In Defense of Self-Determination
The toppling of the government of Ukraine caused a wide-array of reactions in the United States. Like most Americans, my first reaction was that of elation when pro-European Union forces overthrew what seemed like an Eastern European dictatorship. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the initial coup d’état in Ukraine.
Western Ukraine is wholly different from the East. It has longed for European contact for the last century. The West has a built in dislike of Russia. During Joseph Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union the Ukraine became the target of Holodomor. Holodomor was the purposeful starvation of the Ukraine’s populace (Then known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic).
Naturally, many Ukrainians took umbrage at their targeted famine due to the actions of the Soviet government. This led many Ukrainians to welcome German soldiers as liberators during World War Two. In fact, a part of Hitler’s elite private army called the Waffen SS (Schutzstaffel) was made up of Ukrainians (SS Galicia). Eastern Ukrainians, in contrast, typically identify with the Russian Federation. The Ukrainians in the East even refer to World War Two as “The Great Patriotic War,” which is typically what it’s known as in the former Soviet Union.
This lineage can be seen in the modern Ukrainian political landscape. Western Ukraine was unhappy, to say the least, of the Pro-Russian attitude taken by Viktor Yanukovych (the Ukrainian president during what became known as Euromaidan). This resulted in the toppling of Yanukovych’s presidency by a mostly Western populace. In the Eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych was still popular among the people. The “Euromaidan” uprisings led to an uprising of its own in the Eastern Ukraine. This uprising proved to be remarkably successful by Eastern Ukrainians, whose ranks were bolstered by deserting Ukrainian soldiers.
The People’s Republic of Lugansk and Donetsk were created in the aftermath of these uprisings. This secession of a people from their undesirable government has received little, if any support from Libertarians or Conservatives. A foundation of Libertarian or Conservative thinking is the notion of choosing for oneself. This is exactly what is occurring in the Eastern Ukraine: people are taking up arms because they feel they are no longer represented by their government.
They took to their own arms in defense of their own ideals. Their politics are murky due to their concentration on fighting for their independence. But, just as Scotland was given a voice for its independence so should the new citizens of the respective republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.