Crisis in Ukraine

This item appears on page 19 of the April 2014 issue.

The US State Department advises deferring travel to Ukraine, particularly to the east and south and the capital city of Kyiv (Kiev). 

In Kyiv, protests began on Nov. 21, 2013, following the government’s announcement that it was suspending plans to sign an association agreement with the European Union. On Nov. 30, police severely injured several demonstrators in an attempt to remove them from Independence Square. Protesters then resolved to hold the square and adjacent buildings. 

On Jan. 22, two protesters died in clashes with police. On Feb. 18, violence escalated sharply. Eighteen people were killed, including seven policemen, and hundreds were injured. 

On Feb. 22, President Yanukovych and many senior officials departed the capital. Parliament subsequently voted to remove them from office and create a new government.

The country remains ideologically split. The Ministry of Interior and the armed forces, police and city administrations in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine, especially in central and western Ukraine, issued statements supporting the new government. Protesters in eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian-administered Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the majority of whom are ethnically Russian, declared their support for Yanuko­vych. (Sevastapol, Crimea, is home to Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet.)

At press time, the number of people killed in clashes had reached 88; the interim government had scheduled elections for May, and large crowds remained in the Kyiv square. 

Most alarmingly, pro-Yanukovych groups had seized airports in Crimea as well as government buildings in the state capital, Simferopol, and Russia’s Black Sea fleet commander had given an ultimatum to Ukraine to surrender its armed forces in Crimea or face an assault. Moscow claimed it is protecting civilians there from ultranationalist threats.