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Tension Between Russia and Ukraine Intensifies

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Protests in Ukraine began in November 2013 when Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended talks with the European Union (EU). Had Yanukovych signed the Free Trade Agreement and Associate Agreement, Ukraine would have gained closer political ties to the EU as well as economic growth, according to CNN.

However, Russia threatened the neighboring country with trade sanctions and high gas bills if Ukraine signed the agreement. As another incentive, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to lend $15 billion to near-bankrupt Ukraine and offered lower prices for natural gas. However, the deal has frozen during the current ordeal.

“I don’t expect that the Russians will give up Crimea, [nor] that the EU or NATO will get involved militarily,” Social Science Department Chair Javier Gutierrez said.

In addition, Russia’s parliament voted unanimously to use military force in Ukraine. However, Russian military intervention would effectively start a civil war between Europe-oriented western Ukraine and Russia-oriented eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has accused Russia of sending thousands of additional troops, though Russia claimed that the forces were deployed to defend important Russian sites.

From the U.S., President Obama condemned Russia for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, but Putin defended his decision as protecting Russia’s self-interest. Furthermore, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Putin’s actions to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, according to Long Beach Press-Telegram.

According to Time magazine, neither the United States nor the EU is willing to gather money for an economic package to Ukraine, urging Ukraine to borrow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) instead. Managing Director of IMF Christine Lagarde says that Ukraine must demonstrate reform of its economy with the offered funds.

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