After the turmoil of the Maidan protests, the removal of President Yanukovich and the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Ukraine is undergoing profound political changes and is facing difficult challenges. Identity issues and regional dynamics in Ukraine are at the heart of its domestic politics as well as its geopolitical orientation. Although many ethno-linguistic stereotypes often cited in the media do not withstand scrutiny, Ukraine is indeed diverse and pluralistic. This is both good and bad news for its future. The Maidan protests contributed greatly to forging a unifying state-building agenda for Ukraine. If this agenda prevails in the post-revolutionary phase, the inherent pluralism and diversity of the Ukrainian society will be the best safeguard against the centralisation of power by another autocrat. At the same time, a worrying rise of nationalistic discourses and actors as well as tensions in some regions of Ukraine may undermine the newly found sense of unity. A fractured Ukraine is also less likely to remain on the path of further democratic reform.
Kateryna Pishchikova is visiting scholar at the Cornell University, Institute for European Studies, USA, and associate fellow at FRIDE, a think tank based in Madrid and Brussels.