The Ukraine ConQict
Background: Description of the Country and History Outline
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Fig. A: Map of Ukraine before the Ukraine Crisis (Your-Vector-Maps.com, 2012)
Ukraine is located in Eastern Europe between Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Belarus in the West and Russia and the Black Sea in the East. The unitary state of Ukraine has 24 oblasts (administrative units), one autonomous republic (Crimea), two municipalities (Kiev and Sevastopol) and a population of 45,6 million people (78% of these are Ukrainians, 17% are Russian, 0,6% Belarusians and 0,5% are Crimean Tatars)
(Auswärtiges Amt, 2014). The capital and biggest city is Kiev with 2,7 million inhabitants.
Ukraine’s economy gained a Gross Domestic Product (ofPcial exchange rate) of $175,5 billion in 2013 and had a growth rate of 0,4% but underwent a hard economic period with a contraction of 15% in 2009 (CIA, 2014). Ukraine is dependant on Russia for energy supply (gas).
Ukraine gained independence with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. Corruption and state control stood democracy, civil rights, privatisation and economic reformation in the way and led to a peaceful “Orange Revolution” in 2004. Following this revolution Victor Yushchenko, a reformist, was elected for president. However, disagreements in the reformists party led rival Viktor Yanukovych to gain political power. He was elected for Prime Minister in 2006 and then for president in 2010. Yanukovych’s backtracking on a trade agreement with the EU in November 2013 - favouring closer economic relationship with Russia - led to three months of long, escalating protests which were mainly situated in Kiev but were also active in western Ukraine. The government tried to suppress the protests, leaving many dead and injured on both sides. After three months of protests Yanukovich Qed to Russia and an interim government set new elections for 25th May 2014. Shortly after Yanukovich’s departure, pro-Russian separatists ,who were anonymous Russian soldiers, invaded the Ukraine border claiming to protect Russians and seized ofPcial buildings and military bases, especially the important naval base of Sevastopol (Motyl, 2014). Despite protests by the Ukrainian Government, the European Union (EU), the United States of America (USA) and the
United Nations (UN) Assembly, Crimea was integrated into the Russian Federation in March 2014. The Ukrainian Government declared Crimea as occupied by Russia but insisted on being the legal owner of the peninsula. Contemporaneous to the Crimean action, pro-Russian separatists occupied parts of the regions of Donetsk,
Lugansk and Kharkiv (see map). These regions gained international attention as Ukrainian forces and separatist forces were involved in serious armed conQicts. A new anti-climax was reached after separatists took down an international
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Fig. B: Map of regions under control of pro- Russian and Russian forces (red). (The author's own compilation based on the map from Your- Vector-Map.com and the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine from 23.10.2014) commercial airplane, namely the Boing 777 from Malaysia Airlines Qight MH-17 in July 2014 where 283 people were killed (Basora & Fisher, 2014).
According to the UN OfPce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at least 3,707 people were killed and 9,075 people were injured since the beginning of the conQict on 21st November 2013. UN OCHA also counted 415,078 people who were internally displaced and 427,004 who Qed to neighbouring countries by 17th October 2014 (UN OCHA, 2014). Furthermore, OCHA estimates these numbers to be even higher than what was originally thought.
The ConQict Parties
Many parties were involved since the beginning of the conQict on 21st November 2013. First the old Ukrainian Government with its President Viktor Yanukovych, who had to give up his position on 22 February 2014 because of ongoing protests from the opposition as well as increased political pressure about the abuse of power and violation of human rights during the demonstration period. The opposition, also calledEuromaidan,was formed by ten- thousand of pro-European Ukrainians on the independence squareMaidan Nezalezhnostiin Kiev. The people and one of their most prominent leaders, world-champion boxer Vladimir Klitschko, were demonstrating for their hope of a better European future and against a struggling economy, corruption of the government and Yanukovych’s balking to sign a trade agreement with the EU. Klitschko said in a speech on Maidan on 29 November 2013: “Today they stole our dream, our dream of living in a normal country. The failure to sign the agreement of association is treason” (Legge, 2013). Both parties started the conQict but they are a matter of secondary importance in the ongoing conQict.
The core conQict consists of the different desires of the many interested factions. First of these is the new Ukrainian Government under President Petro Poroschenko, who was elected on 25 May 2014 and who wants to secure the integrity of the Ukrainian territory. Next are the pro-Russian separatists who are holding parts of the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv with armed forces and want to split off from Ukraine. A third party is the Russian Federation with its President Vladimir Putin who support pro-Russian separatists by providing them with weapons, training and political backup, the annexation of Crimea and visas for Russia. On another side of the conQict is the EU with its representatives, which may bail out the Ukrainian state for its gas-bills, and which has interests to integrate Ukraine into the EU. Last but not least is the USA under president Barack Obama who became involved after Russia stepped into the happenings, reintroducing the realists theory of Balanceof Power(Fortmann, Paul, & Wirtz, 2004).
Ukraine Government versus pro-Russian Separatists
The conQict between the new Ukraine Government and pro-Russian separatists can be simpliPed with a long on-going division between Ukraine’s East (pro-Russian) and West (pro- European), which has its roots at least 20 years ago after the downfall of the USSR. Before this period the people were united as Soviets, but after the fall of the USSR the government and its elites did not manage to reunite the Ukrainian folk, nor did they succeed in establishing a comprehensive Ukrainian nationality or Pnd a consistent path for the European/Russian question (Prokop, 2014). The path of Ukraine’s EU integration was decided by the election of Petro Poroschenko for President on 25 May 2014 and pro-EU parties which were the driving force in the government on 26 October 2014. The addition of ballots from Yatsenyuk’s People's Front and the Poroshenko Bloc cemented the pro-European trend (nearly 45%). The government’s goal is to regain sovereignty and to reunite the apostatised regions, leading Ukraine and the Ukrainian people toward a European future. The separatists, on the other hand, are trying hard to afPliate with Putin’s Russia by reasoning that they have nothing in common with a Ukrainian State - in fact separatists feel more Russian or even Soviet than Ukrainian (Hrytsak, 1998). Since 5 September 2014 there has been a ceasePre in place but it tends to be violated daily.
The Russian Federation versus Ukraine
With the deployment of unmarked Russian soldiers to Crimea and support of pro- Russian separatists near the Russian border, as well as the seizing of Ukraine warships, bases and other war equipment, Russia has intervened into the conQict unilaterally. The explanation of the origins of this action can be traced back to past political happenings in NATO and EU, as well as the promotion of democracy in the Ukraine together with sensitive military developments in the border region of Russia (Mearsheimer, 2014) as well as in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). First the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has expanded over the last 20 years eastwards (e.g. Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia etc.) leaving just a few former USSR parts left out (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus etc.). Nearly the same development can be observed concerning the EU, but they are now targeting the Ukraine as