If you seen the news lately I’m sure you’ve heard all the hoopla surrounding the uprising in Ukraine. Basically, there are parts of Crimea (a territory of Ukraine) that wants to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Our own President Obama has gotten involved, issuing a warning to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to resolve their situation as diplomatically as possible with Ukraine. President Putin is not likely to take heed, which may cause a violation of international law. All in all, this is not a good look for Russia as they seem to be violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.
How does this affect the United States? Well, if Russia doesn’t back down then the U.S. may either freeze their assets or stop Russian firms from doing business in the U.S. altogether.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering Ukraine is located between Asia and Europe, right above Turkey. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t exactly sure either)
Read this article from CNN below to get some of your questions about Ukraine answered:
20 Questions: What is Russia’s interest in Ukraine?
by Saeed Ahmed. Greg Botelho and Eliott C. McLaughlin
Russia approved the use of military force in Ukraine on Saturday, despite warnings of consequences from the West, and Ukraine responded by saying any invasion into its territory would be illegitimate.
The acting prime minister has gone so far as to say that a Russian invasion would mean war and an end to his country’s relationship with Russia.
But there are so many questions as to how Ukraine arrived at this point: Why is Russia so interested in happenings there? Why does the West want to prevent Russian intervention? How did we get here? Why have thousands of protesters staked their lives, seemingly, on their desire for political change? And why has the government resisted their calls so vehemently?
Let’s take a look:
1. Why has Russia gotten so involved?
Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea have closer ties to Russia, while Western Ukraine is more friendly with Europe. Many Eastern Ukrainians still speak Russian, and the 2010 presidential elections divided the country with Eastern Ukraine voting heavily in favor of pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. On Saturday, the Kremlin issued a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama that Russia approved military action in Ukraine because it “reserves the right to defend its interests and the Russian-speaking people who live there.”
2. Hasn’t Yanukovych stepped down?
The Ukraine Parliament voted him out of power and he has fled to Russia. However, in a press conference Friday, the former President said — in Russian rather than Ukrainian — that he was not overthrown. He insisted he was still the boss and that he wants nothing more than to lead his country to peace, harmony and prosperity. While it’s unclear if he could return to power, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations blamed members of the European Union for the bloody demonstrations that led to Yanukovych’s ouster.
3. What will happen in Ukraine if Russia sends troops there?
Top Ukrainian officials, including the acting President and prime minister, have said they are prepared to defend the country. They’ve also said that any invasion would be illegitimate, a response echoed by the United States, which has told Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.
4. Would there be international backlash to a Russian incursion?
The United Nations has warned Russia against military action, while Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Putin “dialogue must be the only tool in ending the crisis.” International leaders have also denounced the prospect of Russian involvement, while Obama has warned there would be consequences if Russia acted militarily.
5. What sort of consequences?
Obama hasn’t been specific other than to say Russia could face “greater political and economic isolation” and that the United States “will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8″ in Sochi. Several Republican leaders in Congress have called on the President to take a tougher stand.
6. What are Obama’s options?
Sanctions, of course, top the list of options, but the United States will need to prepare for the backlash. Former presidential adviser David Gergen says Putin would consider any sanctions “small potatoes” compared to keeping control of Crimea, while Putin could pull his support for Obama’s initiative to reduce nuclear threats in the world, including in Iran. Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Macedonia, Iraq and Poland, says imposing sanctions also raises the risk of alienating a superpower. “That means 20 years of trying to work with Russia down the drain,” he said.
7. What started the turmoil in Ukraine?
Protests initially erupted over a trade pact. For a year, Yanukovych insisted he was intent on signing a historical political and trade agreement with the European Union. But on November 21, he decided to suspend talks with the EU.
8. What would the pact have done?
The deal, the EU’s “Eastern Partnership,” would have created closer political ties and generated economic growth. It would have opened borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion, supporters of the pact said.
9. Why did Yanukovych backpedal?
He had his reasons. Chief among them was Russia’s opposition to it. Russia threatened its much smaller neighbor with trade sanctions and steep gas bills if Ukraine forged ahead. If Ukraine didn’t, and instead joined a Moscow-led Customs Union, it would get deep discounts on natural gas, Russia said.
10. Were there any other reasons?
Yes, a more personal one. Yanukovych also was facing a key EU demand that he was unwilling to meet: Free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his bitter political opponent. Two years ago, she was found guilty of abuse of office in a Russian gas deal and sentenced to seven years in prison, in a case widely seen as politically motivated. Her supporters say she needs to travel abroad for medical treatment.
11. What happened next?
Many Ukrainians were outraged. They took to the streets, demanding that Yanukovych sign the EU deal. Their numbers swelled. The demonstrations drew parallels to Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, which booted Yanukovych, then a prime minister, from office.
