What Is Going On In Ukraine?

Headlines everywhere read about the Ukraine Crisis, but with all of this flooding information, it is hard to keep up. Every day something new happens relating to Ukraine and its small region of Crimea attempting to secede and join Russia. With possible war being mentioned, you might be really confused and worried by this current event. This is a time where people everywhere should be familiarizing themselves with the history being made in their lifetime, so to help, Her Campus Point Park has constructed a summary of events collected from news sources such as BBC News, Reuters, and AlJazeera to help you understand:

Russia annexed Crimea in 1783 and has been the dominant power for the majority of the past 200 years. However, Moscow transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. While Crimea is part of Ukraine, it is an autonomous republic with the ability to elect its own parliament and is primarily Russian-speaking. Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovych, has been ousted, or driven out by pro-Western and nationalist protesters—following which Crimea elected a pro-Russian prime minister and put forth a referendum, or national vote, to decide whether Crimea should secede from Ukraine and join Russia or remain a part of the Ukraine. Many believe the new government in Kiev consists of “extremists” that are endangering the lives of Crimeans as well as their right to speak the Russian language.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the deployment of Russian troops into Crimea as well as all of the Ukraine. Moscow has the ability to send troops in to “protect” ethnic Russians in Ukraine. The Crimean peninsula was subjected to a military takeover a couple of weeks ago. Due to rushed military operations, Russia and the West stand in a crisis that resembles much of the Cold War.

The city of Donetsk in Ukraine has been host to many protests and riots between far-right anti-war extremists and pro-Russian protestors demonstrating against “the destructive position of the people calling themselves Ukrainian authorities”. These riots have resulted in the death of one citizen as well as multiple others injured and being treated in hospitals. While Moscow denies that they have forces intervening in Crimea, journalists and reporters have seen Russian forces operating openly by the thousands. According to the White House’s statement on Ukraine and Crimea’s referendum, “In addition, Ukraine, the United States, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, and others have called for Russia to allow international monitors into the Crimean peninsula to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being upheld.  Russia has spurned those calls as well as outreach from the Ukrainian government and instead has escalated its military intervention into Crimea and initiated threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s eastern border”.

Kiev has announced plans to arm and train 20,000 members of a newly created National Guard. This is in response to the build-up of forces in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula as it is seen as a “crude violation” of an international treaty.

President Obama and Putin spoke over the phone and have come to an agreement that there is a need to cooperate to stabilize Ukraine. Putin also spoke of his worry about the Ukrainian government’s failure to stop violence against Russian-speaking civilians. According to the Kremlin, Putin drew attention to what seems as though the Ukrainian government’s inability or unwillingness to take action.

President Obama still believes there is a diplomatic solution to this crisis, as Ukraine is taking more solid steps to reforming government especially with its elections coming up this spring.

Western powers, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), do not support the referendum or the Crimea takeover. The United States has approved sanctions against a list of about 150 Russian officials. They, as well as many other countries including France and the UK, have announced that they will not recognize the outcome of the referendum, as it violates international law and the Ukrainian constitution and occurred under Russian military intervention. Putin defends the referendum saying it does in fact comply with international law because the outcome is respected as the choice of the Crimean people. This coincides with Article 1 of the U.N. Charter that states that the principle of self-determination of peoples. As of March 16, 2014 the referendum has resulted with a stark favor of Crimea seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia with a vote of over 90 percent.

A Reuters article published on March 16, 2014 states, “In Kiev, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk threatened dire consequences for the Crimean politicians who had called the vote, saying separatist ‘ringleaders’ wanted to destroy Ukrainian independence ‘under the cover of Russian troops’”. Yatseniuk is determined to find all of those leaders and bring them to justice in Ukrainian and international courts.

Keep checking back to news sources like Reuters and AlJazeera America for trustworthy updates.

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