As the Sochi games come to a close, a controversy that continues to engulf the region has escalated. Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, has elected to tie his nation’s economy with that of its Russian neighbour—a move that critics argue positions Ukraine under Vladimir Putin’s ever expanding influence. Protests continue to surge throughout the country, as the $15-billion bailout from Russia awoke a national consciousness that’s grown tired of suffering at the hands of an oppressive leadership.
A blogger for the New Yorker has posited some analysis of the Ukraine’s predicament. Such sources propose that Ukraine has, additionally, long been victimized by its location, one marked by a cultural divide separating the mostly liberal, European-minded on the west and their federalist counterparts on the east. While ridding itself of the former Soviet Union’s presence has long been on the nation’s political agenda, being landlocked by a growing European Union on one side, with a massive former Empire on the other, has produced tumultuous circumstances.
This ideological divide, along with its undesirable geographical position, has made Ukraine a politically unstable region. Supplementing this instability, the legitimacy of Yanukovych’s democratically elected government has annually come into question, culminating in his imprisonment and subsequent controversial release.
The call for independence, say analysts, has catalyzed the organization of anti-government protests, a collective maneuver that has frequently been met with violence from law enforcement services. Hundreds have died and many more have been injured, sparking international attention and an ensuing call for foreign aid. What’s more, activists supporting Vitali Klitschko’s opposition party were imprisoned, as governmental executives attempt to put an abrupt end to the three-month standoff. In order to maintain its reputation as a nation known for advocating international peace, Canada has granted activists non-lethal provisions to aid their cause.
Canada has elected to support Ukraine’s aspirations to achieve the democratic freedoms it’s been stripped of. Canada will provide medical care and equipment through a contribution to the International Renaissance Foundation, as diplomatic attempts at reaching a solution have failed.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird released a statement Feb. 14, saying, “Canada strongly supports the Ukrainian people in their fight for a free and independent Ukraine.”
However, Ukrainian government authorities released a number of imprisoned activists last week, granting them full amnesty. Baird commended this action, asserting the Canadian government’s determination to welcome a conclusion to the ongoing crisis; “We call on the Ukrainian government to work with the opposition and protestors to respond to the legitimate calls of the Ukrainian people for true democracy, including full amnesty for the protestors.”
These statements reaffirm Canada’s commitment to international peacekeeping, an institution that has arguably become emblematic of this nation’s progressive identity. While the amount of support from Canada has yet to be determined, the provisions will strive toward mobilizing an activist group that holds the power to change the future of Ukraine for the better.