natural gas price for 2014 in the next two weeks: a strong enough price cut
might shore up Yanukovych's support – if the news doesn't arrive too late. Russia
James J. Coyle is the director of Global Education at
and is the
chair of the Eurasian committee of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
He has also held various positions in the federal government, including
director of Middle East studies at the Chapman
. Army War College