By the same token, treating Ukraine as a fragile state that will soon be brought to its knees by Putin's maneuvering distracts from the truth that however lacking it may be compared to its western neighbors, let alone western democracies, Ukraine continues to be better positioned to become more democratic and more stable than Russia in the mid-term. But it can only do that if the Ukrainian state's ability to enforce and insist on the rule of law in the economic sphere increases. In this light, the great question is what happens to RosUkrEnergo. If as Tymoshenko has called for RosUkrEnergo's role as transfer agent is curbed and the gas transfer becomes more transparent. If it continues to become the conduit then Ukraine will be held back, which will of course help Putin, because it will help keep Russians from asking the questions they might ask if they see a more transparent economic and political system emerge in Ukraine.
In short this dispute matters, but if European states would look beyond the immediate interests of needing energy, they will see that a deal at any price that allows RosUkrEnergo to continue to act as an intermediary will only insure that further crises will occur down the line. If they come out on the side of transparency, it will be a step towards providing greater energy security for all of Europe than any additional pipeline routes.