But the issue today, whether Kyiv aligns economically with Europe or Russia, doesn’t much concern the United States. Other than warn against violent repression of peaceful protests, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration should not meddle in Ukraine.
Ukraine was part of both imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, despite the persistent desire of many for independence. When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Ukraine became the largest territory to split off. However, in the years since it has been badly divided and governed.
In 2004 the Orange Revolution helped deliver the presidency to Western-favorite Viktor Yushchenko over Yanukovych. However, Yushchenko proved to be ineffective and inconsistent. He fell out with his one-time ally, “gas princess” Yulia Tymoshenko, the now-imprisoned former prime minister who made a fortune in the natural gas industry. When he ran for reelection five years later he finished fifth with 5.4 percent.