As things now stand, Obama won. EU partners won. Fascist extremists won. Russia lost.
So did ordinary Ukrainians. Months of struggling for something better apparently turned out in vain.
Events remain fast-moving. Overnight negotiations produced an early Friday morning deal.
Talks lasted eight hours. Opposition leaders Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok and Vitali Klitschko were involved.
So were Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian Human Rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions called on "everyone involved in the confrontation to lay down their arms."
"This deed will be your greatest contribution to Ukraine's future," it said. "We should all consolidate around the common goal of restoring peaceful life on our soil."
"We should stop this fratricidal war for the sake of peace, for the sake of justice and for the sake of Ukraine's future."
On Thursday, Ukraine's parliament passed a resolution near unanimously. It condemned the use of force against protesters.
It prohibits Ukrainian Security Council counterterrorism. Yanukovych expressed willingness to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.
He's amenable to constitutional change before summer. He's willing to form a national unity government in days.
In a Friday national address, he said:
"I am announcing steps needed to restore peace and avoid further victims of the standoff."
"There are no steps we should demur from taking together in order to restore peace to Ukraine."
His web site said "I declare the initiation of early presidential elections. I also invoke a return to the Constitution of 2004 with the redistribution of powers in the direction of a parliamentary republic."
"I summon to begin formation of the government of national trust."
His comments sounded more like unconditional surrender. If so, it's bad news for most Ukrainians.
It likely means new pro-Western government. Spurning EU membership last November let him dodge a bullet.
He did the right thing. EU countries covet Eastern expansion. Doing so adversely affects Russia.
It's disastrous for vulnerable populations like Ukraine's. EU membership involves harsh neoliberal austerity.
Financial demands include mass layoffs, deregulation, deep social spending cuts, wage freezes or cuts, unrestricted free market access for Western corporations, corporate friendly tax cuts, marginalized trade unionism, and harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers.
Ukraine will be pushed to join NATO. Doing so encroaches further on Russia's borders. It makes future confrontations more likely.
Ukrainians were manipulated against their own self-interest for months. They've been through this before. They ended up losers.
Promises made were broken. Exploitation followed. They should have known better. Once deceived should be enough. EU membership assures harder than ever hard times.
Poland's Sikorski said progress was made "but important differences remain." A statement released said the peace deal would be formally signed at noon Friday Kiev time. No further details were given.
An unnamed EU diplomat called it a "temporary agreement." The devil is more than in the details.
It resides in Washington. Obama wants regime change. He orchestrated violence to achieve it.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said "we cannot say anything definitive before the end of the morning."
"The opposition…wants to be able to consult with some of its members..."
"In this sort of situation, as long as things haven't really been wrapped up, it's important to remain very cautious."
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said an agreement hadn't been reached - "only the content of an eventual agreement, since the proper subjects to build such an agreement are people."
Reuters quoted opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko saying: "We will sign the deal. We are prepared to do everything to obtain a peaceful solution."
"All arguments must be considered before it comes to a signature," he added.
Voice of Russia said Moscow's ombudsman Lukin "refused to sign the final document."
On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin met with Security Council members to discuss ongoing events.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a toughly-worded statement. He aimed it at Yanukovych, saying:
"We shall, of course, continue cooperating with our Ukrainian partners in all areas that have been agreed."
"We shall bend every effort to honor the pledges we have taken with regard to Ukraine."
"But for this to happen, our partners should be in good shape. Ukraine's authorities should be legitimate and effective and should not allow anyone to walk all over them."
Veronica Krasheninnikova heads the Russian Institute for Foreign Policy Studies. Opposition leaders Yatsenyuk, Tyagnibok and Klitschko by no means represent most Ukrainians, she said.
Yanukovych lost credibility by surrendering to their demands, she added. He's "part of the problem," she stressed.
He "opted out of the use of the mechanisms that he's been invested with by the constitution."
He failed to "tak(e) required measures to preserve the constitutional system, which is his presidential duty."
On Friday, thousands of protesters remained in Kiev's Independence Square. Violence continues. Ukraine's Interior Ministry said:
"Rioters opened fire at police officers and tried to break through in the direction of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament)."
Reuters quoted one protester calling the deal "just another piece of paper. We will not leave the barricades until Yanukovych steps down."
Ukraine's Health Ministry said at least 77 people died since Tuesday. Dead bodies remain on Kiev streets.
Accurate death and injury counts are hard to come by. Calm may not be easy to restore.
Events so far very much benefit Washington and EU partners. They disadvantage Russia. Days earlier, Putin offered to buy $2 billion worth of Ukrainian eurobonds straightaway.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said it's part of the $15 billion loan agreed on earlier. On Friday, doing so remains undecided in the wake of ongoing events.
Russia is very much concerned about possible new pro-Western Ukrainian government if new elections are held.
It wants clarity before committing cash. The advantage it gained earlier looks lost. It's a huge setback.
How Moscow reacts remains to be seen. Expect ordinary Ukrainians to awaken too late to realize they've been had again.
They endured plenty for something better. Opposition leaders duped them to expect it.
They deserve better than they got. As things now stand, they lost out entirely. Harder than ever hard times await them.
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|William John Cox|