BRUSSELS — Hardly anyone expects Ukraine to get better before it gets worse, or for the latest set of commitments in last month’s cease-fire agreement to be kept.
Instead, senior Western diplomats and analysts are predicting a further escalation of tensions, including the placing of Russian nuclear weapons in newly annexed Crimea; more unrest in cities like Mariupol and even Odessa; more advances by Russian-supported rebels against an under-gunned and dispirited Ukrainian Army; and attempts to destabilize the Western-leaning government in Kiev, beginning with President Petro O. Poroshenko.
Mr. Poroshenko, weakened by the loss of Crimea and a large, contiguous chunk of eastern Ukraine, faces Western demands for economic overhauls, increased energy prices and a crackdown on corruption to justify billions in loans and aid. He also confronts new challenges from oligarchs like Igor V. Kolomoisky over control of energy companies and private militias with flexible loyalties to the state, or what’s left of it.
The West, which claims to be united, is actually divided over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and how to respond.
Having hailed the revolution in Kiev as a defeat for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the United States and Europe are indeed united in one matter: refusing to defend Ukraine militarily.