President Obama will meet today with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Washington to discuss financial assistance for Ukraine and its fragile economy as the United States and Europe prepare to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia for seizing control of Ukraine’s southern autonomous region of Crimea.
Ukraine has become a proxy battlefield and political flashpoint for competing interests in Eastern Europe between old cold war powers as Russia attempts to reclaim influence over Ukraine while Europe and the United States stand ready to offer Ukraine financial assistance and support its new pro-Western government that seeks to enact reforms in a country that has witnessed corruption and cronyism up to the highest levels of its government.
In February 2014 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power and a new pro-Western government was installed in Kiev.
Beginning in November 2013 a series of events led to Yanukovych’s removal from office.
Yanukovych rejected a pending EU trade agreement and chose instead to accept a Russian loan bailout of $ 15 billion from President Putin of Russia in a move that was widely viewed as building closer ties with Moscow.
Later, Russia purchased Ukrainian bonds worth $3 billion.
After turning his back away from Europe and towards Moscow, many Ukrainians became were furious, especially in western Ukraine which has more support for the EU and western political models.
Protests and the occupation of Kiev’s Independence Square occurred while the rest of the world watched.
Clashes between protesters and police forces led to the deaths of over 70 Ukrainian protesters amid calls for Yanukovych to be removed from his office.
Ultimately Yanukovych fled Ukraine and moved to Russia where he is trying to re-establish himself as president of Ukraine.
Following Yanukovych’s removal, a new pro-West government was installed in Kiev.
In the meantime, Russia sent troops to Crimea in southern Ukraine but Moscow still refuses to acknowledge the presence of their troops in this autonomous region of Ukraine.
On Sunday March 16 the region of Crimea, with its majority of ethnic Russian population, will hold a referendum vote to join the Russian Federation.
The United States and EU have both announced that they won’t accept the referendum vote and view the move as illegal and heavy handed Russian meddling into Ukraine’s sovereignty.