News

Obama debates arming Ukraine

As tensions continue in Ukraine after more than a year of revolution and Russian involvement, President Barack Obama is considering many courses of action, including sending lethal defensive arms to Ukraine.

Ukraine has experienced political difficulties for some time. Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, seen by many Ukrainians as the Russians’ puppet, avoided signing a deal that would associate Ukraine more closely with the European Union (EU) and instead made many economic choices sympathetic to Russia’s interests.

“Our president sold our country,” said sophomore Arty Pavlov. Pavlov is from Ukraine and, though he was in the U.S. for the bulk of the trouble, said he still felt the effects.

Protests began in November of 2013, escalating as Yanukovych more closely associated himself with Russian president Vladimir Putin. By February of 2014, protesters had stormed government buildings, calling for Yanukovych’s immediate resignation, while police action, anti-protest laws and heightened fervor from protesters created a violent situation.

By the end of that month Yanukovych had fled, and throughout March Putin began sending troops to “protect Russian interests” in Ukraine, particularly in the region of Crimea, according to the BBC.

“Russia used our revolution to invade, to ‘protect’ their citizens,” Pavlov said. “They started calling our new government Nazis and terrorists, said our new leaders were insane.”

As hostilities between Ukraine and Russia have increased, Ukraine has suffered gas scarcities, forced blackouts, and increased prices on food and other necessities.

“This war ruined our economy,” Pavlov said. “It’s basically just what Russia wanted to do.”

Obama has conversed with EU leaders about possibilities of involvement. German chancellor Angela Merkel remains staunchly opposed to direct military involvement in Ukraine, and Obama is considering many options in addition to lethal force, according to the BBC.

“I think the most important thing is that we may be seeing the return to a multi-power world,” said Preston Jones, associate professor of history at John Brown University. “After the unraveling of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was one global power, the U.S. But the American people are tired of being global policemen.”

Jones predicted that Vladimir Putin will try to acquire more power in Eastern Europe.

“President Obama is a ruminating intellectual. Putin is a cynical, old style dictator,” Jones said. “Such a toe-to-toe scrap usually goes to the dictator.”

Pavlov thinks that it’s too late for other world powers to get involved.

“Poland and Belarus—they helped us even though they depend on Russia,” Pavlov said. “[Other countries] are either afraid or they don’t want to make relationships worse with Russia. Now it’s useless.”