"The Orange Revolution alliance quarreled so much, it didn't have the sort of inner dynamism to create a government of its own," says Eugeniusz Smolar of the Warsaw-based Center for International Relations, who said he watched the months of haggling with a mixture of "sympathy and horror."
The fighting, he says, "destroyed, on the one hand, the cohesion -- and, on the other hand, some of the support -- of the population toward the government."
Some analysts and politicians suggest the West could have done more to support pro-European forces in Ukraine by expediting the country's bid to join Western institutions like the World Trade Organization, the European Union, and NATO.
Brussels, which acknowledges expansion fatigue, has been firm in its refusal to bolster Ukraine's hopes of membership. But U.S. President Bush on April 10 signed legislation backing NATO membership for five countries, including Ukraine.
The fact remains, however, that Ukraine's eastern regions remain largely loyal to Russia, which adamantly opposes NATO expansion. As a result, Ukraine itself is deeply divided over whether it wants to join the EU or NATO. Some polls have indicated that most Ukrainians would reject membership in either if the issue was put to a referendum.
"There is a quite a large group of public opinion in Ukraine that is not terribly interested in joining the European Union, understanding that it has an important economic, social, and cultural interest in staying close to Russia," Smolar says.
So did the West fail, or Ukraine? "It's a complex situation," Smolar continues. "I believe that the Ukrainian public and the Ukrainian elite didn't do enough. Whether the West could do more... I believe it could do more, but I am not sure it could do much more."
Ukraine's inconstancy regarding the West may prove an inconvenience elsewhere in the former Soviet Union -- particularly in Georgia, whose NATO bid also got U.S. President Bush's blessing this week.
Georgia kicked off the wave of colored revolutions with its 2003 Rose Revolution, and President Mikheil Saakashvili has traditionally kept close ties with Yushchenko. But Legvold at Columbia University says Georgia's own Western ambitions may be hampered by the ongoing Ukrainian stalemate.
"I don't see any prospect that Georgia can be considered for NATO membership -- even if it seems in some fashion more qualified -- until the Ukrainian issue is settled," he says. "You can't jump over Ukraine and address the Georgian question separately."
Ultimately, U.S. and EU support for Yushchenko and Ukraine's pro-Western forces may also be muted because the current composition of the Ukrainian government is the product of elections that were universally judged to be among the fairest and cleanest in post-Soviet Ukraine.
The Orange Revolution had a clear villain in Yanukovych, whose backers blatantly falsified election results. This time around, he is the legitimate head of government and leads the most popular party in the country.
Marek Siwiec, deputy chairman of the European Parliament, said on April 11 that Yushchenko can no longer expect the unequivocal Western support he enjoyed in 2004.
"All parties have a legal democratic mandate now," Siwiec said. And that makes a "huge difference."
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