Crimea, Ukraine, Russia. What’s it all about and why are we getting involved? The UK Military are supplying Ukrainian forces with non-lethal equipment and training them in defensive tactics, but why?
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, next to Russia. The country is split between people who are Pro-Western (those who want to be part of the European Union) and Pro-Russian (those who want to ally with Russia). Since last year a force of Pro-Russian rebels, AKA “Separatists” have been fighting government forces.
Why? They want to separate from Ukraine and form a new state called “Novorussiya” (New Russia). There have been reports of Russian weapons being brought in to help the rebels.
Back in 2013 Ukraine was about to sign a trade agreement with the European Union which would lower import tax on goods between Ukraine and the EU. Ukraine’s President was Viktor Yanukovych. He is Pro-Russian and so he abandoned the agreement with Europe, and was then reported to have been getting close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. People were not happy – 800,000 Ukrainians marched in protest of this move to Russia and occupied City Hall and Independence Square in the capital city Kiev between December 2013 and February 2014.
Riots ensued when the Ukraine government responded with force and started arresting protesters. At least 88 people in Kiev were killed in 48 hours on February 20th 2014.
Crimea is a region of Ukraine that used to belong to Russia. Most of the population are of Russian descent and are therefore Pro-Russian.When the riots were happening in Kiev, unidentified Pro-Russian gunmen took over Crimea. The people of Crimea held a vote on whether become part of Russia or stay in Ukraine. 97% voted to join Russia (Whether the Pro-Russian gunmen or the alleged involvement of Russian soldiers in the area have anything to do with this decision is anyone’s guess).
Bottom Line: Crimea was annexed (added to another territory) to become part of Russia.
The Ukraine army were busy rushing to defend Crimea and the rest of the country was in chaos after Ukraine President Yanukovych fled to Russia. Pro-Russian sentiment was sweeping parts of the country.
Pro-Russian rebels took advantage of the confusion and occupied government buildings in the Eastern Ukraine cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Declaring themselves an independent state they have been fighting against government forces since.
Petro Poroshenko is the new Ukrainian President.
He is Pro-Western and signed the European Union trade agreement that started the whole saga, therefore allying himself and Ukraine firmly with Europe. Poroshenko has said he would like Ukraine to become a full member of the EU.Ukraine is still split between Pro-Western and Pro-Russian forces with almost half the country occupied by rebel forces.
Total deaths as result of the Ukraine crisis estimated at 6,000 deaths.
A ceasefire was agreed in February 2015 and has been largely respected by both sides.Many countries have condemned Russia’s role in Ukraine, and have warned of economic sanctions (actions like stopping trade with said country, in an attempt to harm the economy of that country) if Russia doesn’t pull back. However the UK’s involvement is the first time a Western nation has directly got involved with the Ukrainian military since the war began last year.