Ukraine Russia West

Ukraine, Russia

and the West




union re-elect come/came/come
resent collapse Soviet Union
worth peninsula large/larger/largest
estate sign (3) enthusiasm
join divide (2) fundamental
amid allegation see/saw/seen
settle election pressure (2)
fraud twist (2) independence
report decision ramification
annex frustrate lead/led/led
sector miss (2) centerpiece
deal in the end association
favor outcome walk away from (2)
crack invasion begin/began/begun
flee pro (2) agreement
region head for supposed to
rebel cue (2) splinter (2)
seize remain summit (2)
turn against revolution
poll ancient perception
soil explain crackdown
surge optimism bring/brought/brought
recent live for think/thought/thought (2)
build destroy current (2)
effort invade begin/began/begun
extent emerge






Ukraine’s independence came in 1991. The Soviet Union had collapsed and, as it splintered, a number of new nations emerged.

Ukraine was one of the largest. Its population was fifty-two million (52,000,000). It was twelve-hundred (1,200) kilometers from east to west, and with that land came a huge farming sector, worth over twenty-billion dollars ($20 billion) now.

And as democracy moved east, this was a moment of optimism. In 1991, Ukrainians celebrated their first election. The US called it ‘momentous’, one voter described it a ‘flowering of our soul’.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

But for all the enthusiasm, democracy couldn’t change Ukraine’s geography or its history.

To the east was Russia, to the west was Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, all three had communist past — by 2004, all three had jointed the European Union.

Being pro-Russia or pro-Europe became a fundamental dividing line in Ukrainian politics. And months later, we saw how.

Amid allegations of electoral fraud, what became known as the Orange Revolution began.

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And two men were the focus.

Viktor Yanukovych, who was pro-Russia, and who had initially been declared the winner, and Viktor Yushchenko, here on the right, who was pro-Europe and would become president after a new vote.

And while the outcome of that election was settled, relations with Russia were not.

In 2010, there was a further twist.

Yanukovych was re-elected, and then in 2013, he would take a decision with huge ramifications. Chris Morris reported at that time.

Chris Morris, Reporter: “As EU leaders arrived for the eastern partnership summit, something was missing. The centerpiece was supposed to have been the signing of an association agreement with Ukraine.”

But it didn’t happen.

Under pressure from Russia, Yanukovych walked away from that deal with the EU, and another revolution would begin.

There were weeks of protests and crackdowns. And in the end, Yanukovych would flee this country estate just outside Kyiv . . . and head for Russia.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Watching from Moscow was Vladimir Putin. This was his cue to act. First Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine; it’s a peninsula on the Black Sea.

Weeks later, pro-Russian rebels seized two regions in the east of Ukraine.

Russia already divided Ukrainian politics, now Putin was dividing the country itself.

But the turn towards the West, that frustrated him then, remains now. One recent poll shows sixty-eight percent (68%) of Ukrainians are in favor of joining the EU.

Putin though sees Russians and Ukrainians as ‘one people; a single whole’. He says Ukraine is ‘ancient Russian soil’.

That perception may explain this invasion today. But perhaps there’s something else too.

The nineties (1990s) brought a surge of democratic optimism. To Ukraine’s current president, this invasion is showing us what Putin thinks of that.

Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine: “Putin started a war against Ukraine, against the whole democratic world. He wants to destroy my country, he wants to destroy our country, everything we’d been building. Everything we live for.”
That effort, to build a nation began as Ukraine emerged from the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War.

Today, as Russia invades, Ukrainians are seeing the extent of Putin’s resentment of what happened then, and what’s happened since.

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Soviet Union, USSR. Ukraine, Estonia and Georgia have always been independent countries. True or false?

Russia, Belarus. Does Ukraine have a lot of potential to be an economic powerhouse?

Ukraine. Since independence, Ukraine had been rule by a single autocrat. Is this right or wrong?

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania. The main political parties were the left who championed the working class and poor, the right or conservatives who represented big business and the rich. Is this correct or incorrect?

Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Was 2013 a watershed year for Ukraine? What happened (or did not happen) in 2013?

Romania, Moldova.
In Ukraine, have elections always gone smoothly, or have there been disputes and allegations of voter fraud and election tampering?

Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro.
“Watching from Moscow was Vladimir Putin. This was his cue to act.” What does this mean? What happened? Why did this happen?

Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic. Do Ukrainians want to democratic, autocratic, both, neither or in the middle? Do they want to be part of the European Union and NATO, the Commonwealth of Independent States, both or neither?

Poland. Is Vladimir Putin “jealous”?

Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece.
I was shocked and very surprised that Russia has invaded Ukraine. Yes or no?

Finland, Sweden, Denmark.
What do people in your city, town and country think of the Russian invasion?

Germany, Austria, Switzerland. Can you think of other reasons Putin has invaded Ukraine? What do you think of Putin?

France, Italy.
What might happen in the future?

Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg. What could or should governments and ordinary citizens do?

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