Ukraine: Not What It Seems

After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

Representatives from Germany, France, Poland and Russia came to Kyiv to work out a final deal that would put an end to the fighting. The opposition insisted that Yanukovych step down as president and early elections be held. When Yanukovych chose to flee Kyiv instead, the parliament voted to impeach him and set new elections for May 25.

While Ukrainians take tours of Yanukovych\'s expensive homes and the protesters remain vigilant on Independence Square in Kyiv, many are concerned with the neighbor to the east and what their next move will be. Russia so far has condemned the violence. The Russian media reports that the opposition and protesters are made up of fascist groups and nationalists who don\\'t respect law and order. These groups get their backing from Western Europe and the United States. Many Russians believe the United States is responsible for the unrest in different countries around the world, for example Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

Russians look to the west and see a Europe that\'s become decadent and immoral. Many believe Russia is the only European country left upholding morality and order, and they must be strong and vigilant to remain so. This requires strong leaders and a sense of traditional values that must be upheld. Slavic countries are looked upon by Russians as their brothers, and they believe it\\'s their job to protect them and keep them safe from western perversion. With Ukraine now under a new interim government that favors integration into the European Union, Russians can\\'t help but feel the west has seduced Ukraine and will pull it away from Russian influence.

Not all Ukrainians are happy with the change of power and the removal of the president either. In Crimea, where many ethnic Russians live, they feel it may be necessary for Russia to send help to the peninsula. Some Russians have expressed on social media that they want their government to do that. The Kremlin has taken limited action. A major concern Russia has is with the Black Sea fleet stationed in Sevastopol. This is one port that stays ice free, and since the break up of the Soviet Union Russia now must lease this naval port from Ukraine. The Yanukovych government easily passed another extension on the lease, which was due to expire in 2015. Many government members wanted to let the lease lapse and force the Russians to move the fleet out of their country.

Russia, the European Union, and the United States will have much work to do in the near future to stabilize Ukraine and put them on track to recover from months of conflict. The economy needs money, which Russia and the EU has promised, but now no one is sure who is willing to help and how much money is available. Russia of course will wait to see who is elected president before making any decision to continue funding Ukraine. The EU will likely offer an IMF loan, which will come with austerity measures. Ukraine already struggles, and austerity right now is the last thing they need. The people of Ukraine began their protests three months ago when their president refused to keep his promise and take steps to bring Ukraine into the EU. Now he is gone, and the nation may have lost the opportunity to do what they originally began protesting for in November of 2013. Russia’s presence doesn’t help this situation and the world is watching.