The crisis in the Ukraine continues to grow even more pressing as the country moves toward solidifying their new democratic government. What began as a movement of country-wide protests, after many months, evolved into violence, with a culmination in calls for and the eventual ouster of the president Viktor Yanukovych by its parliament.
At the heart of this issue is the reluctance of Russia to accept that Ukraine now has a democratic government. Moreover, Russia has worked to solidify its influence by welcoming Crimea back into the fold as one of Russia’s ‘lost’ territories.
The Appeal of Crimea to Russia
Crimea provides Russia with a way to slowly overtake the rest of Ukraine, or at the very least, be able to exert various methods of pressure on the fledgling democratic nation. The interim president of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov stated that Russia is feeling threatened by the desire of Ukraine to grow as a democratic country.
Even as military forces were mobilized to protect the interests of Ukraine, including its borders, the country’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk acknowledged the very real possibility of an invasion by Soviet forces in the near future. Having control of Crimea gives Russian forces a stable place within Ukraine from which to attack.
The United States Pledges Its Support
In order to help strengthen Ukraine’s foray into democracy, the Obama administration has pledged a package of support options. The package of much needed aid that is designed to give the young democratic government a good footing to start out with has stalled in negotiations in the Senate.
On the Senate floor, Republicans, such as Senator John McCain from Arizona, reacted with disgust that his fellow Republicans are not pushing this crucial aid through.
McCain blasted Republicans for not taking the necessary steps to allow the aid Obama proposed to go to the new Ukraine government. He cited how this failure is allowing Russia’s act of aggression to stand unchallenged, something that other Republican presidents, such as Ronald Reagan, would not tolerate.
Many of the dozen or so members of the Republican party who objected to the passage of the aid package detailed their various reservations. Some, such as Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, a frequent critic of foreign aid and the policies behind it, cited concerns that sending aid to the new Ukraine government could, inadvertently, benefit Russia.
His reasoning behind this decision centers on the fact that the Ukraine government owes to Russia a debt that is estimated in the billions of dollars.
Other Concerns Voiced By Republicans
Senator John Barrasso, providing a voice for several other Republican objectors, cited reservations about the plan’s inclusion of language that does not directly affect the Ukraine.
This language includes International Monetary Fund reform measures that Republicans decided needed more debate and discussion before they could be approved.
Meanwhile, Aid is Languishing
In the meantime, an aid package that has widespread bipartisan support, and that has successfully passed the vote in the House, is not able to get to the new Ukraine government.
The proposed aid package features a number of elements that are designed to put democracy on the map in the Ukraine. These include sanctions against Russia in an effort to protect democracy, funding for security forces, aid for initiatives that are aimed at fostering democracy and loan guarantees.