By Elle Woods
On Monday, March 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a “sovereign and independent nation.” Crimea, a historically highly-contested province that has been governed by both Russia and Ukraine, voted on Sunday in a democratic referendum to secede from Ukraine. As Crimea formally requests a Russian annexation, a question remains as to whether Ukraine will retaliate and attempt to regain Crimea.
According to a Ukrainian student at Shorter, Victoria Morokhovets, Ukraine “will never accept [the Crimean] vote” because it views the process as corrupt; indeed, widespread protest against the Crimean secession has arisen in Ukraine. However, she continues, “I believe that the best way for this situation to be resolved is by discussion and agreements instead of war.”
While the Crimean situation has distracted many from the events in Ukraine, the violent protests and revolts of the past two months resulted in revolution. Former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, was forcibly removed from office by pro-Western revolutionaries. A large part of this uprising can be expained economically. Ukraine was broke, in debt and trying to manage skyrocketing unemployment. In the midst of drawn-out negotiations to join the European Union, Yanukovych began dealing with Russia for an immediate-aid treaty. Upset with Yanukovych’s apparent corruption and seeming dismissal of the people’s wishes, a faction of Ukrainians rose up in violent protest.
The people were protesting an action they disagreed with, yet when President Yanukovych attempted compromise, they refused to negotiate and demanded the total absolution of the existing government. In the end, Parliament forcibly removed President Yanukovych from office and instituted a tentative new form of government. The ultimate structure or nature of the emerging government remains to be seen.
Why is this Ukrainian and Crimean situation relevant to us? According to Dr. Barsha Pickell, chair of the political science department, “We are part of a global community and what happens in the world affects us. We can no longer afford to be ignorant about world events.” This generation tends to live in its own bubble and is more interested with the latest tweet in their vitual world than with the very real events that are sparking change in the global world. Too often, we turn a blind eye to the events occurring around us, feeling secure within the social bubble we’ve created. We claim to be individuals intent on “changing the world,” yet are unaware of the global changes already occurring.
This is reality. It is the reality of the people of Ukraine, Crimea and Russia, and it’s no less a reality for us. Widespread violence and acts of terror plague the world. Just because we do not experience such violent protests in the United States does not make those of Ukraine, Egypt, Venezuela, Libya and Syria unimportant. On the contrary, the fact that such widespread, violent protests are occurring repeatedly should raise our awareness of current global issues and their effect on us.
A large sense of apathy regarding government and current events has strangled this nation’s populace. In our own nation, how are we going to thoughtfully engage issues of our time if we are unaware of those very issues? The world is changing around us. It always does. As of today, the map has yet again begun to morph with the emergence of a new Crimean nation and a new Ukrainian government. Likewise, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Venezuela are changing and are certain to have an eventual if not immediate effect on our world here in the USA.
It will be the world we and our children live in, whether we care to understand it or not.