Journalist Simon Shuster said it was “straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.” Writer Philip Gourevitch thought it was more like Bruegel. But the main word to describe the violent clashes in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv was “apocalyptic.”
Civil strife often follows a grimly predictable pattern. What at first seems a soluble dispute hardens into conflict, as goals become more radical, bitterness accumulates and the chance to broker a compromise is lost. Such has been the awful trajectory of Ukraine, where protests that began peacefully in November have combusted in grotesque violence.
Expressing alarm at the lethal escalation of political violence in Ukraine, the European Union and the United States scrambled for a quick response Wednesday, threatening punitive sanctions against senior figures in the Ukrainian government. The Obama administration later said it had placed 20 top Ukrainian officials on a visa blacklist.
Three months after the first anti-government protests in Ukraine, the country has experienced its deadliest day of political violence, with nine people dying in clashes between demonstrators and police. The beating heart of the pro-Europe, anti-Russia 'Euromaidan' movement is in Kiev's Independence Square (in Ukrainian, Maidan Nezalezhnosti), and the square is currently in flames after a day of police firing rubber bullets at protesters wielding molotov cocktails and fireworks.
Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka on Sunday said the protests rocking Ukraine would not harm its ambitious bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in the western city of Lviv. Bubka said holding the Winter Olympics in Ukraine would help unite his divided nation.
Social media networks are, well, atwitter about a phone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt regarding developments and strategy in Ukraine that was intercepted and posted on YouTube.
A conversation between a State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine posted on YouTube revealed a frank exchange on U.S. strategy for a political transition in that country, including a crude swipe at the European Union.
When, fifteen years ago, Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister under the ailing Boris Yeltsin, few would have thought that he was to become one of Russia’s longest-serving political leaders in living memory. Fifteen years into his “era,” Putin has reached unassailable heights of prestige, masterly defeating his would-be challengers among street protesters and oligarchs and getting more than a bang for his ruble on the international stage.