Six Things You Should Know About the Conflict Between Ukraine and Russia


Stephanie Daniloff

1.    Why is Ukraine revolting against its leaders?

Ukraine is currently not part of the European Union (EU) and many, but not all, of the Ukrainian people would like to join the EU for trade and protective reasons. The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovychwas was overthrown because of his tendencies to support Russian relations over working with the EU. Russia isn’t a part of the EU either, and to have Ukraine join the EU would be detrimental to the trade relations and manufacturing ties Russia has with Ukraine.

2.    Why is there internal conflict in Ukraine? Does everyone want to join the EU?

No. Not everyone in Ukraine wants to join the EU. Some Ukrainians, especially on the eastern sides have strong cultural and language ties with Russia so they feel less inclined to separate. Others, commonly in western Ukraine, see the relationship with Russia to be detrimental for Ukraine’s political and economic sovereignty and stability.

3.    Why does Russia think it can move forces into Ukraine to take over or shut down revolts?

This is the issue that has caused many to claim that Russia is breaking International law by invading Ukraine. Russia does not have any claim over Ukraine, but because of their history and economic ties Russia has decided to take action in hopes of stopping Ukraine from joining the EU. Before the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Ukraine was part of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R) too. While Ukraine did gain its sovereignty as an independent nation the two still have close cultural and economic ties.

4.    What is the Crimea Referendum?

Recently, Crimea, a peninsula section of Ukraine that juts out into the Black Sea, voted last Thursday to consider joining Russia and seceding from Ukraine. This is a decision which Russia supports. Crimea has created a referendum that will be voted on regarding if they want to be annexed by Russia. This decision, however, has caused significant controversy because of the fact that according to international law, in order for borders to change, both nations involved have to agree upon the split. Ukraine as a whole is not involved in the communication between Crimea and Russia, and is not in support of Crimea separating and joining Russia. After the previous president of Ukraine was ousted a new Ukrainian government, which has the support of the European Union and the United States, was established and is also against the referendum. European Union leaders have stated that they find the Crimea Referendum to be “contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution and therefore illegal.” The vote on the referendum will take place on March 16th. If voters in Crimea pass the referendum Crimea hopes to join Russia.

5.    How is the conflict effecting the lives of those living in Ukraine

Many of the lives of those in Ukraine have been affected by the rebellions and tensions especially in the capital Kiev where much of the tensions have boiled over in violent demonstrations. According to the New York Times, over 100 people have died in demonstrations and conflicts between rioters and police forces on both sides. On social media networks the hash-tag “prayforukraine” has become a call for help and for peace as millions remain in the midst of uncertainty and danger.

6.    What is America going to do?

Currently, President Obama and his administration do not support Russian intervention in Ukraine, and do not support the rebels who started tension in Ukraine. This specific conflict has some ambiguity that comes along with it because America has historically been a national that supports self-determination of nations, but in this case America is not supporting the rebels in Ukraine. With the discussion of Russia possibly annexing Crimea, America has brought up placing sanctions on Russia.