Transatlantic Relations Program Senior Fellow Adrian Karatnycky writes in the New York Times on Sunday’s elections in Ukraine:
A few short weeks ago the Kiev I visited was awash in talk of terrorist plots and civil war.
The lightning-quick annexation of Crimea by Russian troops had created much anxiety. People feared that the commemoration of May 9, the day on which Ukraine and Russia celebrate the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, would encourage pro-Moscow insurgents to seize government buildings beyond their strongholds in eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of well-armed and well-trained men, many with links to Russia, had already moved into hard-scrabble industrial cities near the Russian border. There had been violent clashes between Ukrainian patriots and pro-Russian separatists in Odessa, in the south.
The mood today is markedly different. Voters throughout Ukraine will go to the polls for the presidential election on Sunday amid clear signs that major unrest is abating and that President Vladimir V. Putin is backing away from his gambit to annex more Ukrainian territory.