/…/ The Europeans can help, too, both with technical assistance and by holding out the best inducement to reform they can offer: the prospect (however distant) of full EU membership. That idea will alarm some member states, not to mention their voters. They should see that incentivising democratic change in this pivotal country, and welcoming it to the European club if that is accomplished, is as much in their interests as Ukraine’s.
The EU and its allies should do all this because it is right, rather than to rile Vladimir Putin. All the same, Mr Putin will be outraged. Russia is already destabilising—perhaps even preparing to annex—the Crimea, a peninsula transferred to Soviet Ukraine in 1954. Pro-Russian gunmen seized administrative buildings there on February 27th. Even if Mr Putin restrains himself for now, he is sure to respond eventually: he nurtures grudges for years, and the Potemkin democracy he has engineered in Russia lets him stick around long enough to avenge them. He exorcised his grievance over the Kosovo war of 1999 by invading Georgia in 2008.