The real challenge for Ukraine begins now

People gather to commemorate the victims of the recent clashes in Kiev. Photo: REUTERS/Yevgeny Volokin

So, where does Ukraine go from here?

Take note those who remember the joyous scenes from Baghdad post Saddam and Libya post Gaddafi.

Enjoy the tranquility of Yanukovych’s palace and streets free of violence and security. Because after the dreadful battles and loss, the real challenge for Ukraine begins now.

Which way will this country go? It’s a little bit simplistic to say the west of Ukraine favours the EU while the east seeks the mighty bear hug of Russia, but it’s not that far from the reality.

An anti-Yanukovich protester burns flags of the Party of Regions in Kiev. Credit: REUTERS/Aleksey Chernyshov

Politicians from Kiev and the west of the country stand by their vote to remove the president and instigate new elections, meanwhile those in the south and east refuse to recognise the authority of those now running parliament and the country.

There is talk of Crimea splitting off towards Russia and possibly other parts of the east.

Be in no doubt much of this talk comes from fear. Native Russians living in Ukraine fear that nationalism will become the unpleasant consequence of the freedoms so sought and at that point their lives change considerably.

You don't need to be here long to feel the difference between the east and west - here locals have been throwing coins at journalists accusing them of taking foreign money to destroy the government.

Supporters attend a pro-Yanukovich rally in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk. Credit: REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

And go to Yanukovych's home town near Donetsk and there's not a bad word being said about their former leader.

But remember too that at the heart of many of the future decisions is money - and the east has it.

Industrially strong, many of Ukraine’s big businessmen and women have made their fortunes there and continue to do so.

Whilst what’s happening in the west of the country may be unpalatable there is still the eye on the EU and the markets closer ties open to them.

Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich gives a wink to Vladimir Putin in December last year. Credit: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

There is no doubt the shift in Ukraine is a damaging moment for Russia’s Vladimir Putin, that it comes as the Sochi Games end can only add to his ire.

He may never have found Viktor Yanukovych a particularly engaging character but he has courted him, seeking to bring Ukraine closer into his fold.

His Eurasian economic and customs union needs Ukraine to survive and without it will never be the rival to the EU markets he dreams of.

But this is not quite what the EU expected either. When Yanukovych refused to sign their association agreement - a trade deal which would require certain democratic standards from Ukraine - those in Brussels certainly didn’t expect it to spark revolution with thousands out on the streets demanding the democratic rights a move towards the EU would offer.

Vitali Klitschko is likely to stand for Ukraine president. Credit: REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Clearly Ukraine moving towards the West away from Putin’s grip would be welcomed but no one is in a position to bring this country of 45 million, with it’s poverty and lack of development, too much into the fold.

Support yes, but a move to membership not for many, many years.

And then you look at the internal politics - who now to lead this leaderless country? Those opposition leaders who have negotiated - Klitschko, Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko - rode the wave of protest, they never really led it.

There is frustration that no one became the figurehead those in Maidan (Independence Square) sought and an anger too they were willing to negotiate with Yanukovych.

Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison yesterday. Credit: REUTERS/Alexander Prokopenko/Pool

The newly-freed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been released to a degree of sentimental affection but she too has her issues - not least a strong whiff of the corruption those on the streets have sought to banish.

Yet it may be that she once again becomes the country’s future - even in the short term.

A candidate acceptable to Russia - Putin always said she was a woman he could do business with, acceptable to the EU - who demanded her release and acceptable to the people who believe they now deserve a country free from the shackles of its past with the right to a democratic future, free of politicians who seek only to serve themselves.