For the past three months, a protest movement has been expressing opposition to the government of Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. Yesterday (Feb. 18), the protest reached a current peak when the country suffered its worst bloodshed since leaving the Soviet empire. More than 20 people were reported killed as riot police moved in to clear Kiev’s Independence Square, the crucible of the anti-government activism.
What is the cause of the conflict?
At its root, the conflict is about the future development of the country – will it be a country based on the rule of law, or Russian-style oligarchy and closed interests?
Many in the Ukraine want closer ties (and possibly even membership) into the European Union. But in November the government stopped preparations for a trade deal with the EU, which sparked the protests. In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered economic lifeline to Ukraine, with $15 billion of loans and cheaper gas supplies. Protesters viewed this move as Moscow buying off their country’s President and are seeking to unseat Yanukovych and force early presidential elections.
Where exactly is Ukraine?