In late January, four former U.S. ambassadors to the Ukraine penned an open letter in the New York Times. In it they asked the leaders of the West to stop Ukrainian president Yanukovych while restraining immoderate actions from the opposition. They wrote:

Ukraine is on the verge of spinning out of control. A pro-European protest that began more than two months ago in Kiev’s central square has flared into broad, angry opposition to the authoritarian policies of President Viktor F. Yanukovych. If the United States and European Union wish to encourage a peaceful resolution, they must use their leverage now. Otherwise the situation could degenerate further, to the point where the West will be no more than a spectator.

The first days of February saw John Kerry meeting with Ukranian oppositionists to express their support. At about the same time the Obama administration began to negotiate with Congress on the possibility of imposing sanctions on the Ukraine in order to pressure that government “in response to the bloodshed touched off by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to rebuff a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union.”

Two days ago the US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, announced his resignation. His departure was widely regarded as signalling the failure of the “reset” policy which he advocated. The Post wrote:

McFaul never wavered in his defense of the “reset” despite the increasingly rocky trail of U.S.-Russian relations in recent years. In a blog post titled “It’s Time, My Friend, It’s Time,” written in Russian and English, which he said would be his last as ambassador, he listed what he argued were the reset’s accomplishments.

Among them were the New START accord limiting nuclear arms, the opening of the Northern Distribution Network allowing the United States to send supplies to its troops in Afghanistan by way of Russia, cooperation on Iran and North Korea, and Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization — which Washington wanted on the grounds that it requires Russia to commit to international trade rules.