Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Should the USA 'impose sanctions' on the government of Ukraine?

(Photo from

If one country or a group of countries 'imposes sanctions' on another country, that means that it tries to hurt the other country's economy as a type of punishment for something the other country did.  'to impose' means to place or put into effect; 'a sanction' is an economic punishment - for instance, we will no longer buy a certain product from you, nor will we sell you certain products.

The country of Ukraine seems to be a divided country.  Many people in the western part of Ukraine feel closer to western Europe.  Folks to the south and east feel closer to Russia. The current president, Viktor Yanukovych, seems to feel that establishing a closer relationship to Russia would be a greater advantage to his country.  It's true that the European Union offered Ukraine an economic deal to establish a closer relationship, but Yanukovych claims that the EU merely wants to make money from the new market Ukraine would provide them and, ultimately, an economic relationship with western Europe would hurt Ukraine.  

Basically Yanukovuch is saying that western Europe will flood (fill) Ukraine with inexpensive products which Ukrainians will happily buy, but this will hurt Ukraine's efforts to produce goods and establish a stronger economy. 

In any case, the folks who oppose (are against) Yanukovych have been establishing numerous protests since he made his decision to ignore the western part of Europe and establish an agreement with Russia. Some of their leaders are now asking the USA to establish sanctions against Ukraine. Yet, realistically, I do not see this happening. Yanukovych was elected the president of Ukraine and he did not do anything illegal by signing the agreement with Russia.  In the USA if a president makes a decision that a majority of the people do not like, he is merely removed from office during the next election.  But we recognize that the president has a right to make decisions as he feels the decisions ought to be made. 

Furthermore, economic sanctions will hurt the entire country of Ukraine.  I don't understand how some Ukrainians could ask the USA to take action to hurt the Ukrainian economy.  This seems to be a nasty (ugly, dirty, mean) political struggle between political parties in that country.

Here is an article about the situation in Ukraine.

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a sanction - a penalty or punishment from one or more countries against another.  For instance, many nations imposed sanctions against Iran because they felt that Iran was trying to produce nuclear weapons. So many countries will not trade with Iran.

demonstrators - protesters: people who are upset about a government policy and who go into the streets in large numbers to express their anger

reviving - bringing back to life; making stronger

a mass rally - a rally is kind of an organized protest - usually there are speakers and other activities.  People come together to show their disapproval of something but it is peaceful and organized.  A mass rally means lots of people are engaged in this activity.

opposition leader - the guy who represents the other political party which wants to gain power

an envoy - a representative

to press Washington - to put pressure on law-makers in Washington to do something; to encourage members of Congress to do what the opposition party wants them to do

the gang - the opposition leader is calling the current government a 'gang' as if it is a criminal organization.

a constitution - this is the primary or basic law of a democratic country

to draw the ire of - ire means anger; to cause many people to become angry

to organize a national strike - they will encourage people to stop working. Again, this is just my opinion, but I think this is wrong.  When you live in a democracy, you have to acknowledge that the president is going to do things you don't like sometimes.  Yet, the same thing happens in America. Because Republicans didn't like Obamacare, they shut down the government.

riot police - if protests become violent, they are called 'riots.'  Riots are when many people begin to act violently in public.  So riot police try to stop riots.

to disperse protesters - to force them to break up their protests and go home.  If police disperse a crowd they break up the crowd, they force the people to leave one area. "Police," by the way, is plural.

bolstered - strengthened

a bailout package - Russia just gave Ukraine money to save the government; it was a gift, not a loan

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