The tide over the Ukrainian crisis is constantly rising, the latest development being the signing of the treaty annexing Crimea by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
The Ukrainian crisis can be traced back to the November 2013, when the seeds of protest were initially sown. President Victor Yanukovych, who ruled Ukraine from 2010, had failed to live up to the masses' expectations. In a summit in Lithuania, Yanukovych abandoned plans to sign the long pending deal with the European Union, thus distancing Ukraine from Europe's orbit. This angered Ukrainians and they took to the streets. The world saw a new wave of revolution in Ukraine as over 300,00 protesters took over Kiev’s Central Independence square to voice their dismay and despair. Sensing a rosy ground for Russia, President Putin, announced to buy bonds worth $15 billion from Ukraine, thus enabling them to easily source out natural gas. Thousands of Ukrainians, unhappy with the Russian tie up, demanded a westernised ideology and change in the form of governance. The protests reached their peak on the 22nd of January when two protesters were shot dead in the demonstrations. A third was killed in a fall out between the Ukrainian officials and the general masses.
This unrest in Ukraine has seen the worst political violence since their separation from the Soviet Union back in 1991. As the protests for impeaching the Ukrainian president intensified, 25 more people died in Kiev. The Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill to impeach the President in February 2014. Meanwhile Crimea, a major Russian speaking territory in South Ukraine, was looming in the dark. The Crimean peninsula was Russia's only link to the Black sea, which harboured a great port of opportunity for the country. Russia, already regretful of losing out on Crimea during the Soviet separation, was prompt to help the territory when the need arose. Crimea ousted their Prime minister in late February 2014 and expressed the desire to join Russia. On 16 March, 2014, Crimea officially announced its separation from Ukraine and its wish to join the mega power Russia. Vladimir Putin signed the treaty to annex Crimea on 18th March, 2014, thus sanctioning the wish.
The signing of the treaty has lead to many chords being cut and new bonds being formed. People, including a major chunk of youngsters from all over the world, are suddenly disputing the decision. Some call it a western influence, while some call it the war of the 21st century. The youth in both the countries are vocal about their opinions on the matter.
Eugenie Kozharina, a Russian studying at the National Research University - Higher school of Economics, Moscow, says, “When Crimea decided they want to make a referendum and vote for whether they want to become a part of Russia again, how could anybody stop them from this decision? I think that annexation of Crimea is very important to Russia, because of the access to the Black Sea, and it is something that we owned before. But I hate the idea of interfering with the internal affairs of the country. It is all about dirty politics and it seems like a new round of Cold War.”
Olesya, a 19-year-old student from Irkutsk, Russia, seems to be rather weary of the ongoing dispute. She says, “I don't want a war. The most important thing, I think, is the safety of people who are under the authority. I don't know, I just hope that this situation will end soon."
Ekaterina, a Ukrainian student, says, “Russia and Mr Putin have it going all wrong as they decided to break the sovereignty of a unitary country. I feel that people in Crimea don't understand what they are putting themselves into. Russia especially should have stayed away, considering the fact that Crimea was no longer a part of their rule after the Soviet split.”
Crimea joining Russia has resulted in the worst case of East-West tensions with the United States and the European Union condemning Moscow's actions. What remains to be seen is whether the situation will result in another Cold War, or take a course of its own.