The eastern part of the country is facing a continuous state of political instability. As a result, Russia has become the target of the United States and the European Union. The two political players are accusing Russia of meddling in the affairs of Ukraine without considering the humanitarian crisis facing that country. Further costs and sanctions are highly likely to be imposed against Russia if the current impasse is not addressed urgently.
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A few days ago, foreign ministers from the European Union promised to enlarge the list of countries that are supposed to face political and economic sanctions. For some time now, Ukraine has been facing a difficult time. A large portion of the eastern urban settlements has been dramatically preoccupied with pro-Russian activists. It is evident that the United States and Russia are not in good terms at all.
The US warship was repeatedly bypassed by a Russian fighter jet some weeks ago. That was similar to the instigating a war between the two countries even though none of the sovereign states can claim the ownership of Ukraine. In spite of the latest occurrences, it is necessary to explore and find answers to some of the most demanding questions.
We are yet to witness any positive progress even though Vladimir Putin held a lengthy phone call with the US President, Barrack Obama. As it stands now, both Ukraine and Russia are accusing each other. Ukraine officials are arguing that the unrest being experienced in the eastern region has been caused by the poor leadership of Kyiv. The large population that occupies the eastern region has been ignored. It appears that this segment of the population is not valued by the- Ukrainian government (Ivshina par. 4).
Armed separatists have received a lot of support from the Russian president. Reports from the White House indicate that this submission by Putin was a major source of concern for the United States and the European Union. President Obama was emphatic that the only way to reach a ceasefire is to urge the pro-Moscow groups to depart the building they have been occupying.
It is interesting to mention that the group can only be persuaded to leave the premises by Putin himself even though he has not demonstrated any willingness to do so. Needless to say, Russia may continue to bear the burden of the poor relationship if the current actions are allowed to persist.
From an anthropological point of view, it can be argued that Russia wants to show that it is more powerful than Ukraine. The United States and European Union are also behaving in the same way. None of these regional partners is willing to stoop low. Perhaps, this scenario can be linked to one of the questions asked by Omohundro, “what do the people say?” (Omohundro 10).
Russia may not be willing to submit to the demands of the United States and the European Union largely due to the fear of being labeled as a coward. Such an approach to issues is common in daily life situations. Even at an individual level, it may not be an easy task to admit mistakes and take corrective measures.
Visa bans and asset freezes are some of the retaliatory steps that the European Union foreign ministers are ready to impose against culprits who have destabilized peace in Ukraine. Terse recommendations were adopted in early April 2014 with the aim of taming Russia and her associates. The Luxemburg meeting also proposed stern measures against individuals who may be found culpable of fueling the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia has also been blamed for the seizure of buildings in the affected region. The foreign secretary for the United Kingdom noted with concern that Russia is playing a heinous role in hampering the process of seeking peace and stability. This can also be explained in terms of the Cold War Context that gripped the major powers, especially after the end of the First and Second World Wars.
Ukraine may also be financially assisted by the European Union after the council of ministers pledged to help the country (Ivshina par. 4). Ukraine may equally enjoy the benefits associated with reduced customs. A proposal has also been made to completely waive some custom duties that Ukraine may incur while trading with the European Union.
Although the proposed measures will significantly revive the weak Ukrainian economy, the European Union is bound to gain political mileage because Russia will be ruled out of the entire equation. All the exports to the European Union from Ukraine may not be subjected to customs duties. When such a move is taken by the EU, it amounts to indirect economic disruption of Russia since the latter will no longer enjoy the earlier bilateral relationship with Ukraine (Baker par. 3).
In spite of these occurrences, an anthropologist may desire to ask some questions, especially in regards to the genesis of Ukraine’s political unrest. A holistic analysis of the entire situation can reveal a lot of hidden political mischief among the major players. For example, it can be recalled that the United States and the entire European Union have been close allies even before the onset of the world wars.
The same logic can still be used to expound the fall of the Russian empire, which was formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It appears that the political enmity, coupled with the inner desire to dominate the world political arena, have continually disrupted the relationship between Russia and the western world. Why should Washington append its signature to a one billion dollar loan to Ukraine at a time when it is in a poor relationship with Russia? Is the approach not tantamount to “divide and rule” tactic?
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The Russian forces are adamant about departing the premises in eastern Ukraine in spite of the earlier orders from the interim government (Hagendoorn, Linssen and Tumanov 51). The appeal has taken too long to be effective irrespective of the fact that the country is already in a state of a humanitarian crisis.
