The Ukraine Love Triangle

Ah, Love. The mysterious thing that just about every human being desires above all us. The elusive feeling we all dream about having. Every once and a while every one probably dreams about having two people in love with them, fighting for them. How romantic! Well, move that paradigm from romance to a political context and the picture is not so pretty anymore. That is what Ukraine is in the thick of right now.

Like most good love stories, this one has a unique and complicated history.When pro-Russian political candidate Viktor Yanukovch was elected to the presidency in 2004, protests were almost immediate. The people rose up and the revolution was a success; the election results were nulled and Yanukovych resigned as Prime Minister.
However, the Orange Revolution was not enough to scare Yanukovych away from poltics forever. In 2010, he was declared President over Yulia Tymoshenko-a candidate who, according to BBC online, held the votes of the capital city, Kiev, and 16 regions of the country. Soon after the election, the government had Tymoshenko arrested .

Fast-forward about three years and the event occurs that brought the love triangle to center stage: President Yanukovych and his cabinet announce that they are officially rejecting an agreement that was created to strengthen ties with the European Union (EU). The cabinet instead proposed closer relations with Russia, a decision that mirrors choosing a lover despite the outcry of friends and family.

With Kiev at the heart of it all, protesters gathered in the thousands across Ukraine in order to express their extreme discontent with the direction in which their country is headed. These demonstrations were met not only with national police forces sent to quell the action, but also with pro-government supporters staking their claim in Maidan square in Kiev and the more pro-Russian cities such as Kharkiv.

These protests and riots have been going on for weeks now with the number of protestors hitting 800,000 on December 8. Things turned deadly on January 22 when two individuals were shot and killed after a fight with the police. The death toll escalated dramatically after Yanukovych’s parliament imposing anti-protest laws on the Ukrainian people.

Although the laws were short-lived, they provided enough motivation for the protestors to continue their fight for their voices to be heard. All of this pressure quickly became too much for Yanukovych who fled Kiev after signing a compromise deal with opposition leaders and the foreign ministers of France, Poland and Germany calling for the creation of a national unity government and a new election in December.

The President was last seen in Balaklava near the Crimean peninsula on Sunday, a predominately Russian region of the Ukraine. There is now an official warrant out for Yanukovych’s arrest on the grounds of the “mass murder of peaceful citizens,” according to interim interior minister Arsen Avakov.

Although it seems to be clear that a large number of the Ukrainian people want their country to make headway on closer relations with the European Union, there is still so much left to decide and determine. From the finalization of a unity government to the insidious amount of debt that the country has accrued since protests began, the future of the Ukraine is shrouded in mystery.

Now comes the question of what is next for this Eastern European nation, literally and metaphorically sandwiched between the two entities who wish to attach themselves to it. As if the political climate of the nation was not enough already, there is also the issue of economic instability and the repercussions that would come upon the Ukraine determining which nation to run into the embrace of.

From where I sit, it appears that there are about two potential paths for Ukraine. The first would be that the newly appointed government would decide to listen to the cry of its protesting people and make strides towards closer relations with the EU. This would upset dear Russia and by doing so, put the Ukraine in quite a sticky situation monetarily speaking due to the potential withdrawal of around 15 billion Russian dollars. The second option would be for Russia to continue with Yanukovych’s plan and deny the EU for its first love and veritable sugar daddy, Russia. This, I believe, would be the worst thing the Ukraine could do at this point, in terms of politics and the current zeitgeist of the nation. Although saving them money, this choice would almost certainly lead to more uprisings, immense civil unrest and perhaps more death and violence; it would be a blatant slap in the face of the people.

Either way, there will be a group of Ukrainian citizens who are not happy with the decision. But, that is nearly always the case when it comes to politics. If the Ukrainian government cherishes its people and wants to do right by them, I believe that moves should be made to continue to improve relations with the EU. However just like any good relationship, for it to work it is imperative that decisions are approached with humility, candor and courage.

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