Many years ago, in the now-famous Stanford marshmallow experiment, children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (Oreo cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table, by a chair. The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.
Years later the experiment revealed a strong correlation between a children's capacity for deferred gratification and their success in later life.
As Oleksandr Motyl points out, president Yanukovych could have waited for EU association and free-trade agreements to be signed late this year before 'setting the dogs' onto Tymoshenko. She posed no threat to the president, and the country's organs of power were all under his firm grip.
He would have basked in the glory of successfully signed agreements, and the future would have looked rosy. There would have been plenty of time to 'deal with' the Tymoshenko problem if there were to be any sign of uplift in her ratings.
Playing off the EU against Russia in order to obtain the best possible result for his country makes some kind of sense, but why mess all of this up with the Tymoshenko trial and sentencing?
The man couldn't wait to gobble up the fluffy marshmallow..