Ukraine: Europe’s Syria?

Ramyar Hassani

By Ramyar Hassani:

On 21st November 21, 2013 president Viktor Yanukovych announced that Ukraine had suspended a trade pact and political association agreement between Ukraine and the EU which strengthened ties with the European Union and was instead seeking closer cooperation with Moscow. Following this announcement, the Ukrainian opposition expressed displeasure and peaceful protests – part of participating in the democratic process in any country – began.

Less than a week later, on 30th November, a group of activists and protestors were beaten brutally with truncheons and their bloody images spread quickly and resulted in a mass protest on 1st December by around 300,000 Ukrainians. Then there were disappearances and the intimidation of protestors by pro-Russian groups acting with governmental support – for instance the opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov was kidnapped for about 10 days, and he returned badly beaten with his right ear partly cut off.

Ukrainian police sniper takes aim (Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

Ukrainian police sniper takes aim (Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

The bloody protests have escalated this week with the number of deaths increasing swiftly. The government and, at the head of it, the president are trying to suppress the protestors as much as they can and not paying attention to the public demands on the streets. About three weeks after the first protest, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds. The Russian president had met Viktor Yanukovych one week before the 21st November announcement.

The Russian role in the conflict is obvious and it is clear to almost everyone that Russia’s influence in any conflict in any other country, whether middle-eastern or not, has resulted in bloodshed and horrific consequences. This same support for the Ukrainian regime to suppress civilians and violate democracy was applied in Libya and is taking place right now in Syria in terms of supporting Bashar Assad’s regime.

The Ukrainian regime is the same as other dictatorships such as the Syrian one. It has opened fire on protestors and used live ammunition on the streets, causing a mounting death toll of dozens, with some public places such as the Mikhailovsky monastery becoming field hospitals to give treatment to the wounded protestors, provided by volunteers.

So far the protestors have responded with handmade molotov cocktails in beer bottles and the opposition has not started an armed clash with the regime forces yet; but the European Union has decided to impose sanctions on those officials involved in killing the protestors. The signs are alarming and the situation is not just some normal protests but more likely a revolution as the protestors are gathered in independence square and chanting slogans demanding the resignation of the president.

Surely what the Ukrainian opposition and protestors need is the urgent support of the international community, especially the European Union, and not a repetition of the Syrian catastrophe, even though it is a different continent, with some differences in detail. The Syrian experience makes it easier for the international community to predict the long-term consequences of a continuation of the conflict in the Ukraine.

To sum up, the only way to stop Russia’s killing machine this time and save thousands of civilians from the lethal consequences of a civil war, is through urgent and serious steps – including intervention – by the international community, especially the European Union, in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Otherwise, if the clashes continue and deepen, the conflict will become out of control or at least very hard to heal.

Copyright © 2013

2 Responses to Ukraine: Europe’s Syria?
  1. Diederik Zwager
    February 21, 2014 | 08:26

    No it is not “Europe’s Syria”, because religion plays no role in this conflict.

  2. Kuvan Bamarny
    February 21, 2014 | 08:52

    Russia’or in another words Slavic people are very proud about their own history culture ,industry economy so does about their own victories in wars and achievements in different scientific fields and contribution to the development of the the life and in general the world .

    Russia not only has influence in its neighboring countries especially the former soviet union colonies, but also has the absolute control over them.Russia can be very ruthless and cruel if you step on its toe.

    It would be a very risky and dangerous move for any countries that surrounded Russia to ally themselves with NATO or EU as Russia would perceive that as a besiege ,and a threat to their security at their own door .Georgia is one example and lesson to others.However I personally believe that nothing comes without a price . If you want to achieve a dream or a goal you have to be prepared for sacrifices ,costs and prices.

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