“Someone should tell Putin he is not having it with us,” said Anna Musiyenko, a Ukrainian and a sophomore communication arts major.
While the past week has become increasingly intense, the conflict in Ukraine heated up when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an economic agreement with the European Union (EU). This ignored popular Ukrainian views of economic reform and was a clear indication of a growing alliance between Russia and the Ukrainian government.
Protests in opposition of Yanukovych’s decision immediately began. After aggressive action took place between the Ukrainian government and protestors, Yanukovych fled to Russia and a government of opposition leaders was put in place.
“Yanukovych was benefiting financially and really cozied up to the Russians,” said Scott Waalkes, professor of international politics. “It was quite corrupt, actually. The people were fed up.”
Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, responded immediately. With the possibility of losing its political influence over Ukraine, Russia was quick to take action.
The Russian military recently invaded the Ukraine province of Crimea and its naval bases and has received government approval to send in more troops into Ukraine.
Fear that Putin will not stop at Crimea is escalating. It is possible that Russia, with its ready and sizable army, will push farther into parts of eastern Ukraine.
Waalkes had his own prediction of what will happen next.
“I think the Crimean peninsula will stay Russian,” Waalkes said. “The West will be paying close attention to the Ukraine now, and I think NATO is also very much on alert and will be keeping an eye on what Russia is doing and try to deter them from going too far.”
Concern for the eastern borders remains, something both Musiyenko and Vladyslav Dyenyezhka, a Ukrainian and a sophomore business administration major, are worried about. Musiyenko keeps constant contact with her family members, who live in eastern Ukraine, not far from the border of Russia.
“I check the news about five times a day and talk to my family as much as I can, especially with how things are in Crimea,” said Musiyenko. “I’m just hoping and praying that nothing too serious happens, but I’m afraid something will. It’s very sad that I’m losing part of my country.”
Dyenyezhka’s family is in a similar situation.
“I’m worried about my family, because there’s really bad stuff going on, and they live on the border of Russia,” Dyenyezhka said. “They’re right there if something happens.”
Both students have hopes for some kind of resolution. In support of Ukraine and its people, the U.S. and EU have put forth visa bans and asset freezes on some of Putin’s allies; however, imposing more sanctions on Russia seems unlikely, as most of Europe is heavily involved in trade with the country.
“I’m kind of shocked at how quickly these things unfold,” Waalkes said. “And for those of us that study history, it feels like history is almost repeating itself. It reminds us of things that happened in the past.”
Dyenyezhka was surprised himself.
“The problem is that we’ve had kind of a friendship with Russia all of this time, and we really didn’t expect this to happen,” Dyenyezhka said.
The Flash Forum on the Ukrainian and Russian conflict on March 20 served as a reminder for students and provided important information on what exactly is taking place overseas.
Dyenyezhka hopes students take note of all that the forum touched on.
“I just want Malone students to realize that there is a serious situation going on in the world outside of local conflict or in their neighborhoods,” Dyenyezhka said. “It matters.”
Rachel Pelletier is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.