Putin has realized that the expansionist project overextended itself; it is now too dangerous to continue beating the war drum. Or perhaps the Russian president simply lost interest in Novorossiya. He has a different game to play now—that of Russia’s “pivot to the East.”
Ukrainian society—particularly sectors that pushed for greater accountability and transparency during the EuroMaidan Revolution—and Western governments, particularly the United States, are pushing Poroshenko to rein in the oligarchs.
The conflict in Ukraine is anything but frozen. The dynamics of this conflict are driven as much by Ukrainian domestic affairs and local commanders’ decisions in the conflict zone as they are by any Cold War-style stand-off between East and West.
Old totalitarian practices can reemerge with new symbols, from new directions. And a struggle against the symbols of past unfreedom isn’t enough to protect against a lack of liberty in its latest incarnation.