When demonstrators gathered in Kiev’s Maidan, they called for more freedom, more economic opportunities and closer ties with Europe. One individual standing between them and these aspirations was the then president, Viktor Yanukovych.
President Yanukovych alliance with Russia was injurious to realizing these aspirations, according to the predominantly western Ukrainian protesters who thronged Kiev independent square.
After three months of intense demonstration, Yanukovych abdicated the presidency in what was called in Moscow and by pro-Russian Ukrainians a coup against a democratically elected government.
Many in Ukraine and Europe celebrated the ouster of Yanukovych and called it a “reflection of the will of the protesters”.
However, few did consider the cost of severing ties with Moscow which has been the engine of Ukrainian economy.
Of course, the sheer joy of having to be associated with the European Union blinded most of the protesters and their leadership so they couldn’t have foreseen the repercussions of Maidan.
The first price Ukraine is paying after Maidan is the price of sovereignty. Right after the opposition took over the government in Kiev, Crimea moved to secede from Ukraine and joined Russia.
The move prompted EU and US to slam Russia and some elements in Crimea with sanctions intended to cow Moscow into subjugation, but so far the sanctions have had little or no effect on the situation in Ukraine; In fact, it has made it worse. Today, several states in Ukraine are calling for referendum to join Russia, especially states with significant Russian speaking population.
The blowback from the EU and US sanctions has led to the second price that Ukrainians are paying, which is the price of energy.
Gazprom, a Russian company which supplied all Ukraine gas at a heavily subsidized price has decided to sell to Ukraine at market price.
On the other side, Gazprom want Ukraine service all its’ debt before they take delivery of more Russian gas. The move has angered EU and US, and has called on Gazprom to reconsider its decision. Some have criticized Russia for using energy as a weapon against the people of Ukraine.
In less than a week, gas price in Ukraine has risen by 81% and is expected to increase further. The third price is the price of security. The high cost of energy and basic commodities has created an atmosphere of unease in Ukraine.
The promises from EU and US are delaying in coming, and people are beginning to doubt the ability of the current leadership to turn the fortunes of Ukrainians around for good.
As a result, several states in eastern Ukraine upon seeing the gains of Crimea have started their own version of Maidan with the sole aim of seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
This move certainly has security implications as more pro-Russian mobs obtain weapons to advance their agenda. On Saturday, several ammunitions were seized from pro-Russian mobs in Eastern Ukraine upon a tip off.
The security of new Ukraine was tested on Sunday when several pro-Russian protesters stormed government buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv.
Ukrainian authorities could do nothing, but to blame Moscow for instigating the separatist movement.
Maybe the opposition should have considered all the above mentioned prices before taken over the government Yanukovych.
But, as painful as these prices may be, it’s just an example of what fledgling democracies have to endure to become entrenched.