MOSCOW – Five years into Ukraine's conflict with Russia, Moscow seems to have Ukraine pinned against the ropes. Ukraine's ambition of joining the EU and NATO is indefinitely stalled. It has no realistic way to reclaim control of Russian-annexed Crimea, or to end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the east.
It's no wonder a comedian is leading in the polls for Sunday's presidential election.
The Kremlin has long seen Ukraine's plan to join NATO as a threat that must be fended off at all costs, and its calculations that the conflict in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region would scuttle the nation's membership bid seems to have worked.
Both NATO and the EU have made it clear they are not going to put Ukraine on a track to membership any time soon.