Russia has formally finalized their annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, bringing it into the Russian Federation after last weekend’s referendum. The rest of Ukraine, now led by an unelected, pro-West interim government, is charting a course toward the European Union.
Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was in Brussels today to sign the initial elements of a broad trade pact with the European Union, saying he believed the EU would provide a “strong voice” for the eventual return of Crimea to Ukrainian rule.
That’s not what the trade pact was designed to do, of course, and Ukrainian officials had been negotiating it throughout 2013 in hopes of improving their struggling economy. Elected President Yanukovych had ditched the pact in November, preferring an offer for closer ties to Russia.
While the practical merits of the EU pact are likely not to be realized by Ukraine for some time, it is remarkable how quickly, after the elected government chose to break off the talks, the interim government was able to go from taking over in violent protests to signing off on the EU deal.