The humanitarian arm of the United Nations Organization has not come out forcefully to restore normalcy in the affected region (Ivshina par. 6). This begs the question of whether the organ is really up to the task or merely serving the narrow interests of the western nations (Carter, Laura, and Phil par. 2). A similar situation in the third world could have been handled quite aggressively.
The pro-Russian soldiers who have been surrounding the eastern buildings are yet to be pulled out from the scene. The interim Ukrainian government has described the soldiers as terrorists who require an anti-terrorist operation. The term “terror” is a rather recent concept that has been tactfully used by political theorists and politicians to portray different preferred meanings (Bremmer 269). While the Islamic world is remarkably associated with acts of terror, it may not be true at all.
The term was earlier coined and used by the western nations to refer to the disgruntled individuals from the eastern world. Although terrorism in contemporary society is real, the term should not be used haphazardly to refer to individuals, groups, and governments with divergent views (Baker par. 5).
At this point, it is necessary to highlight the timeline of the crisis that struck Ukraine. It can be remembered that the tumultuous moments began way back in November 2013 when a European Union deal was not supported by the Ukrainian’s leader (Viktor Yanukovych). The pro-European Union demonstrations erupted in December the same year. The riots grew by bits to alarming levels. The latter culminated into Kyiv’s clashes that left dozens of civilians dead on the 21st and 22nd day of February 2014.
On the second day of the clashes in the Ukrainian’s capital, President Yanukovych fled the country. About one week later, the major buildings in Crimea were seized by the pro-Russian gunmen (Hagendoorn, Linssen and Tumanov 65). By mid-March 2014, a disputed referendum was held. It led to the secession of Crimea. The latter region was thereafter absorbed by Russia. The month of April 2014 has witnessed a rapid takeover of key buildings in the east of the capital.
The timelines of events that eventually led to the unrest in Ukraine can be attributed to the refusal by Ukrainian president to honor the deal suggested by the European Union. Perhaps, the president was merely defending the sovereignty of Ukraine as an independent nation by refusing to honor every proposal put forward by the European Union (Legvold 32).
The issue of power dominion is clearly evident in this scenario. Inability to respect the sovereignty of a nation amounts to neo-colonialism. However, this argument does not conclude that the Ukrainian president was perfect in his leadership styles and skills. For example, it is within the public knowledge that the president usurped the powers of major state organs and also misused his office through rampant corruption (Baker par. 2).
The Russian foreign minister recently stated that the wellbeing of Ukraine is a major concern for Russia. He added that fair treatment of the entire Kyiv population was necessary in order to ensure a smooth transition into a stable future.
The minister argued that President Putin is also keen on making sure that Ukraine regains its political and economic stability. The visit by the senior White House official in Kyiv also raised eyebrows in Russia because it was seen as a strategic measure to curb the influence of Russia in the region (Carter, Laura and Phil par. 2).
However, the above claims are not consistent with the reality presented by anthropologists. According to Omohundro, critical thinking is an invaluable tool for analyzing situations (76). This explains why the author has broadly constructed the ideas in his book using several questions. When critical thinking is applied in the above case, the context of the Kiev’s unrest can be understood rather clearly. Each party is attempting to win global publicity at the expense of civilians who are suffering in Ukraine (Snyder par. 1).
Baker, Peter. With Ukraine Tensions Mounting, U.S. Weighs New Sanctions Against Russia. 2014. Web.
Bremmer, Ian. “The Politics of Ethnicity: Russians in the New Ukraine”. Europe-Asia Studies 46 (2): 261–283. Print.
Carter Chelsea, Smith-Spark, Laura and Black, Phil. Putin: Escalating conflict puts Ukraine on ‘brink of civil war’. 2014. Web.
Hagendoorn Louk, Hub Linssen and Sergei, Tumanov. Intergroup Relations in States of the former Soviet Union: The Perception of Russians. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2001. Print.
Ivshina, Olga. Ukraine crisis: EU and US mull further Russia sanctions Advertisement. 2014. Web.
Legvold, Robert. Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century and the Shadow of the Past. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Print.
Omohundro, John. Thinking Like an Anthropologist: A Practical Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Print.
Snyder, Timothy. Beneath the Hypocrisy, Putin Is Vulnerable. Here’s Where His Soft Spots Are. 2014. Web.