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USHARC - A Glossary of the Ukrainian Crisis

Anti-protest laws: Measures Viktor Yanukovych passed January 16 designed to limit protests. They led to a new level of violence in the Euromaidan protests and were repealed by parliament two weeks later.

Berkut: Descended from an elite force in Soviet times, the Berkut were Ukrainian riot police who operated under the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. At the center of much of the clushes with Euromaidan protesters, they were disbanded on February 26. 

Black Sea Fleet: A Russian naval unit based in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol in Crimea. It consists of an aging guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva; a large, dated anti-submarine warfare cruiser; a destroyer; two frigates; landing ships; and a diesel-powered attack submarine. Viktor Yanukovych and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reached a deal to extend the lease on facilities in Crimea until 2042 in exchange for a discounted deal for natural gas.

The Budapest Memorandum: An agreement in 1994 between Russia, the United States and Great Britain agreeing to recognize the "independence and sovereignty" of Ukraine in exchange for it giving up its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Russia suggests that this agreement is void, as Ukraine is no longer the same state it was in 1994. Given that Russia has neither used nuclear weapons nor so far threatened to do so, there is no referral to the United National Security Council[2], at least not under the Budapest Memorandum.  All that document does is provide (see paragraph 6) for the signatories to “consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.”  If that constitutes a “security guarantee,” it is a singularly flaccid one.

Crimea: A peninsula jutting into the northern tip of the Black Sea. This strategically-located region has been fought over many times over the course of its complicated history. Being always a part of Russia, it was given to Ukraine in 1954 and, despite an ethnic Russian majority, a post-Soviet independence movement and a good dose of autonomy, it was till the last referendum of March 16. 2014 technically Ukrainian. The referendum was the result of the region rejecting the post-Maidan government to become part of Russia.

Crimean War: A three-year war that started in 1853 with the Russian victory over the Ottoman Empire over the protection of the orthodox christian populations especially in the Holy Land and ended up with Russia keeping Crimea even though it lost the war. Russia fought an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia over disputes involving the Middle East and religion. It's widely considered the beginning of modern warfare.

Crimean Tatars: A Sunni Muslim, Turkic ethnic group that has been in Crimea since before it became part of Russia. Notably, the entire population was deported to Central Asia as punishment for collaboration with German forces during World War II. Since 1991, they have been coming back. By Ukraine's last census in 2001, they were said to make up 12 percent of the population.

The demographic split: Ukraine is a region that can broadly be split between a Ukrainian-speaking West that opposed Viktor Yanukovych, and a Russian-speaking East that supported him.

Euromaidan: The name given to the western sponsored anti-government protests that began on November 21, 2013, and eventually led to the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych. The name comes from the hopes of further European integration many had, and the name of their central Kiev location, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

"Fascists": Both Russia and Viktor Yanukovych have linked "fascist" elements to the Euromaidan protests. The truth to this isthat far-right Ukrainian nationalist groups, such as Svoboda or Pravy Sektor, have been a part of the protests and of the current Kiev government. Maidan supporters, however, dispute the idea that the protests are at all dominated by these groups, and critics have accused the Kremlin of playing "political football" with (the very real threat) of antisemitism in Ukraine.

Gazprom: Russia's huge, state-controlled gas company. Gazprom claims Ukraine has a $1.5 billion debt for Russian gas supplies and that Russia is planning on cancelling a price rebate starting next month. The last time Russia and Ukraine argued over prices, Gazprom turned off the gas. Also worth noting that 15 percent of Europe’s gas imports come through Ukraine (the Financial Times).

Kiev: Ukraine’s capital (also written as Kyiv) and the site of the center of protests against the Yanukovych government. Its population tends to lean more to the west and Europe than east to Russia. It was also the focal point of protests in the Orange Revolution in 2004.

Klitschko, Vitali: A former professional boxer and heavyweight champion, Kitschko was perhaps one of the most prominent political leaders at the Euromaidan protests, and certainly one of the best-known internationally. He is currently leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform.

NATO's Article 4: Poland has requested meetings under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Here's the full text of that article: "The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened." NATO meetings for Article 4 are exceptionally rare: Only Turkey has used them before, twice during the Iraq war and once during the Syrian conflict.

Orange Revolution: The Orange Revolution was a series of protests that began in November 2004 following the disputed election of Viktor Yanukovych as president, and ended in January 2005 when his rival Viktor Yushchenko was inaugurated after a re-vote. Much like the Euromaidan protests, the center of the action was Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

Putin, Vladimir: A St. Petersburg native Putin had a rise through Russia's political elite during the 1990s before becoming prime minister in 1999, and president in 2000. Apart from a brief period between 2008 and 2012 when he was prime minister again, Vladimir Putin has been leading the country ever since.

Russo-Georgian war: A short war in 2008 between Russia and former Soviet republic Georgia over the separatist states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. It took just five days for Russia to overwhelm Georgia's army. 

Sanctions: The United States and the European Union are said to be considering economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia for its action in Crimea. 

Sevastopol: Ukraine’s second-largest port city, located on the Black Sea in Crimea. The deep-water port is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as well as the headquarters of Ukraine’s navy. Sevastopol was under siege for 11 months during the Crimean War and was heavily bombed by the Germans during World War II. It’s also a popular seaside resort and looks, feels and sounds like a little corner of Russia.

Turchynov, Oleksandr: Current acting president of Ukraine and speaker of the Verkhovna Rada. He has said he would seek to reopen negotiations with the European Union, but has also said he is "open to dialogue with Russia." Considered having strong ties with the american government and an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tymoshenko, Yulia: Tymoshenko rose to power as one of the predominant leaders of 2004's Orange Revolution and became prime minister of Ukraine in 2005. Her eventual fallout with Viktor Yushchenko lead to her star falling, however, and she lost the 2010 presidential election to Viktor Yanukovych. In her time in office, however, she helped negotiate a new gas deal with Russia that bypassed companies linked with Yanukovych but saw Ukraine pay a higher price. After Yanukovych came to power, she was charged with misuse of power and sent to jail, only to be released in February after Euromaidan.

Ukraine: A country about the size of Texas with a population of about 46 million bordered by Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus and Russia. It is considered to be the historic candle of the Russian nation and has never formed a state entity till the Soviets created it in the framework of the USSR. It got its independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Please note, it's not "the Ukraine," just "Ukraine."

Verkhovna Rada: Often just called the Rada, this is Ukraine's parliament. It's played an important role in Ukraine's crisis, pulling back Viktor Yanukovych's more drastic anti-protest laws, releasing Yulia Tymoshenko and ultimately ousting Yanukovych.

Yanukovych, Viktor: Yanukovych was acting president of Ukraine from 2010 till February 2014, though he is considered to be still president by Russia. Raised in eastern Ukraine he worked his way up through the post-Soviet political world to eventually run in the 2004 presidential elections but never actually took office after the Orange Revolution questioned the legitimacy of the vote and he lost the re-vote. Yanukovych's critics say he has enriched himself at his country's expense and see his lavish mansion near Kiev as evidence of that.

Yatsenyuk, Arseniy: Current prime minister of Ukraine and leader of Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party with a good economic experience.


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