In November 2013, demonstrations were formed in Ukraine’s Kiev square known as the Euromaidan. Not since 2004 when then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s decided not to sign the European Union’s historic free trade agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, have Ukrainians protested in the streets.
On Nov. 25, Russia reportedly fired on two Ukrainian naval ships and rammed a third vessel in the Black Sea, seizing the ships, claiming they illegally entered its territorial waters. Ukraine responded internally by declaring martial law in the region for 30 days as a response to Moscow’s “act of aggression”.
“As a Ukrainian-American, I am very upset and angry that the worldwide community turns a blind-eye and a deaf ear to the plight of Ukraine; while bowing down to Russia and oligarch Putin,” said Nancy Peterson, a New Jersey resident.
“How many times does Ukraine have to defend their borders; their physical safety; their language; their culture . . . alone. It’s very sad and disappointing that there are no visible allies for Ukraine,” she added.
Mr. Yanukovych fled Kiev in 2013 as thousands of Orange Revolution protesters supported closer relations with the EU.
The Orange Revolution and Euromaidan propelled Ukraine into the spotlight and re-ignited historical conflict with Moscow which escalated during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“The Russian Naval attack against three Ukrainian Naval vessels was a violation of the following treaties: The United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Accords, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances,” Michael P. Hrycak, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel said.
According to Voice of America, Ukraine says Russia has begun allowing some ships to enter Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, in what could be a possible sign of easing tensions.
A statement released Tuesday by Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said the Mariupol and Berdyanski ports have been partially unblocked and ships are moving through the Kerch Strait.
Despite the positive developments, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said Friday Ukraine will deploy naval vessels into the Kerch Strait in the near-future as a defensive measure against Russian occupation of the Sea of Azov.
“The Russian attack was an intentional provocation to attempt to get the Ukrainian Navy vessels to fire upon Russian ships,” Hrycak said.
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have also claimed any blockade of the Kerch Strait violates international law.
Cami Huk, a Ukrainian-American said: “I feel totally enraged, and it is obvious that the captured crews will be tortured to confess to all sorts of crimes. I expect lengthy public trials, and if indeed there is a true response from our U.S. government, there will be naysayers, who will obviate the terms of the Budapest memorandum.”
“As a lifelong Democrat, I am dismayed by Obama’s weak stance in the beginning, which led to the death of 10,000 Ukrainian lives and more victims: children, widows and parents. I believe in a loving God, but today I call out and can’t hear him,” she continued.
[New York Times] [NBC News] [AP via Military.com] [CNN] [Photo courtesy EVGENIY MALOLETKA/AP via Wall Street Journal]