Walter Russel Mead, whose opinions I frequently (but not always) share, offers an interesting take on the events in Maidan Square.
What is ultimately at stake is whether Ukraine become a Western-oriented, European nation or whether it is pulled by the dictator Putin back into a reconstituted Russian Empire. The stakes in this contest are high, both for the future freedom of the Ukrainian people and for the future of liberal democracy.
The collapse of the Soviet Empire in eastern Europe in 1989, followed on January 1, 1992 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, were historic turning points in post-1945 European history. From the early post-War years, the American Establishment and the leadership of both political parties supported a foreign policy consensus based on containment of Communism and support for European integration. The conflagration in the Ukraine, while it had a long history, was sparked when the government of the pro-Russian stooge Yanukovych broke off negotiations for a trade agreement with the European Union and entered into an agreement of Putin that a huge Russian aid package. If the agreement stands, Ukraine is lost to the West.
The stakes are high.