The timing of the court’s decision is inconvenient for Ukraine’s government and for the European Union. Both want to declare that Ukraine has met its conditions for signing an Association Agreement, which has a May deadline.
An Association Agreement, a kind of halfway house to EU membership, would institutionalize the country’s balancing act between the EU and Russia. One of the few things that unite Ukraine’s politically divided east and west is a desire to sign the pact, which has a free-trade agreement attached. But among the European Council’s conditions of the Association Agreement, set out in December, was that it expects Ukrainian authorities “to address the cases of politically motivated convictions without delay.”