In the executive branch, the U.S. State Department and others are playing the good cop role: Officials are still trying to engage and persuade Ukraine’s leaders that political prisoners, democracy and human rights are more important for the Western world than Yanukovych thinks.
In conversations with the Kyiv Post, State Department officials stress that sanctions will inevitably lead to Ukraine’s growing isolation and, therefore, are not on the U.S. agenda as long as Ukraine’s leaders return to the democratic path.
However, it appears that if Ukraine’s leaders keep moving in the wrong direction, the U.S. may put more bite to its bark. In the past year, Washington has sent clear messages to official Kyiv. To express their concern, many top officials — including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Thomas Melia – have made trips to Ukraine.