Anne Applebaum (I have always enjoyed her columns and historical analysis) writes a must read in today's Washington Post comparing the Ukrainian election with 1946 Poland elections that solidified Soviet domination after a fraudulent election. Her key graph:
To the West, the democracies of Western and Central Europe will remain more or less stable members of the European Union and NATO. To the east, Russia will control the "managed democracies" of the former U.S.S.R., keeping the media muzzled, elections massaged and the economies in thrall to a handful of mostly Russian billionaires. Using primarily economic means -- control over oil pipelines, corrupt investment funds, shady companies -- the Russians may even, like their Soviet predecessors, begin to work at undermining Western stability.
I am not sure that I see Russia having a growing ability to thwart the West, but I think her concept of "Managed Democracies" is succinct. Allowing Russia to continue to increase its regional hegemon status will only continue to strangle Western investment and ultimately economic and political change for its former states.
Will there be a possibility of new (fair) elections? Maybe I am being too naive. The world is watching and the Ukrainians are in the streets. Let's pray for their sake and ours that freedom rings from Kiev.