By: CHRIS ZIMMER – COLUMNIST, SOPHOMORE
The violence in Ukraine, the state formerly controlled by the Soviet Union, began in latter half of November 2013 when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an economic deal with the European Union, and instead decided to strengthen the country’s trade relationship with Russia.
Opposition leaders from two separate political parties, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, recently rejected offers from Yanukovych to hold high level government positions to ease the escalating tensions as violence across the country against the state gained traction and spread.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia beginning in a week, many Americans are fearful that violence in the Ukraine could flood down to the port city on the Black Sea.
Protests have been going on for nearly two months and have turned deadly as of last week, with at least three college-aged protestors killed by police. What’s happening in Eastern Europe is evidence suggesting the remnants of the Cold War still linger and should bring international attention. How quickly do we forget that it was just over two decades ago that United States was in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and nuclear annihilation was the world’s biggest fear?
Even today we still see a diplomatic tug-of-war battle going on between Western-backed nations and former Soviet Union states – including Russia – as demonstrated in the Ukraine where many residents feel an E.U. membership would lead to better economic prosperity than what their current situation provides.
President Yanukovych’s decision to refuse a trade agreement with the E.U., still shows Russia has an authoritarian control over its former states and can muscle its way through the muddy game of geo-politics.
While I have always believed that diplomacy should come first before the “boots on the ground” approach, the United States and nations of the European Union must intervene for peace to promote stability in the region prior to the Winter Olympics, not just for the sake of athelete safety, but also the safety of civilians in general.
Even though I have complained about the U.S. getting involved in international affairs, I saw pictures of Orthodox priests praying in the middle of protests which made me realize, violence isn’t the answer to a political problem. Through diplomacy, we were able to avoid the controversial “controlled air strikes” Obama proposed for Syria that many war-wary American’s were not in favor of.
I believe international humanitarian aid and cooperation is necessary for peace in Eastern Europe.
The British Broadcasting Company, BBC, has confirmed in its coverage of the protests that the “door remains open” for Ukraine to sign an economic agreement, and along with the United States, has condemned the Ukrainian president’s anti-protest laws in a nation which is striving to be a truly democratic system.
Should these doors of opportunity become closed, the people of Ukraine will have to rework their initiatives at making their country more democratic and less dependent on foreign entities for help. This should be done through intense dialogue, not violence.