A country settled on the edge of the European Union and bordering Russia, Ukraine is struggling through a conflict starting shortly after a revolution toppled a presidency.
Hundreds of thousands gathered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in November 2013 over President Yanukovich’s decision to decline a free trade and association deal with the European Union to instead opt for closer ties with Russia.
The revolution has since brought upon the country’s current political crisis with an ever present growing divide over who Ukraine should align with, as the country is fittingly placed between both the EU and Russia.
President Yanukovich was toppled in February of 2014 days after a
Ukraine’s physical footing on the globe has long plagued and influenced the nation’s politics for decades, being strategically placed with the European Union to the West and the Russian nation to the East. Formerly a part of the Soviet Republic (and now Russia), it gained its independence in the year of 1991.
The protest movement starting on 24 November 2013 were proclaimed to be the largest since the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. As part of the Color Revolutions in the 2000’s, the Orange Revolution stood for the country’s opposition which supported Viktor Yushchenko’s political campaign which had the color orange as part of it.
Just over ten years of gaining independence from the Soviet Republic, an election year heated up national politics. Then Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, with a cabinet politically close to Russia but open to EU membership, ran for presidency in the 2004 election against Viktor Yushchenko. The poll results of Yanukovich winning were debated as rigged by the Orange Revolution.
A wave of Orange Revolution occupations and mass demonstrations in Kiev’s Maidan and across Ukraine’s east had eventually expanded into unrest involving police and pro-Yanukovich groups. The Supreme Court of Ukraine then annulled the election results, leading to a run-off election where Yushchenko won. In the following 2012 election, Yanukovich ran again and became president.
The Independence Square, also known as Maidan, mass demonstration on 24 November jump-started a new revolution in Ukraine titled “Euromaidan.” The name essentially is a combination of the EU’s currency of the euro and the Maidan public space.
Since that day, the opposition grew in strength, solidifying its base by spreading occupations across the nation and trying to undermine the president’s power. Ukraine’s President Yanukovich has met with the opposition multiple times since November to no avail, insisting that the government will attempt to form an Ukrainian alliance with both the EU and Russia.
The act of police forces in Kiev storming the main anti-government protest camp set up on the Maidan on 18 February 2014 brought about the more recent developments after months of protests and occupations. After two days of deadly unrest and more than 80 people dead, an agreement with President Yanukovich and opposition leaders ruled for police forces to retreat, political prisoners to be released and an end to the unrest.
Shortly after the Maidan unrest ceased, the Ukraine parliament unanimously voted to impeach President Yanukovich and early elections have been scheduled for May of this year. However, the divide in pro-EU and pro-Russia relations have grown overtime. Pro-Russia populations in the East and in the peninsula region of Crimea have risen in protest of the new Kiev government. This comes along with Russian forces stationed in Ukrainian bases furthering their footing and influence, expressing a threat of war.
The Conflict Journal’s latest on Ukraine
[Photo Ivan Bandura/Flickr]