Geography: Key Events In Ukraine's Political Crisis

2154 words - 9 pages

For much of its recent history, [Ukraine] has been viewed as divided between two regions— one oriented toward Eurasia/USSR in the east and one toward Central Europe in the west (Sellar and Pickles, 2002). The geographic location of the Ukraine — nestled in between Russia and Europe — and the subsequent mix of cultures, languages and histories of the citizens of modern day Ukraine have been the source of political and social unrest nation-wide for many years. The European Union/Russian Federation fault line that has always split the Ukrainian population was in large part the reason the most recent protests began in November. On November 21, 2013 President Viktor Yanukovych's government announced it was abandoning an agreement to strengthen ties with the European Union and was instead seeking closer cooperation with Moscow. Protesters took to the streets (The Associated Press). With these protests the contested identity of the Ukrainian people could be in its most fragile state, and when the initially peaceful protests had a less than peaceful response from police, the movement only gained more momentum. On December 1, 2013 more than 300,000 protesters occupied Independence Square (50.4500° N, 30.5242° E), known as the Maidan, in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. That same day protesters also seized control of Kiev City Hall. Many of these protesters set up camp in the square and in city hall, and barricades were built by protesters around the perimeter of the square to demonstrate their determination. Ten days later Ukrainian police flexed their muscles by quickly and forcefully clearing out the square and city hall. This only added fuel to the fire though, as the next day protesters gathered in even larger numbers and rebuilt stronger barricades. On December 17, 2013 the first three, of what would eventually turn into 95, protesters died in confrontation with police. With each day that passed, the situation in Kiev worsened, and protests eventually began to spread to other areas of the country. The resulting state of the Ukrainian country is a chaotic one, and the political and cultural division among the Ukrainian people is now worse than ever. To analyze the contestation of the Ukrainian identity, the diverse cultural, political and material landscape of Ukraine should be considered at a micro and a macro level. For the purpose of this paper the micro level analysis of the geopolitical situation in Ukraine will consider the place where it all began; Independence Square, Kiev. The macro level analysis will consider the country at a larger scale; the spread of protests throughout the country, the seizure of the Crimean peninsula by Russia, and the long existing political and lingual divide.
Independence square has long been a site of political and social activism, and the role it played in the most recent Ukrainian uprising was unparalleled. There were reports from multiple protesters claiming they had been living in the square for longer than a...

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