News & Social: The Russia, Ukraine Conflict

So if you’ve opened up the newspaper (or more likely, read the news online) you have probably come across an article about the recent hulabaloo in Russia. If you didn’t catch the drama as it unfolded, you may be scratching your head as to what is happening. There’s a huge amount of analysis and not an easy way to get an ‘at a glance’ view of the situation. That’s why I spent a lot of time learning about this newsworthy story and will present you what’s going on in simple terms.

So what’s the deal?

Russia is putting pressure on the Ukraine, Russia’s neighboring country. Why? Because Russia wants to claim a region within the Ukraine named Crimea- specifically a military port, Sevastapol.

Why the problem now?

The problem arises because Viktor Yanukovych, the former prime minister of the Ukraine, has recently been removed from his position by an overwhelming vote by the Ukraine Parliament. On top of this, he was also put on trial for mass murder and many other bad things. The guy is a jerk. So, he got exiled to Russia. The thing is, despite all his wrongdoings, he may have been the only person preventing Putin and the whole might of Mother Russia and their military from putting smack down on the Ukraine.

Yanukovych was seen as a pro-Russia politician- some even say he was a political puppet for Russia. With him ousted, Putin wants to be assured that Russia will take back control of Crimea (it was given to the Ukraine by Kruschiev in the 1950’s).

Why are they using force?

Well, aside from the loss of Yanukovych, it appears Russia is worried that their longstanding deal with the Ukraine might fall through- and it wasn’t a very good deal to begin with. You see, Russia has been essentially renting the military port of Sebastapol since it’s been under the Ukraine’s control. Since the military and industrial port started, Russia has pumped upwards of 100 billion dollars in development. That’s a lot of money, and the idea that they might lose what they consider an essential investment could pose a big problem, especially if an, ‘I don’t like Russia’ figurehead is elected. Not only that, but a lot of income Russia receives comes from the Ukraine, including their oil pipelines.

Putin claims that the annexing of Crimea will not devolve into war, which is the biggest reason why other nations are not directly intervening.

Won’t someone stop them?

Ah, there’s the rub. See, normally the UN would step in and try to provide aid to the Ukraine. But Russia has a permanent seat on the UN, specifically the UN Security Council – the group that decides where and when the UN can send troops. Naturally, Russia vetoes any attempt that the UN poses to intervene, essentially putting it on lock. Recently, Obama has asked that Russia be removed from the Security Council because of this, but as of writing this- they’re still not acting.

Why can’t America do something about it?

Well, we’re trying but it’s tricky. Russia’s first opponents of this aggression should be the EU, as they are closer and will be dealing with the repercussions before us. So the US probably won’t be doing anything drastic until the rest of Europe gives the ‘go-ahead’. That being said, the first thing that the US (and probably the rest of the world) will do is put sanctions on Russia. As of now, Obama has stated that the US will not be taking part in the G8 summit in Sochi this year, which is a start. So far, these are some of the only concrete sanctions that have been stated, but as the story develops, more are sure to be put upon Russia.

Wow, that’s not that bad for a punishment…

I know. Like I said, international politics is a tricky business. Russia is just seeing how much they can get away with before anyone makes it an issue (similar to Germany taking the Rhineland in WW2). This method of appeasement will hopefully work. And even though Putin is blatantly lying and detaining people who oppose him, it might just be some international damage control. Within the Ukraine there is civil unrest, but it is unlikely that they could fight off Russia if relations devolved.

Either way, this story has gotten huge. So huge in fact that we decided to see what the Internet is saying about this. Here are some of the biggest posts about this topic being spread online.

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One viral (and quite serious) tweet comes from Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. Here he is speaking out about applying some hard-hitting sanctions on Russia financially. Although no specific ways are given, this seems like the most aggressive way to hit Russia without using actual force.

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Another Tweeter, Chris Morris, a BBC News correspondent provided a more specific way to hit Russia, although less lofty than hard economic restrictions.

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CNN International shows why economic sanctions might be difficult to resolve. As Russia supplies 30% of the EU’s  gas, most of which runs through the Ukraine, putting restrictions might come back to hurt Europe as a whole.

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 People even use this as an opportunity to be light. With one Twitter account finding a way to sneak in some 90’s sitcom humor from the hit show Seinfeld.

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And some still find a way to make this an Anti-US issue, such as this photo on Instagram. I have no idea how this was thought up. But apparently America has to be directly involved in everything or else we look weak.

Either way, if you’re interested in learning more about this story, I suggest following the live updater on Reddit.  Also, using a social media monitoring tool can give you some interesting insight into what people think about this very complicated issue.

NOTE: Some of this may be inaccurate as new information develops. This is just my best attempt at surmising a very complicated issue. I am not a historian.