Ukraine needs the West to act swiftly
Not surprisingly, the Munich Security Conference last weekend saw heated debates on Ukraine and its current political crisis. Yet while government and opposition representatives faced off with their well-known positions, the real news was an apparent change of minds among Western leaders.
Thus, European Union Commissioner Stefan Fule stated that "if we are serious about helping this part of Europe to transform, the association agreement is only the first step," admitting in effect that only the EU's "most powerful instrument", membership, will help in the long-term.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton added that Europe and the U.S. are "developing a plan -- a Ukrainian Plan", whose numbers "won't be small", to provide urgently needed short-term funding to Ukraine's battered economy. And U.S Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that "nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine". Taken together, the three statements may signal a major shift in Western policy vis-a-vis Ukraine.
Joerg Forbrig is a program director and Eastern Europe expert with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.