With all the attention of the world being focused on the crises between Ukraine and Russia, the deeper question about the very unity of Ukraine arrises once again. In the last 24 hours, the Russian Duma voted for a proposal for Vladimir Putin to recognise the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, while the United States are “in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv”. Both events shine a light on the devastating state of Ukrainian unity.
There are two major religious group in the Ukrainian state, with the orthodox church predominant in the south and east and the catholic majority in the west, as there are two major linguistic region, with the Russian speaking provinces in the east and the dominance of Ukrainian in the west. These splits are putting ongoing pressure on the stability of the country, and they are used extensively by foreign powers to gain influence in the country.
In the east, after years of intensive fights on different political and geographic fronts with the government in Kyiv, it lead to the establishment of the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, with (so far indirect) permission by the Kremlin. In case Russia will finally recognise these states as independent nations, it would be the second lost of territory for the central government after the secession of the Crimea peninsula in 2014.
With this possibility in sight, the United States decided to move their embassy from the capital Kyiv to Lviv, once called Lemberg during the era of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, less than 50 kilometres away from the polish border. It’s fair to mention that the city has been part of the Polish nation until 1939, until Stalin, during the Second World War, gave that territory to what has been the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Similar accounts for other areas on the south-western borders of the country, which used to be part of Czechoslovakia or Romania until the 1940’s.
When Ukraine has been a state that NATO could use to put pressure on Russia, its unity was crucial for its strategy. But if Russia is able to control Ukraine, it’s preferable for NATO if the country is divided so that a potential frontline is located in the country and not on its borders in the west.
This simple quotation in mind, the future of Ukraine lies once again on the decisions made in far away capitals with far away goals compared to that of the country itself. If decisions made this week will lead towards the negativ path for Ukraine, the future might interpret today as the decisive day that lead towards the end of Ukrainian unity.