What is happening in Ukraine? These days, it’s not as prevalent in the news as it once was. That is not to say however, that nothing is happening. The Ukraine conflict continues, perhaps it has simmered down, but it is far from over. On May 23rd, a top rebel commander in Eastern Ukraine was killed. Alexi Mozgovoi, was critical of the Minsk Agreement and firmly stood against the Russian-backed separatists. As of now, Donestsk Ukraine and its surrounding villages had a population of 3,000 people; today there are only 40 people in the area. Basic necessities such as water and electricity have been cut off to those who remain in the area.
What is the cause of such devastation in eastern Ukraine? Ukraine faces a power struggle between Russia and the Ukrainian government. It can be argued that had Ukraine accepted a relation with the EU, creating greater economic integration, it may also help in building democratic institutions. Perhaps this is the point in international conflict where a third party can bring political stability. However, it has caused a clash between Ukrainian nationals and separatists who wish for greater integration with neighboring Russia. Ukraine stands in the geopolitical struggle between greater integration with the West or with Russia. There is an identity crisis for some Ukrainians.
In February of this year, Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down to discuss a ceasefire. In the discussion it was agreed that both sides would relinquish their weapons, release hostages, restore social and economic links to affected areas and most importantly, give the Ukrainian government full control of the state. While this agreement for peace was made in February, Ukrainians stand far from a peaceful reality today. Since the Minsk Agreement was signed, neither side has launched a major offensive, however, no one has retreated. On May 5th the Ukrainian government announced that they lost control of 28 towns and villages since February 18th – three days after the Minsk Agreement was in effect. It can be therefore surmised that the chances of the conflict increasing are high due to the rhetoric and fighting that still continues today. Russia continues to deny its involvement in arming and assisting the Pro-Russian rebel groups in Ukraine.
On the international front, the Ukrainian government has enlisted the help of the United States to train Ukrainian soldiers to fight back Russian aggression. Russia has in response accused Ukraine of involving a third party that they threaten could potentially aggravate the conflict. As we can see, this conflict has more to do with the struggle for power and control and less about the maintenance of stability. In all the research I did toward this article, it was seldom I found information on the human condition. The heads of state have dealt with the conflict and “resolution” while the feeling and conditions of the people are in disarray and in times like this, difficult to gauge. Peace is achieved through an active conversation among the people while corrupt ambition, ego and arrogance are left at the door.
education with a Masters in International Conflict and Security in Brussels this Fall.