In order to understand what is happening in Ukraine, you should know it is not a homogeneous entity but a mix of different cultures and nationalities that have been clashing on this land for centuries. Some would like to be closer to Europe and others to Russia.
From a geopolitical point of view, most Ukrainians who live near the western border see themselves as a part of the EU, whereas people living in the East look up more to Russia. One of the reason for this is a simple fact that a significant part of those citizens are Russians. Also, economically the country is divided into the wealthier East and the poorer West. The poverty of the West stems from the lack of economic development.
It’s no wonder we can observe masses of Ukrainians from the West coming to Poland for shopping and looking with envy at the European lifestyle and higher standards of living. Poland has transformed very quickly from a communistic to a capitalistic country. The economical situation of the eastern Ukraine, on the other hand, is much better due to its ties with Russia. They benefit greatly from the support of their powerful neighbor.
And so the question arises – to be again a Russia’s vassal, but benefit from cheap gas, or more to the West and the European Union? But then the Ukrainian elite will be accountable for every cent they will spend. It’s not difficult to guess which way is closer to those politicians who prefer to communicate in Russian than in Ukrainian. Probably this choice would have been made without the bloody unrest we can watch in media today if it hadn’t been for a few educated in the West, supporting Western values members of the opposition who would like to create a country that is economically and politically independent.
Personally, I think that’s a fantasy. The modern geopolitics show that countries should unite with their neighbors. I also do not believe that Ukraine, after what is happening today in Kiev, could agree to one of the options. Are we witnessing another division in Europe?
Both the riot police and the army have hard nuts to crack. Although the former are standing on the other side of the barricade, they often identify with the demonstrators. However, the events of the recent weeks have shown that there is a gap between the society and the police. BERKUT – a police unit specialized in fighting organized crime, dealing with crowds and demonstrations, is hated by the protesters.
There have been also big changes in the army. On Wednesday president Viktor Yanukovych sacked the head of the armed forces, Col Gen Volodymyr Zamana. Col Gen Zamana has been replaced by the commander of Ukraine’s navy, Admiral Yuriy Ilyin. Acting minister of defense Pavlo Leviediev has ordered the airborne forces to be deployed to Kiev under a pretense to secure ammunition storage.
The most important question today is whether the army is going to be used to pacify the demonstrators. If so, then we have an open road to a civil war in Ukraine.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Business Insider)