By Bella McCarey
Once again, America has intensely focused their attention on foreign affairs with the growing crisis in Ukraine, this time with reluctance towards becoming involved with Russia due to our weary Cold War relations.
The crisis initially began when over 300,000 Ukrainian protesters took to the streets of Kiev’s Independence Square in early December, leading to the overthrow of the Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych. The protests were caused by the Ukrainian government’s refusal of a trading deal that would lead to a stronger relationship with the west. Instead, they accepted a payout from Russia. From Dec. 1 to Feb. 20, 91 protesters were killed during the series of riots.
Ukraine is divided on the issue, with the eastern part of the country looking forward to Russia becoming more involved in their country in regions such as Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Crimea. The other half of the country, including the capital Kiev, are pro-Western and are opposed to associations with a country that has fallen behind the rest of the world by a time span of decades.
Following Yanukovych’s flee from Ukraine, the former Prime Minister of the country Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison and set May 25 aside for the new elections.
With the upcoming deadline of the elections, Russian president Vladimir Putin has taken quick action to make sure that Russian citizens of Crimea and the far eastern region aren’t affected by the new election.
A recent vote put forth by Putin has given the Russian-proclaimed people of Ukraine a voice in whether they would like to remain where they are or embrace their true nationality.
The vote swayed in favor of a partition, immediately granting Putin access to the Black Sea, ultimately causing an international uproar.
The UN Security Council recently held a meeting on Apr. 14 to discuss the crisis, with international diplomats coming to the agreement that Russia can’t simply take a part of Ukraine without direct supervision of the international community and a formal vote overseen by UN officials. Major concerns are that unmarked Russian troops will continue to invade, with the eventual goal of annexing the entire eastern part of the country, which it will incite a civil war in Ukraine.
“Russia, which shares a large border with Ukraine, as well as the broader European region faces spillover effect of potentially severe consequences,” assistant secretary-general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said in a public statement. “Such scenarios will also have repercussions for the entire international community.”
For the United States, President Obama has spoken for the entire country that this is not an issue that we should be heavily involved with.
The Commander-in-Chief has a history of allowing diplomatic issues to sit in a binder at the corner of his resolute English oak desk for months on end, and it is no surprise that he is taking some heat for how he is handling this issue.
In a public statement to the country, President Obama has stated that popular sovereignty will be upheld internationally by his administration. “I don’t think we can be sure of anything [in the Ukrainian crisis]. I think there is the possibility, the prospect, that diplomacy may deescalate the situation.”
Over the last month President Obama has contacted Vladimir Putin regarding Russia’s occupation in Ukraine and has made it known that he does not want to engage American troops in this conflict, however if worse comes to worse, that may be necessary.
“We’re not going to know whether there is follow through on these statements for several days,” Obama said.
News outlets have voiced that Obama’s words are just filling space and time from now until mid-term elections in November. “With Russia’s incursion into Ukraine reviving Cold War-style tensions,” Reuters.com staff writer Steve Holland from Washington writes, “President Barack Obama is at risk of suffering a blow to his credibility at a time when he can least afford it: as he tries to convince voters to stick with his fellow Democrats in congressional elections that will help shape his legacy.”
It is a legacy that is in danger of being laid to rest, should Obama continue to throw around empty, meaningless threats. Economic sanctions have been set up against Ukraine but that is the extent of the United States involvement.
So the question Washington now faces is where to go from here. It has been pointed out by news outlets and late night talk shows that we have invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq for almost 12 years so it is not our place or right to interject. However, a significant difference is that we never annexed a part of those countries, we merely bombed them and are now spending billions of dollars to repair the damage.
The media and a select few politicians are intently watching as more events unfold and with every fresh news release, Russia comes closer and closer to obtaining one of its former Soviet Union regions.