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What risks does Ukraine face by overthrowing its democratically elected leader? When does a foreign country receive the right to interfere in another country’s internal affairs? When do people have the right to overthrow their democratically elected government?
In November 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych walked away from a free trade agreement with the European Union (E.U.) under pressure from Russia. The agreement would have been an essential milestone towards full E.U. membership. While the Ukraine has long been pulled between western and eastern influences, polls show more than 50 percent of citizens would now like to get closer to Europe.
In response to the failed agreement, demonstrators took to the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev to protest Yanukovych, who they saw as blocking progress. The protests also signal an internal political schism, as protests were only active in the part of the country that did not vote for Yanukovych in the 2010 elections.
After a period of relative calm, the protests started again in mid-February, but this time they were much more violent. Rioting in Kiev has resulted in the deaths of more than 70 protesters, though actual numbers remain inconclusive.
Since then, President Yanukovych has fled the country for Russia and Ukraine appointed an interim president and prime minister. Although protests have calmed in Kiev, the real conflict has moved to the Crimean peninsula, where Russian troops have moved in to occupy parts of the region. The Crimean peninsula is home to many ethnic Russians who support a pro-Russian agenda. However, the minority Tatars who also live in Crimea are staunchly opposed to Russian influence.
Russian forces surrounded local military bases last week and ordered Ukrainian troops to disarm. These actions have led to standoffs with Ukrainian soldiers who have refused to follow these demands.
Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk asked Putin to retract his military forces and warned that “we are on the brink of disaster.”
The new prime minister also sought out help from NATO under a 1994 accord between the organization and Moscow that guarantees security for Ukraine. NATO ambassadors met in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
Rebuffing calls to back down, Putin has denied sending troops into Ukraine, but said Russia has the right to protect its interests in the ethnically Russian part of the country. He has also said that Russian speakers in other parts of eastern Ukraine were under threat from the Ukraine’s new pro-Western government.
Now, Crimeans have called for a vote on splitting from Ukraine and rejoining Russia, prompting stiff opposition from international leaders.
The Crimean Parliament announced a referendum on whether the region should join Russia or remain part of Ukraine, but the newly formed government in Kiev pushed back, calling it illegal.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowUkraine
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
PBS NewsHour Extra video + blog Fresh protest violence erupts in Ukrainian capital
Fire erupted in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev this week and more than a dozen people killed in the latest anti-Russian protests that have embroiled the country for almost three months. >>Report from February 19, 2014
PBS NewsHour Extra video + blog Crimeans split over support for new Ukrainian government
Following the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych after weeks of violent protest in Kiev, proposed new Ukrainian leaders were introduced to demonstrators yesterday. However, that was overshadowed by mounting concerns over Russian military moves across the border.
KQED The Lowdown post Seven Short Videos That Help Make Some Sense of the Conflict in Ukraine
In the decades after World War II, the proportion of women working in the United States escalated rapidly. But since peaking in April 2000 at 74.9%, the rate for women began to decline.
PBS NewsHour article Background Briefing: What you should know about the Ukraine crisis
An in-depth look at the crisis in Ukraine from Robert McMahon, editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.