A rally at Independence Square in Kiev, March 2, 2014.
Konstantin Grishin / Courtesy Reuters

It’s been a turbulent few months in Ukraine. What began at a summit in Vilnius in November as part of the EU’s ongoing effort to create a Europe “whole and free” now looks increasingly like it could result in a Ukraine that is not whole and perhaps not free. As Ukraine has moved from peaceful demonstrations to lethal battles between police and protesters, and from President Victor Yanukovych’s ouster to Russia’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula, Ukrainians and outside observers alike talk openly of the country's collapse or descent into civil war.

Back in November, it all seemed so simple, or so the story goes. Many observers argued that the offer of the Association Agreement with the EU, which would boost Ukraine’s economic and cultural ties with Europe, presented the country with a simple choice: the path of modernization, liberalization, the rule of law, and

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  • KEITH DARDEN is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University.
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