Crisis in Crimea

Destruction in the streets of Kiev. Picture from Newsweek

Over the last few months the United States has gotten involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There have been sanctions put on Russia by the European Union and the US. According to the New York Times, in March 2014 congress approved for $1 billion in aid to be sent over to Ukraine. The United States has been proactive in the protection of Ukraine, but what is really going on and why is it so important?  

Back in the day, Ukraine was a Soviet satellite state. It became known as an independent nation in 1991, and since then has been ruled as a constitutional republic. Over the years Ukraine has been asked to join the European Union. The European Union is a partnership with 28 countries that work together to make laws and share the same monetary system. There has been a loud cry of opposition in eastern Ukraine about joining the EU and having the west expand to Ukraine. 

In February 2014 Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was forced out of power by the Ukrainian parliament. The president, Vladimir Putin saw this as a threat to Russian speaking people in Ukraine, having anti-Russian people in power. Crimea has come into play in the last few months because of the Russian military occupation. Crimea is located in eastern Ukraine and has a population of 60 percent Russian. 

Some people in Crimea see themselves as Russians and think they should be apart of Russia. Russia thinks they have a claim to Crimea because of all the Russian speaking people. That’s where the conflict comes in. Do the people of Crimea really want to be part of Russia or are they being bullied by their looming neighbors to say so?

The fact of the matter is that people dying in eastern Europe. The Russian supporting rebels are fighting the Ukrainian military for control. We are seeing careless casualties like the Malaysia Airlines flight that was mistaken for a Ukrainian plane that killed all 295 people aboard the plane.

The big picture points to Russia and its issues. Putin doesn’t want to see the West expanding to Russia’s former territory. According to CNN lawmakers believe that Putin wants to control Ukraine in an attempt to reestablish a new version of the former Soviet Union, which may be an even bigger international problem. 

As an American I care what kind of conflicts our government gets into. It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in Ukraine and Russia for a lot of reasons:

  • It affects the trade we do with different countries. (We have sanctions on Russia at the moment)
  • It affects government spending. (We spent $1 billion on aid)
  • It affects international relations. (Russia isn’t our biggest fan)

More importantly we’ve always been told that history repeats itself. We need to pay attention to this kind of conflict because we could be faced with a similar situation in the future. We need to know what works and what doesn’t. It’s going to be the people of my generation who will have the power to make or break this country in the near future. I share my knowledge as a political science student in hopes that it inspires someone to want to know what’s going on because the bloodshed going on in Ukraine is for real. 

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