(WMOT) Ukraine has been in conflict since 2014, when President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country, and Russian troops annexed the Crimea region. Fighting has been off-and-on ever since, with Russian-armed separatists in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbass fighting against pro-government forces. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates over 9,600 people have been killed in the violence, and 1.1 million Ukrainians have become migrants or refugees.
Volodymyr Dubovyk, the director of the Center of International Relations at Odessa National University in Ukraine, told KGOU’s World Views the conflict cannot be looked at strictly as a civil war.
“In many ways it's a civil war by some formal signs of it when you actually have one group of Ukrainians shooting at another,” Dubovyk said. “But at the same time it's not a civil war because it wouldn't be happening without the intervention of one major external player, being the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine never fought a war of liberation when it gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Now, Duboyvk says Russian leader Vladimir Putin is trying to take back pieces of land and keep Ukraine on a short leash.
“Some experts actually call it a Ukrainian-Soviet war, meaning that Ukraine is trying to break away from that cycle with both Soviet corruption and authoritarian models of leadership,” Dubovyk said.
Ukraine and Russia have many historical and cultural ties. Following independence, Dubovyk says many Ukrainians wanted their country to have a close relationship with Russia and remain in Moscow’s sphere of influence. However, Putin’s recent actions have destroyed that prospect.
“It's not just about the political elite or the government of Ukraine, it's about the public which turned decisively anti-Russia because of this recent aggression in Crimea and ongoing aggressions in Donbass,” Dubovyk said.
In Dubovyk’s view, Ukraine has only one option now – to look to the West for support. But there are major hurdles. […]
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