Since the election of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine’s president in February 2010, the country has been drifting away from the democratic advances it had earlier achieved. The jailing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in August 2011 can be seen as the culmination of this regression, although it has not been its only outcome—there have been negative trends in freedom of the media and assembly, the independence of the judiciary, and economic management.
The European Union’s reaction to Ukraine’s slide is of critical importance as Ukrainian authorities have officially declared European integration to be their strategic objective. Significantly, the EU has diagnosed Kyiv’s negative trends accurately and unanimously (unlike with Russia a decade before). As European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso and EU High Representative on External Policy Catherine Ashton stated in a July 2012 interview, the EU does not view events in Ukraine as isolated incidents but as part of a systemic development. […]