In just four months after Vilnius EU Summit people of Ukraine changed it all. Waiving Ukrainian, EU, Georgian, white and red Belorussian flags, the lieutenants of Maidan each day in the smoke and fire were tweeting and posting to the world community that this time there is no return for Ukraine to status ante. Maidan was full of voices, heavier than stones, claiming Ukraine will not tolerate corrupted elites working for the interest of their own or their lords.
At the epicentre of events, within three heated days of four months in cold, Ukraine has felt heaviest losses of its people since the collapse of Soviet Union. On February 18 to February 20, nearly 100 protesters have been ferociously killed by snipers in the Independence Square and its surroundings.
It was Ukraine’s Parliament, which kept working in the heaviest hours for the nation and mobilising an unprecedented support of all major parties. With mediation of international partners it has returned the Constitution of 2004, elected new speaker and impeached its President, who exactly in at this darkest moment was fleeing to Russia he owed to.
The Parliament of Ukraine went further and set a date for new elections of 25 May 2014, which will be symbolically held the same day as elections to the European Parliament. It will be the date, which will open the door to a new generation of politicians understanding the necessity of reforms for more prosperous Ukraine.
As we know this was not the end of story and shortly new challenges were to come, making Ukraine’s future important not only to its people, but also to an international order, which was gravely challenged.
The Kremlin could not see the lustration happening and was preparing to strike back. Next day after 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi were closed, the pro-Kremlin protests have started in Crimea an autonomous region of Ukraine. In a matter of days after Putin’s orders the military was mobilised in western Russia and put on high alert. The Crimean Parliament and its government offices were seized. Russian flags were raised over the buildings in Simferopol. Russian unmarked troops started their patrolling around the airport, air control and other buildings, letting transport planes and helicopters to cross Ukraine’s borders unspottedly by radars. Coast guard vessels were blocked by Russian ships and movements of armoured personnel carriers have intensified on the roads of all over Crimea. Ukraine’s military bases were surrounded and Ukrainian solders were held as hostages. The Kremlin indeed drew lessons from invasion into Georgia. And Ukraine just in a few days lost its neighbour.
World has been shocked by such speed and evasive tactics by Russian authorities. G7, NATO, UN, European Council met in emergency sessions, condemned Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, called Russia to deescalate, warned with sanctions. However, the Kremlin was advancing deeper into Crimea, blocking TV stations, mobilising squads for a hunt of journalists, harassing ordinary people in the streets or using a provocative action against Ukraine’s soldiers barricaded in their bases. This time Ukraine was not saved from casualties either. A Ukraine soldier was killed, a member of Tatar community tortured.
Ukraine was showing wisdom not to be involved into provocations. Russian military, on contrary, was losing temper, got disorganised, tried to invade Kherson region in main Ukraine, then after vetoing UN Security Council resolution retreated from the mainland. By pointing a barrel, it has arranged Crimea’s vote to join Russia, voted for its annexation and officially called for a selective new world order.
Ukraine finally stood up united for a path to progress, while Russia’s elite lost his friends and took a ruinous turn to self-deception and extremism. Russia’s policy made the world community to understand that today, more than ever, we need to defend the values of sovereign democracies, rule of law and respect for human rights. The Kremlin’s actions made the world community to turn against Russia and to defend Ukraine.
Today, on 21 March 2014, encapsulating four months of bravery in barricades of Maidan, Ukraine has signed with EU an Association Agreement and made an irreversible step forward. Ukraine’s people, marked by a Heavenly Hundred of fallen for freedom and by holding out against a military invasion, once again proved their unbreakable free spirit salted in a thousand years of history. By its action Ukraine has proved its place in the European family and deserved an EU membership perspective.