12. Who’s heading the opposition?
It’s not just one figure, but a coalition. The best known figure is Vitali Klitschko. He’s a former world champion boxer (just like his brother Wladimir). Klitschko heads the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party. But the opposition bloc goes well beyond Klitschko and the UDAR. There’s also Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
13. How did Yanukovych react?
In a way that inflamed passions further. He flew to Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt and slash the price Kiev pays for its gas. And then, when the demonstrations showed no signs of dying down, he adopted a sweeping anti-protest law.
14. What did the anti-protest law say?
The law barred people from wearing helmets and masks to rallies and from setting up tents or sound equipment without prior police permission. This sparked concerns it could be used to put down demonstrations and deny people the right to free speech — and clashes soon escalated. The demonstrators took over City Hall for the better part of three months.
15. But wasn’t the law repealed?
Yes, ultimately it was. Amid intense pressure, deputies loyal to Yanukovych backtracked and overturned it. But by then, the protests had become about something much bigger: constitutional reform.
16. What change in the constitution did they want to see?
The protesters want to see a change in the government’s overall power structure. They feel that too much power rests with Yanukovych and not enough with parliament.
17. What did the government do?
In late January, the President offered a package of concessions under which Yatsenyuk, the opposition leader, would have become the prime minister and, under the President’s offer, been able to dismiss the government. He also offered Klitschko the post of deputy prime minister on humanitarian issues. He also agreed to a working group looking at changes to the constitution. But the opposition refused.
18. Why did the opposition pass on the offer?
The concessions weren’t enough to satisfy them. They said Yanukovych had hardly loosened his grip on the government, nor had he seemingly reined in authorities’ approach to protesters. “We’re finishing what we started,” Yatsenyuk said.
19. Who was to blame for the clashes?
Depends on whom you ask. The government pointed the finger at protesters. The opposition, in turn, blamed the government.
20. What’s the takeaway here?
Street protests that started in November over a trade pact swelled into something much bigger — resulting in the former President fleeing to Russia for safety while still claiming to be the official leader of the country. With Russian troops rumored to be preparing for hostilities in the Crimea, the future of the region and the resulting effect on U.S.-Russian relations appears shaky.
Lent is here! I am not Catholic but I do plan on observing Lent. According to the United Methodist Church, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter,” and is “a time of self-examination and reflection.” I like observing Lent because it means that I have to give up something that is taking my attention away from the Christian journey, away from Christ and my devotion to Him. If you are practicing Lent it’s important to give up the things in life that would be somewhat of a sacrifice to not have for a month and a half. It might be more important, however, to increase other activities that reflect upon and improve your faith and allow for spiritual growth.
Now this requires “discipline.” Discipline through fasting, praying, and/or giving. You should reflect on Christ’s teachings to live them out more fully once this time period is over. It’s sometimes helpful to view Lent as a season of “soul-searching,” repentance (asking for forgiveness), reflection (meditation), and sacrifice. For a lot of people, they ask themselves the question: “What to give up for Lent?” When you give up something for Lent, you help develop your spiritual nature, grow closer to Christ, and realize all that He has given up for us. It’s not always about giving up something for Lent. Sometimes, it’s about doing something extra—something you wouldn’t normally do—in preparation for Easter.
We sacrifice, give things up for Lent, and take on new practices in exchange for the greatest sacrifice known to humanity. We get the opportunity to learn self-control and to improve our lives as Christians. As we give things up for Lent, we’re really finding things that are taking away from our love of Christ and giving them up so that we may improve our lives, the lives of those around us, and our relationship with the Lord.
Here are some common things that people give up for Lent -
- Facebook/Social Media
- Snooze button
Here are some things that people give (meaning they do for others) during Lent -
- Write letters
- Read the Bible more
- Attend church
- Give away some of your belongings to those less fortunate
- Practice being a better friend
- Spend more time with family
But don’t forget that kids can participate too! Click here to read more about RAK.
I’ve decided to sacrifice television for Lent. Not completely, but I’ll definitely be cutting down the amount of TV I watch, dedicating more of that time to quiet worship & reading the Bible. I’ll be posting periodically throughout the Lenten season, so stay tuned!
Nice read to start off a new month!
Originally posted on I Am Equilibrium:
Life does not provide us with a manual on how to lead the perfect life. The fact is, that there is no perfect life, but instead a well-balanced life and so often you will find that people strive for perfection when what they should strive for is balance. Even so, once we figure this out, everyone is different. What might work to create a balance for one person, may not work in the exact same way for another so what can we do. While this is true, I find that there are steps that we can take to find a happy and healthy balance that we can all benefit from in one way or another. The following are 9 steps that can help you create the type of balance that is conducive to leading a happy and healthy life:
1. Think Positively