Tebben Gill Lopez/ The Mirror

Just two weeks ago, the Maidan square in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was a bloody, burning center of revolution. Authorities shot at hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, leaving a hundred people dead and thousands of others missing, wounded, maimed or beaten senseless. Entryways of hotels and businesses surrounding the square served as morgues and hospitals, carpeted with bloodstained sheets covering dead bodies.

In a matter of hours, a four-month-long peaceful protest capsized into the bloodiest clash that Ukraine has seen since World War II.

In November 2013, Ukrainians from across the country swarmed their capital to peacefully demand democratic reforms and transparency in their corrupt government. Former President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly backed out of signing a trade cooperation agreement with the European Union which would have effectively begun mending Ukraine’s collapsing economy and westernizing a country littered with a Soviet past.

The reason Yanukovych bailed rests with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who craftily dangled a $15 billion loan in front of his Ukrainian puppet. This was not simply an act of benevolence from big brother Russia; it was a desperate measure to ensure Ukraine remained within Putin’s asphyxiating imperialistic grip.

But after months of demonstrations, the Maidan protesters successfully removed Yanukovych from his position as the country’s “president.” I use that term loosely – dictator is much more representative of his past political decisions. He now appears to be seeking asylum in Russia.

Now the Maidan rests peacefully, puffs of smoke from fires of those protesters reluctant to leave the battleground rise above the broken city. Barricades of tires, bed frames, car parts and other debris that prevented armed authorities from advancing into the crowds of protesters remain intact, grim reminders of the beatings, shootings and killings.

Each day thousands of citizens lay flowers and light candles on these now-makeshift memorials in honor of those who stood day and night in below-freezing temperatures and those who died defending their country from their tyrannical government.

However, Ukrainians do need to be concerned about another villain, Vladimir Putin, who now stands behind an armed military assault on Ukrainian territory.

With all eyes on Russia during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Putin could not have militarily intervened to crush the simultaneously occurring Maidan protests.

For 17 days, Putin was probably squirming to take action because a mere four days after the closing ceremonies, Russian troops invaded Crimea, the southernmost region of Ukraine, a peninsula whose coast hugs the Black Sea.

Putin and his propaganda would have you believe that the 16,000 troops were deployed to protect the Russian population living in Crimea, which he claimed had been targeted with physical acts of violence by hordes of radical Ukrainians flocking to the region.

Ironically enough, not a single act of violence against Russians in Crimea has been documented. To the contrary, it has been Russians who have been reportedly bused into Crimea from Russia to stage said demonstrations.

These twisted actions have been flooding all media platforms in an effort to depict Ukraine in a hauntingly undemocratic light. Phrases like “neo-fascist” and “neo-Nazis” describing Ukraine clog Russian media and have made their way onto Western platforms as well.

Back in reality, and at gunpoint, the Council of Ministers of Crimea was impeached and a local referendum was hastily scheduled for March 16 to decide whether Crimea would join Russia or remain Ukrainian territory.

So why is Putin toying with Ukraine? In simpler terms, what Russia wants, Russia gets. Putin is simply not going to watch Ukraine walk into the caring arms of the EU. He also will not accept Ukraine as an independent state.

So, Putin fabricated reasons to validate invading Ukraine, the initial step to annexing bits of the country – until he has it all – a nightmare for Ukrainians who just months ago were a signature away from both geopolitical and internal reformations.

Putin has a vision of a Eurasian Union, the joining of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in an EU-like federation. Here’s where the red flags must be raised: a Eurasian Union all too closely echoes the former Soviet Union, which should – and does – raise eyebrows in the 21st century.

After all, Putin is on record as stating that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest calamity of the 20th century,” and will go to great lengths to ensure Ukraine is not “lost” to the EU.

The second reason for Putin’s persistent violation of Ukraine’s democracy is quite simply that the U.S. is allowing him to do so. At this point, it is evident that Ukraine does not have the political stability to tame the beast by itself. Although there has been talk of both U.S. economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia, nothing official has been implemented.

Senator John Kerry visited the Maidan last week and President Obama had a 90-minute phone call with Putin. Since then an even larger amount of troops have marched into Crimea.

Ruslana Lyzhychko, famous initially for being a Ukrainian singer who won the Eurovision contest in 2004, is now a political hero in Ukraine, having spent sleepless nights at the Maidan among the people, boosting their morale throughout the demonstrations.

She continues to speak on behalf of Ukrainians’ frustration and concern, and sternly addressed Anglo-America to oversee Crimea’s stabilization. “We are in no need of another world war,” Lyzhychko said at a conference in Washington D.C. last week.

But as the situation stands now, the world merely continues to watch the tension escalating as Russian military units take over Ukrainian military bases. Ukrainian armed forces in Crimea thus far have been following orders and not firing at the blatant invaders.

With a dark history of oppression and dictatorship, Ukraine and its people have developed what seems to be an infinite supply of hope from which they continue to draw daily. As new Ukrainian political parties prepare their campaigns for the scheduled May 25 presidential elections, Crimea sits uncomfortably blockaded and the Ukrainian people await to see who will make the next move – the U.S. or Putin.

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