Ukraine, a nation of 45 million people stuck between Europe and Russia’s southwestern border, is undergoing a dramatic collapse of its government in recent days which is subsequent to months of political chaos and social turbulence. Demonstrators have been gathering against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, which have unfortunately been followed by bloody street protests that left dozens dead and hundreds injured.
So, what urged the Ukrainian people to protest against their own government?
Protesters had been fighting in opposition to President Yanukovych’s constant rejection to sign a political and economic association pact with the EU after pressure from Russia. The Ukrainian government had been trying to establish a landmark trade deal with the European Union for years. In an unexpected change of heart, Yanukovych withdrew last November. It was ultimately acknowledged that Russian force led to the turn around.
This specific deal was immensely important to the Ukrainian people. The deal would have made tremendous changes for Ukraine citizens such as allowing them to travel through the EU without visas; in return Ukraine would implement numerous laws and regulations, and a program of extensive reforms. To activists, the option connecting Russia or Europe is a sign of the plans for the prospect of Ukraine. Given that this deal is so important to the Ukrainian people, why wouldn’t the President want to sign it? It is believed he wouldn’t do so due to the reason that pressure from Russia on Ukraine can be severe and makes economic demands on an already stressed economy. Prior to this, there have been cases where the Kremlin have cut off gas exports into the country and prohibited Ukrainian goods in Russia.
Ukraine has undergone an intensifying split, with individuals in the west commonly wanting to create stronger ties with their European neighbors and support the provisional government and its European Union tip; many are Roman Catholic and speak Ukrainian. In contrast, industrial workers in the eastern half prefer a Ukraine where Russia spreads a long shadow. Thus, making Ukraine a political and economic battleground for influence from both the EU and Russia. There are a few things at stake for the EU and Russia. Containing Ukraine as a clear political ally is vital for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mission to incorporate and salvage power over ex-Soviet states. Furthermore, Ukraine has been a significant target for an EU program intended to encourage democratic transformation in the region in return for free-trade agreements.
Viktor Yanukovych left the capital, Kiev, on late February, and protesters took control of the city center. After he left and vowed to never resign, parliament voted to remove Yanukovych of authority for failing in his presidential duties and set new presidential elections for May 25. Meanwhile, Ukraine opposition leader, former Prime Minister, and Yanukovych’s main political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison. Mr. Yanukovych has vowed to remain in power and is telling supporters “the dictatorship has fallen” and confirming she will run for president in the upcoming election.
More information on Yulia Tymoshenko: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/23/world/europe/ukraine-yulia-tymoshenko-profile/
Now, how has the Obama administration reacted to this? Senior White House officials state they are looking at a large range of probable economic and diplomatic measures to present to Obama that would demonstrate to Putin there are consequences to his proceedings in Ukraine. The White House has previously announced the United States will delay partaking in preparatory meetings for the G-8 Summit that will bring world leaders together in June in Sochi, Russia. “Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation,” according to a statement by the administration.
What do YOU think the ultimate fate of Ukraine is?