Civil unrest in the Ukraine took a turn towards violence last week. As crowds swelled in Kiev’s Independence Square, nearly 100 protestors were gunned by government security forces and countless more were injured. Since November 2013, Ukrainians have been rising up in opposition to what they believe to be an oppressive government that would rather align itself with Russia, rather than with the European Union and the West.
Over the weekend, the Parliament voted President Viktor Yanukovych out of office and he fled the capital of Kiev. His political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko was simultaneously released from prison, serving a sentence after her election defeat in 2010.
The crisis calls into question the United States’ role in promoting freedom throughout the world. President Obama seemingly threatened another red line, similar to what he did on Syria: “We expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint. We’ve also said we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and we’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line.” Yet America has recently shown a reluctance to become entangled in more foreign affairs, failing to follow through on such threats.
Without a willingness to lead with clarity and conviction, one has to wonder what sort of influence we continue to wield on the world stage. Are we witnessing the end of the United States as a superpower? It’s possible that our withdrawal of support for people around the world seeking freedom will leave a void, only to be filled by countries who may present us greater problems in the long-run.
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych Driven From Power: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304914204579398561953855036?mod=djemalertNEWS
Crisis in Ukraine: http://stream.wsj.com/story/deadly-clashes-in-ukraine/SS-2-457850/
Why is Ukraine in turmoil? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25182823
Remarks by President Obama before Restricted Bilateral Meeting: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/19/remarks-president-obama-restricted-bilateral-meeting
Ukrainian Unrest and Obama’s Failed “Reset”: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Ukrainian-Unrest-and-Obama-s-Failed-Reset
The Wall Street Journal, A Quick Guide: What’s Happening in Ukraine: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303775504579393324230970300
National Geographic, Ukraine’s Dangerous Turn Has Roots in History: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140220-ukraine-history-violence-protests-russia-plokii/
The Washington Post, 9 Questions about Ukraine You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/01/30/9-questions-about-ukraine-you-were-too-embarrassed-to-ask/