V&V Oversimplified Explanation Theater: What the hell is going on in Ukraine?

A new series, where we try to give a short, easy, way-oversimplified background and history to a story that could use at least a hint of explanation, but really needs like a massive book or several.

So, what the hell is going on in Ukraine? There’s these protests, people are mad, it’s gotten violent, and at least 25 people have died just between yesterday and today.

Let’s start at the beginning:

  • Ukraine lies at the intersection of Russia’s and the European Union’s interests.
  • It also lies at the intersection of the Russian world and the European world.
  • The E.U. would like closer diplomatic, cultural and economic ties with Ukraine.
  • Russia sees Ukraine as a lost province that just needs to find its way home.
  • (There’s a ton of natural gas involved in this too.)
  • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is from the eastern part of the country, which is far closer to Russia than Europe.
  • He’s pretty much seen as wicked corrupt.
  • He was also a major figure the last time there were major protests in Ukraine.
  • In November 2013, he rejected a trade deal with the E.U.
  • And that’s when the protests began.
  • In an effort to quell the protest, parliament passes a draconian law outlawing them on January 16.
  • Doesn’t stop them, in fact, the first casualties occur just six days later.
  • As pressure mounts, on January 28, the prime minister quits and parliament annuls the anti-protest law.
  • There are about 25,000 protesters in Independence Square.
  • Yesterday, riot police attached the square, and at least 25 people died in the violence.
  • Today, the E.U. and U.S. are considering imposing sanctions.
  • Update: Lawmakers in the Lviv region (to the west bordering on Poland) have declared independence from the Yanukovych government.

Make sense? That’s what I thought.

This has been the first installment of V&V Oversimplified Explanation Theater.


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