By Alexia Vlahos
On February 22, the Russian Army invaded Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the invasion and claimed that the “local self-defense forces” were mistaken as Russian soldiers. Allegations from Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Olexander Motsyk, disagrees with Vladimir Putin, saying, “The fact is, these are Russian forces. And they participate in toppling local government in Crimea.” The Crimean Parliament’s sentiments are if the request to join the Russian federation is granted, Crimean citizens could vote on March 16, 2014.
Ukraine is in a deep hole of debt reaching about $35 billion that has to be paid in the next two years to avoid default. Recently Ukraine has had protests that have escalated in violence which led to the imprisonment of President Viktor Yanukovych and the government is being led by an interim president. Along with all this turmoil Crimea created its own government and asked the President Vladimir Putin “to start the procedure” of reuniting Crimea with Russia. The Ukrainian government sees the separation of Crimea as a violation of their constitution.
A week ago Russia promised $15 billion in loans to Ukraine with the condition that Ukraine pledge their loyalty to Moscow. In opposition to the Russian’s involvement, 2 days ago the European Union offered $15 billion and the United States offered $1 billion in loan guarantees.
Ukraine was a country that became independent after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Despite their independence, the Ukraine government was led by a Pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukraine has had economic, social and political tensions with citizens desiring a pro-Russian government and others desiring a pro-European government. Ukraine used to be known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union because they had a huge supply of wheat. Crimea is a peninsula in the southern region of Ukraine. Crimea is pro-Russia and the population is 80% Russian descent.