Kiev Protesters
A man wearing Ukrainian national flag walks past Ukrainian riot police as they block the road in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Associated Press/Reuters)

by Angelo Pacheco

Perhaps, the repetition of history is evident in modern day Ukraine. Recently, Ukraine’s political and social turmoil has been highlighted throughout news media. Historically, the same foes are present, Russia and Ukraine. On many occurrences, Ukraine has been ravaged by Russia, and, in turn, Russia, along with Nazi Germany, invaded Ukraine in World War II. In addition, Ukraine was under Soviet occupation and Russia served as imperialists. Ukraine did not gain independence until 1991.

The chaos began in November when Ukraine’s President, Viktor F. Yanukovych, rejected a trade pact with the European Union. The protest intensified when Ukraine accepted Russia’s $15 billion to purchase their debt and slashed gas prices. President Yanukovych’s political decision was highly unpopular and not favored by most Ukrainians. Hence, the violent protests in Kiev.

Protestors have piled into Kiev to show demonstrations and displeasure toward the current President, and Independence Square has been the predominant setting for the violence. Police were given the authority to use weaponry towards the protestors, resulting in protestors retaliating via shootings; the police and protestors have had many bloody exchanges. According to an ABC News article 70 people have been reported dead and over 500 wounded.

The uprisings reached a climax and President Yanukovych declared a truce, which may be a plea for the preservation of his presidency. It may be a strategic way to reorganize the military and to put down the protestors. Unfortunately for President Yanukovych, an issue was warranted for his arrest, holding him accountable for “mass killings” of civilians. Recently, President Yanukovych has disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown. Now, the country faces instability.

The political and social upheaval is merely based on history. Russia wants to reclaim a strong influence in the former Soviet Union territory, Ukraine. Russia views Ukraine’s financial disaster as an opportunity to gain control, thus leaving Ukraine as a “strategic gateway” into Europe. In addition, Russia always wanted a strong military ally to avoid invasion. Ukraine could serve as a fortress and a first line of defense for Russia.

In contrast, the European Union wants to have an influence in the former Soviet Union territories. They want to limit Russia’s influence, remove them from diplomatic relations, and woo Ukraine and Eastern European countries into agreements. The European Union wants to limit Russia’s power and gain access to these former Soviet territories.

Ukrainians share the same commonality. They prefer the European Union agreement and want to rid themselves from decades of Russian influence. The history between these two nations is negative. Ukraine wants to rid itself of domestic debt and become a successful nation. They want to follow the same economic, political, and social models of neighboring counties in the European Union.

Perhaps, this is cry to rid itself from their imperialists and pursue a “true independent nation model.” One thing is certain: patriotism is alive in Independence Square and throughout the country. The world awaits a positive resolution and the bloodshed to cease.