Europe

Ukraine crisis: Press mulls next EU and Russian moves

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Image caption Ukraine's Segodnya asks "What will the new Ukraine be like?"

The Ukrainian press appears shocked at the remarkable defeat of the vanished ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. Even some papers that formerly supported him now agree that he is finished.

European dailies worry about Ukraine's instability causing a financial crisis which the EU would have an obligation to fix.

And in Russia, papers say the defeat of Yanukovych is a reality check for President Putin, who they see as outmanoeuvred. But they point toward cultural similarities in Ukraine and Russia as a basis for building a new relationship.

'Useless person'

Elements of the Ukrainian press are lining up to demonise the ousted president.

At least one paper has changed its editorial line. Segodnya tabloid, which used to support President Yanukovych, now calls him "the most useless person on earth".

"Viktor Yanukovych has been toppled. It has been the wildest dream of the protesters," the paper says. "He made lots of mistakes. He cheated both his voters and opponents, Russia, Europe, oligarchs and the working class. Cheated trust is the deadliest sin," it says.

Kommersant Ukraine, the Ukrainian edition of Russian business daily, marvels that over the weekend, "Viktor Yanukovych took a journey from the legitimate president recognised by the international community to an outcast deprived of support from his political party and closest ally."

'Crater in the heart of Europe'

Bernardo Valli in Italy's La Repubblica expresses trepidation at the instability in Ukraine.

"The idea of secession in Ukraine is not only embarrassing but frightening", he writes. "In the East and in the West; it would be a wide-open crater in the heart of Europe."

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Image caption Italy's La Repubblica highlights fears of a split in Ukraine

Stefan Kornelius writes in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the EU is now facing an "obligation" towards Ukraine. "It was the EU's promise of freedom which led people in Ukraine to hope for a better future. The EU stands for the rule of law, for life without corruption and the rule of oligarchs. On the Maidan, the EU has inherited a huge development project."

A commentator in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agrees, saying that "first and foremost there is an urgent need for immediate economic and financial aid."

"The EU must not again look on as the country becomes the helpless subject of Russian scheming and the see-saw policies of its own kleptomaniac leadership," commentator Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger writes.

French commentator Francois Sergent says the crisis in Ukraine is not over. "We can only be pleased about the departure of President Yanukovych, a brutal and corrupt autocrat. But Ukraine remains a failed state, which lacks unity and an identity," he says in Liberation.

An editorial by Francois Ernenwein in La Croix says, "Ukraine's future remains to be invented". He says that the violence of the repression gave weight to the most hard-line faction in the opposition camp, and there is "nothing to suggest that the ultranationalists will easily fall into line".

Moscow's 'blunders'

The influential business Russian daily Kommersant warns that "the longer the period when groups of militiamen replace the police and pass their revolutionary laws lasts, the deeper the economic crisis will be and the closer the threat of a default will be".

In the popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, Andrey Baranov says there is no one in the current Ukrainian political landscape who is a unifying figure. He predicts a period in which those who gain power will "bite both their foes and each other" and that the most "cunning and unprincipled one will get the support of the West."

Moscow will have to accept the political changes in Ukraine and adjust its policy towards the neighbouring country, Russian newspapers say.

An editorial in the business daily Vedomosti says that Moscow realised that the failure of Yanukovych and people surrounding him is largely a result of its blunders.

"The question is what conclusions the Kremlin and Russian society will draw. It is important to understand that the aspiration to play with contradictions between the regions or attempts to take eastern regions and the Crimea under the Russian protectorate would have a negative effect on the international elections and are ineffective economically."

However, Moscow could use the status of the Russian language in Russian-speaking parts of the Ukraine as a point of negotiation, Vedomosti says.

"Moscow can and should insist on Kiev following the European charter of regional languages and languages of ethnic minorities and demand that the rights of compatriots be observed."

Moskovskiy Komsomolets praises Russia's stance on the Ukrainian crisis and calls for the continuation of the similar course.

In an article by Mikhail Rostovskiy headlined "Never mind that Yanukovych falls," he says "politicians of the Yanukovych type come and go, but Russia and Ukraine remain the closest neighbours" because of their common past and language. He says Russia was "outplayed" in the Ukraine, but a careful policy in future would limit its geopolitical loss.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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