At this stage it is perhaps understating the facts to suggest that Ukraine is on the edge of collapse. Months of turmoil between anti-government protestors and the police force came to a head on the 18th of February resulting in Ukraine’s most violent week in decades. With gunshot fired by protestors and with the Ukrainian riot police being deployed by the government to clear Independence Square. The upshot of the escalation of events has been the deposition of President Viktor Yanukovych on February the 22nd as well as on-going conflict over the internal Ukrainian state and a struggle between Western and Russian political powers to dictate the future of the Ukrainian government.
The protests began after a decision by Yanukovych in November 2013 to reject an agreement with the European Union in favour of a stronger bond with Russia. Following the decision, protestors who had been hoping for a union with the EU poured into Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to stage a protest against what they saw as the wrong political choice motivated by personal greed and Yanukoych’s own ties with the government in Moscow. The protesting group had consistently occupied Independence Square until the violence broke out last month. Several developments in the conflict – ranging from police attacks to opposition abductions – have led the already irate anti-government groups to believe that, rather than being any issue of political significance, the conflict has become about the deposed President clinging to whatever power he has left.
In the time since the riots and clashes between protestors and the police force an interim government, led by now Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and is to include members of the erstwhile protesting groups. The United States government has offered up to one billion dollars to Ukraine’s struggling economy and the ex-president, Yanukovych has been put on the international wanted list with the accusation being responsible for the deaths of more than 100 protestors at the hands of riot police. Secretary of State, John Kerry, responsible for the offer of loan to the Ukrainian government, has also warned Russia that it would be a ‘grave mistake’ to embark on any military intervention. New Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has told the press that his government would be forced to take some ‘unpopular steps’ in order to save a country in a ‘desperate financial plight’.
…the conflict has become about the deposed President clinging to whatever power he has left…
Since November of last year, Ukraine has been a country on the edge; in the last weeks, and certainly last month, it tipped over. An outbreak of violence and a clear political message had resulted in one deposed government and now a new one with a long journey ahead of it – outside dictations and motivations and internal struggles are sure to continue for some time to come, but for now all we can hope is that, in the deposition of Yanukoych, the Ukrainian population might find some sense of peace. Although we can be sure that conflicts will not have abated overnight, we can hope that the worst is in the past. Above all else we can assume though that the outcome of the Ukrainian riots, in the international sense, will be based upon whether the new government is able to re-establish their contact with the European Union.
Beginning last year these riots have, in effect, been based upon global political power – a country of 45 million strong, Ukraine could be an important ally to whichever nation were to win its favour and in their offerings we have seen the US vying for the country’s favour. As the smoke clears from Independence Square we should perhaps hope most of all that neither Russia nor the US, nor the EU feels the need to test any one of the others.
…Ukraine has been a country on the edge…
In very recent news it has emerged that Russian forces have begun to deploy in the Crimea in what Ukraine’s interim government have declared a declaration of war. The issue here is, as mentioned briefly above, the US have already pledged themselves against Russia in the event of any military action. Given the history that the two nations share there might not really be any doubt that there will be some development, on some level at least. However, with a little luck it will be nothing more than posturing – political arm flexing and declarations going one way or the other.
At the time of writing nothing has escalated, but there is the possibility that by the time this article has been put up, one side or the other has made another move toward winning the favour of the new Ukrainian state. So perhaps this will be a very different article when read in a weeks’ time, or perhaps not. The Ukrainian people reached their breaking point and stood up against a man that they saw as a tyrant. Let us just hope that the wisdom of that decision is proved and lasting, let us hope that when reading this article in March, the new Prime Minister and his interim government have made the first steps towards forming a Ukraine that can stand proud as a nation in peace and dignity.