Student Op-Eds

Conflicts within Ukraine

Julia Scacchitti ’15  Inside Politics

The current situation in Ukraine has led to various controversies concerning the involvement of the European Union (EU) and the United States in these devastating human rights violations. Violent clashes between protesters and Interior Ministry troops on February 18 have led to further violence within the country and caused a strain on peace and cooperation. Peaceful demonstrations have developed into violent and unjust firings, where many have been victims of gross violations of human rights and police brutality. This unjust violence has left over 25 people dead, while security forces have been shooting at will with no sense of order or direction and perhaps without preempted cause or reason.

The power of the state is rapidly declining in Ukraine; if violence is not properly controlled it could eventually turn into a bloody civil war. Months of protests have turned into a major conflict and caused political unrest between citizens and the police force; demonstrations have turned deadly. This political unrest has led to much devastation throughout the country, where various upheavals may lead to further political and economic troubles. Some feel that the United States and EU should create an emergency aid package to Ukraine to help them avoid default.  In this case, they would be required to increase economic and political reform and reduce imported energy from Russia.

The United States has verbally expressed its opinion on the direction of this conflict and how it feels the country should move forward. President Obama has formally denounced the increased violence in Ukraine and has urged the country’s military to stay out of the conflict. He has also stated that the government should handle peaceful protesters in an appropriate way without the use of violence so that citizens are able to speak freely and without repression. This alarm for human rights abuses has been a wide spread concern within the situation. The corruption in the Ukrainian government has led to the need for further investigation. Various officials within the Ukrainian government have been suspected of corruption and participation in these human rights violations.  The state department has banned U.S. visas to 20 Ukrainians because of their involvement in human rights abuses related to political repression.

This past week, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the necessity for an expedient agreement between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the political opposition. Officials within the United States have been in contact with both Russian and Ukrainian elected officials in the past month, trying to come to some sort of agreement or a way to assist in the current situation. In addition to President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with the three Ukrainian opposition leaders, Chuck Hagel has spoken to the Ukrainian Defense Minister, and Vice President Biden has spoken with Yanukovych in nine separate conversations since November. This demonstrates the increased and dedicated involvement of the United States in the current issues and conflicts within Ukraine.

Yanukovych has stepped down from his position and has fled to the Russian-dominated east part of the country. Ukrainian’s Interior Minister has also fled the country.  He is said to be primarily involved in the majority of the violence and human rights violations.

Mediated through European influences, there has been plans to form a new government and hold early elections. Ukrainian parliament has worked on heavily decreasing the powers of the presidential position. The United States has widely promoted the attempts for a stronger and more unified government by forming a more technocratic and broad coalition government. They will continue to promote a nonviolent, democratic government that is oriented towards peaceful negotiations, where more democratic institutions and organizations are set in place.