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Ukraine’s ‘EuroMaidan’ protests escalate

KIEV, Ukraine (BP) — As conflict in Ukraine heads into its third month, Ukrainians are losing hope for a peaceful resolution due to mounting hostility.

Troubles began when the Ukrainian government failed to sign a trade agreement with the European Union and, instead, signed a deal for financial assistance from Russia that is opposed by many Ukrainians.

Protests in Kiev, the capital city, have led to violent clashes with the police and military, resulting in casualties. Dominating the media are scenes of angry protesters congregating in the center of the city, with cars burning in the streets.

The conflict has now been named “EuroMaidan,” Ukrainian for “Eurosquare.”

International Mission Board worker Larry Forbes*, serving in Kiev, said the city center where the protesters have set up camp is like a city within a city.

“People bring in food and supplies and wood — it is very organized from what I’ve heard,” Forbes said. “Some … who are down there are not planning on giving up — they are digging in.”

EU-related talks over the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 weekend in Germany gave EuroMaidan protesters resolve to push ahead with demands for President Viktor Yanukovych to resign. The military’s recent support of the government has further hardened their resolve.

“There is a general feeling that Russia is going to intervene at some point,” Forbes said.

Eastern Ukraine is strongly Russian in its identity, but the western part tends toward European influence. Forbes suggested many think Russia will use the connection with the east to justify lending their help to bring order to the country.

With the military weighing in on the side of the government, people fear the violence will escalate. BBC reports that Leonid Kravchuk, the former president of Ukraine, has said that a civil war is imminent.

In spite of sparks of violence nearby and looming in the future, Forbes said he and his colleagues are not fearful.

“Pray for what we’re doing — what we believe God called us to do.” he said.

The primary thing the Ukrainian believers desire, Forbes said, is for a peaceful solution and for God to bring the nation to Himself.
*Name changed. Nicole Lee is an International Mission Board writer based in Europe. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Nicole Lee