The battle for Ukraine

Published: March 9, 2014
The writer has a master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at

The writer has a master’s degree in conflict-resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at

As the struggle over Ukraine’s future continues, leaders have their own perceptions of the events unfolding. Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president, fled to Russia after a warrant for his arrest was issued for the ‘mass killings of civilians’. Russia believes that Viktor Yanukovych is still the elected leader, and according to the Russian envoy to the UN, Ukraine’s new government is illegitimate since it’s an ‘armed takeover by radical extremists’. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s view is that it still has a legitimate interim government and the elections scheduled for May 25 should be given a chance. The US has declared that Yanukovych is no longer in power since he fled the country and was subsequently voted out of office by the Ukrainian parliament.

Russia continues to claim that it hasn’t sent any troops into Ukraine and that the troops currently barring Ukrainian forces from entering the military bases were local ‘self-defence teams’. Ukraine has accused Russia of sending warships and cargo planes to deploy 16,000 troops into Crimea. The US backs that claim and says that Russia has around 6,000 ground and naval forces in the region and these forces have ‘complete operational control of the Crimean Peninsula’. It blames Russia’s aggressiveness on its declining influence over Ukraine and Crimea. The Crimean parliament, however, has announced its intention to become part of Russia and will hold a referendum soon.

Needless to say, Ukraine perceived Russia’s actions as evidence of trying to annex Crimea where the majority of the population is Russian-speaking. While warning shots have been fired, Russia insists that its parliament would only authorise the use of force if it were necessary to protect Russian citizens in the Crimean Peninsula. The Russian envoy to the UN also made it clear that the ousted Ukrainian president, Yanukovych, asked for Russian troops to intervene. Russia has a treaty with neighbouring nations, which allows it to send up to 25,000 troops in Crimea. Vladimir Putin admitted that there is no political future for Yanukovych, but he also emphasised Russia’s duty to protect people with historical, cultural and economic ties to Russia. Putin also brought up the double standards, which allowed the US to act unilaterally in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya without a UN resolution. While the Russian president has a point about the US having questionable moral grounds to stand upon, those statements are a red herring to distract from his own dependence upon the wishes of an exiled leader to justify military intervention.

Economics will certainly play a role in how this tense state of affairs plays out. The Ukrainian economy is in dire straits and according to officials, needs about $35 billion over the next couple of years to avoid default. As Russia faces sanctions for its actions against Ukraine, the $15 billion loan it promised to Ukraine is at risk. Russia has already decided to cancel the discounts it offers on natural gas supplies to Ukraine. In the meantime, the EU has offered an aid package worth $15 billion spread over two years. This is on top of the $1 billion loan guarantees offered by the US, which John Kerry presented during his visit to the country. Ultimately, it all boils down to if Ukraine is willing to end the balancing act between the EU and Russia. Will Ukraine forge an alliance with the West and possibly join the EU or will it continue to exist under Russia’s shadow?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Parvez
    Mar 10, 2014 - 12:11AM

    I thought you would venture to predict how this would play out…….but apparently not.
    Interesting read all the same.


  • Mar 10, 2014 - 1:04AM

    Do we really want a war with Russia? What bussiness if ours is it to interfere in Russia’s sphere of influence? Under the guise of restoring the U.S. reputation, this administration has only managed to cause more chaos. They’ve quite literally “set the world on fire.” It’s almost as if they are doing this deliberately.


  • Paul Migel
    Mar 10, 2014 - 1:15AM

    Are we in the West, fully supporting our leaders decision regarding Ukraine. I think, the word is no. It would be interesting to see what a poll, if taken, would say.

    The comments that I have been hearing, our leaders embarrassed Mr. Putin and the Russian People by not showing up at the Olympics because of Mr. Putin’s law regarding gays. Most believe, it was a diversion to get the ball rolling on Ukraine.

    It is no secret, the west is pushing Russia into a corner and could be accused for adventurism. It is time to start thinking a civil war is a strong potential in Ukraine and that we better head this off.

    A frustrated Russia is a dangerous advisory. History has proven time and time again this is true. It is time to cut Mr. Putin some slack and congratulate he and the Russian People for a tremendous job regarding the Olympics and sit down and discuss Ukraine like sensible people.

    A strong economic Ukraine and Russia is what we should be encouraging and not division. Sooner or later the Russia people will accept human rights and globalization without being bullied. Maybe then without western interference they will feel secure and stop making stupid mistakes. Henry the man (Former Secretary of State) said it the way it is, both are at fault.


  • lalai
    Mar 10, 2014 - 3:09AM

    The rising star is up against the sinking ship in Ukraine.


