So your twitter and news feed have been taken over by the Ukraine. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s the background?
— The Ukraine is a country of 45 million people sandwiched between Europe and Russia.
— It was part of the USSR and gained independence when the USSR dissolved in 1991, and the country is split between those who sympathize with Russia and those who sympathize with Europe.
— The struggle in the Ukraine is a piece of the large power struggle between Russia and Western nations.
What’s been going on recently?
— In late November, the Ukrainian government walked away from a trade agreement with the European Union and instead aligned itself more closely with Russia.
— The following Sunday, tens of thousands of protestors who support closer ties with Europe marched to Independence Square in the capitol city of Kiev.
— Protests have been ongoing for three months, and recently became violent. At least 77 people have been killed and as many as 577 people have been wounded.
The President, Viktor F. Yanukovych, has just agreed to early elections and constitutional changes reducing the power of the president in peace talks with the protestors.
Protestors have had mixed reactions, some celebrating and others are skeptical that the president will keep his word.
Why We Care
Our generation has come of age during a wave of international protests and revolutions, and violence in the Ukraine could spread to neighboring countries, affecting our allies and forcing the US to intervene.
People should always have the right to protest peacefully against their government. Hopefully, the recent truce and compromise has marked an end to the violence and the beginning of a more democratic government in the Ukraine.