President John F. Kennedy memorably called the Cold War a “long, twilight struggle’’ — the four-decade contest in Europe for freedom and power between the United States and Soviet Union. Last week’s dramatic revolution in Ukraine was compelling evidence that Cold War passions continue to burn in a country deeply divided between East and West.
It is too early to predict where these momentous events will carry the people of Ukraine. The new interim government, dominated by nationalists from the central and western parts of Ukraine, acted swiftly to set presidential elections in May and seek greater economic and political ties with Europe. But in the industrialized country’s east and south, millions of ethnic Russians want to maintain Ukraine’s centuries-old symbiotic cultural, linguistic, and economic links to Russia.