  • Kolsat
    Mar 10, 2014 - 3:38AM

    It the Tactic of Western nations under the guise of peace to encircle Russia and China by NATO forces. The US and Britain have lost their right to lecture the world when they invaded Iraq. These Western nations goaded Ukrainins to go against Russia. They have over thrown their President. Is this not an illegal act? Ukraine is a democratic country and could have removed Yanukovich by forcing him to hold fresh elections. Russia had promised Ukraine a huge loan to tide over their difficulties. What has West promised very little. Ukrainians will realise they have to fight their way out of economic morass they find themselves in. I wish them luck.


  • Nagpuri
    Mar 10, 2014 - 6:45AM

    Can you please stop these repot pieces, that too regurgating old facts, masquerading as opinion pieces?


  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 10, 2014 - 9:24AM

    It is refreshing to read someone like you spell out the whole basic scenario of what is happening in the Ukraine in so few words. I could not improve upon your missive, except to point out the latest news. Apparently Blackwater were involved, and everything is falling into place in regard to the Western Provocateurs coup d’ etat.


  • Feroz
    Mar 10, 2014 - 12:01PM

    Why are Russia and USA trying to gain influence over Ukraine and aiding bloodshed there ? There is nothing in Ukraine to fight over — Oil, gold, platinum or uranium. The Economy there is in such shambles to make it a basket case. Fights are often about Assets, never seen a battle to take over liabilities. Insanity at its best !


  • Zinnia
    Mar 10, 2014 - 12:09PM

    Ukraine exemplifies a fight between two large elephants. No one is thinking of what the Ukrainians want. Its all about economic clout and oil pipelines. The potential of Ukrainian industry, agriculture and economy in general is turning out to be its bane. Time for social media of Ukraine to get active and Ukrainians to have one voice. While on topic of elephants, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia quartet are next to become the fodder…


  • SAK
    Mar 10, 2014 - 12:57PM

    Isn’t stating the obvious. Just wrting the different events and facts all available on international media in bit an pieces. Why not write an article that anaylitacaly describes the situation or give predictions or even few possible solutions.


  • Anon
    Mar 10, 2014 - 1:01PM

    Will Ukraine forge an alliance with the West and possibly join the EU or will it continue to exist under Russia’s shadow?

    Interesting choice of words… siding with the West is “forge an alliance”, siding with Russia is “exist under … shadow”.

    I guess this is what you learn when you get your Masters degrees in California


  • Nauman Ghauri
    Mar 10, 2014 - 2:06PM

    Beneath this apparent light of the happenings, what is important to consider is that who can afford to hold / back off, EU or Russia!

    Over exhausted forces,
    lost moral,
    no recent victory to motivate,
    stumbling economies,
    suiciding soldiers,
    lost credibility in allies,
    lost credibility in the world
    and on top of that!!!
    and Obama’s Policies….Lolz!

    Well played Putin!


  • Naseeruddin
    Mar 10, 2014 - 2:44PM

    No one can conquer another country by force and who so claim to be winer is actually loser. Respect the other countries boundaries. Mr Putin credibility will be erosion in this conflict. His dreams will not fulfill to control over assets of the Ukrain.


  • Lolz
    Mar 10, 2014 - 4:12PM

    @Anon: hahaha Bulls Eye.. Recommend

  • cruiser
    Mar 10, 2014 - 11:22PM

    Juvenile writing at its best. An opinion piece has been reduced to the summarisation of two weeks of tidbits of news about ukraine without putting forward one’s own thoughts and how the power game shall affect the country and its immediate region in the months and years to come with regard to U.S. and Russia’s game in central asia and Afghanistan,where of late, they(U.S. and Russia) seemed to have a convergence of interests.


  • Parvez
    Mar 11, 2014 - 12:16AM

    @Feroz: Always think your comments are measured and balanced. On this one suggest a quick Google search on Ukraine – its size, location, agricultural potential, and gas pipelines that run through it etc. Possibly both US and Russia see much more in the Ukraine than what meets the eye.


  • Faraz
    Mar 11, 2014 - 6:24PM

    “Will Ukraine forge an alliance with the West and possibly join the EU or will it continue to exist under Russia’s shadow?”
    That m’lady is the question that this column was supposed to at least analyze if not answer…..


  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 11, 2014 - 7:25PM

    Dear Faraz,
    Without seriously disagreeing with you I consider that with the available data Ms Khan’s analysis was reasonable. The big question facing Ukraine is, “what is the answer”. With all the idiot thugs, at the top-end-of-town in the various capitol cities plotting away, I think the outcome is anybody’s guess.Recommend

  • omar anis
    Mar 13, 2014 - 11:58AM

    Copy paste comes to mind, nothing new, nor the writer’s perspective.


  • omar anis
    Mar 13, 2014 - 12:07PM

    why is no one even considering the wish of the Cremian people and there parliament?


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