The mass protests in Ukraine this week move in the opposite direction: They have roots in a desire for economic and political reform that EU membership could bring. They are the actions of a hopeful, if embattled, people. By bypassing Kyiv, US Secretary of State John Kerry has signaled his faith in an EU-led mediation effort. The world is watching. If the EU supports Ukrainians in their battle against creeping authoritarianism, it may revitalize its own democratic credibility in the process.
When President Viktor Yanukovych decided to turn his back on agreements that would have brought his country closer to the EU, tens of thousands of mostly young, pro-Western Ukrainians occupied the Maidan, turning it into #EuroMaidan, taking advantage of social media to coordinate an impressive demonstration across the country.
The Brits were baffled. Tweeting at the BBC, some called the demonstrators economically suicidal. Another suggested the UK should have a prime minister more like Yanukovych. Others speculated that the protests were being spun by the media to make the EU look good: Who speaks Russian? What are they really saying? Could this revolution really be about Brussels?