What ever happened to Ukraine?
- In December 2013 an Ukrainian government had abandoned plans to proceed with plans which would bring them closer to the EU.
- However, this was perceived by some, to some extent as caving into Russian pressure. There was a massive protest in Kiev and after fighting the protesters with tear gas and back and forth attacks between both parts which lasted a few days, the protesters broke into the city hall and declared a new government.
- By February what started up in Kiev broke down as riots all over the country. However, on the same month Pro Russian protests broke down in Crimea, arguably with some strong Russian ties. Within two weeks, after a referendum, Crimea declared itself a part of Russia.
- Next, the Pro-Russia protests expanded to Eastern Ukraine. From bricks and stones their weapons evolved to Kalashnikov and the Ukrainian government sent their army, but by the summer of 2014 war had broken down.
- In 2017 it would appear, by how forgotten it might seem by the media, that the issues had died down. However, a different picture is painted today. Multiple ceasefires have failed and pro Russian levels have appeared to gain significant ground and lines between both sides have moved closer and closer to each other.
Who are the winners?
- Multiple parties have claims that because of the complexity of the weaponry and the presence of Russian militia in different areas, it could be strongly pointed that Russia is directly funding and to an extent backing the rebels in the Eastern area, but does Russia really gain from a longstanding feud with Ukraine and what it’s Putin end game?
- Most would point out the possibility that Ukraine could become a member of NATO and of the European Union was something which concerned the Russian president.
- You could say that this has already been obtained by destabilising Ukraine.
- Could it be that Moscow underestimated how much the Ukraine would fight back and whether the rebels in East Ukraine would follow suit to what Moscow desires which would explain partly, at least from the side of Russia why the issue has taken a bit if a back bench on the media.
Can Ukraine win territories back?
- From the Ukrainian side of things the formation of a new government which aligned closer to the west and further from Russia, followed by the Annex of Crimea by Russia appear to drive Ukraine further apart from Russia in diplomatic terms.
- There has been some diplomacy involved along the lines of the conflict with very limited success via a Minsk agreements (ceasefire to all hostility, pullout of weaponry and returning Ukrainian control of the territories, and at the same time providing greater autonomy to separatist territories without going into too many specifics into what that autonomy will entail) and the Normandy talks (between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine which revolves around a higher level of political aspects and a broader understanding of what the future of Ukraine will hold) .
- Politics in Ukraine are mostly led by the President and Prime Minister. Over the course of the years the prime minister comes under fire from different sides seen as champion of austerity measures from the west and been involved with reforms which have dislikened in some way the more far right side of Ukraine who believe that too many concessions have been given to the separatists and from groups who believe that he has not been doing enough.
Ukraine and Russia: a complicated love story
After the Mongol Invasion of Rus, and possibly ever since then, Ukraine has served as a pawn for the development and growth or the backyard for some of me most horrible events perpetrated by the darker days of the Soviet Union. Still, a long time would pass before they destinies would diverge irreparably.
Absorbed and forcibly removed and relocated (along with most of the population by the hands of the Cosacks), it would take several centuries before Ukraine,and the Russian empire as a whole, would rid itself of multiple foreign European invasions,along with Persian, Turkish, and Crimean wars.
However, the Russian Empire considers Ukrainians a part of the Russian identity, it would become obvious that Ukrainian nationalism was alive by the First World War and the time of the Bolsheviks.
Already before then, as a counterattack from Russia to this “Ukrainian separatism”, in 1804, the Ukrainian language had been banned from schools, and this trend was later followed by ban of Ukrainian books until the end of the Russian Empire.
Not to undermine attempts to create a Ukrainian State, but the Russian Civil War saw everybody fighting based on their political opinions.
Enter Stalin, and his promotion of Russian nationalism and denying the existence of a Ukrainian identity which saw the beginning of one of the most gruesome episodes between 1932 and 1933, called the “Holomodor”, or basically a man-made famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic which killed over 7 million Ukrainians, arguably recognised by many as a form of genicide against Ukrainians.
Still, large partnerships between the countries had to form because many Soviet Western Europe oil and gas pipelines ran through Ukraine, and large debts by the Ukraine to Russia were paid off in the form of provision of nuclear weapons.
However, Russia might have seen Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO and the EU as a step away from Pro Russian sentiment which appears to have lifted a long life of feelings dug in the ground for decades by both parties.
Why does everybody want a piece of the Ukrainian pie?
- Ukraine is positioned strategically between Russia and Western Europe and serves as a natural buffer zone of defense between the areas, more to the advantage of Russia since the way to the industrial heart of the Russian economy does not offer many natural defensive borders, and has aided Napoleon and Hitler in the past to mount devastating invasions.
- In theory, at least, there is a faction of EU countries, led by Poland and Lithuania which share history with the Ukraine, and which continued to push for the agreement to be signed with Ukraine. Partly supporting their vision on fear of a more Russia-leaning Ukraine which could potentially be a threat to the EU borders (especially Poland).
There are natural and historical divisions between the territories which go from a more west leaning Western front to a more pro Russian faction of Eastern Ukraine, but this has all appeared to become more exacerbated and taken advantage of by Russia and the West in order to gain leverage over other political issues like the Russian sanctions and the conflict in Syria.