The country of Ukraine has been in the news quite a bit lately. The Eastern European country has become the subject of conversation due to a scandal involving President Donald Trump. Democrats in the House of Representatives have begun an impeachment investigation to determine whether or not they should attempt to remove the president from office over this story.
What’s Up with Ukraine?
The talk of impeachment centers on a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that took place in July. Last month, a government official anonymously filed a complaint against Trump for his behavior during the phone call. According to this individual, Trump attempted to pressure Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, who may become Trump’s opponent in the next presidential election. Biden is currently attempting to become the Democratic Party nominee for president in 2020, and he is known to have some connections with Ukraine as his son Hunter works for an energy company there, called Burisma Holdings.
The person who filed the complaint said President Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine if it refused to investigate Biden. If the accusations are true, then President Trump may have broken the law or engaged in unethical behavior. However, it is not clear that the president is guilty of wrongdoing.
The White House recently released a transcript of the phone call so the American public could see exactly what was said between the two leaders. During the conversation, Zelensky asked Trump to increase the amount of aid the US gives to Ukraine. Trump responds by saying he would like Zelensky to “do us a favor, though.”
The favor that Trump requested appears to be more related to helping federal authorities investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, not looking into Biden’s history with Ukraine. Moreover, Trump did not actually say anything about withholding military aid. In fact, when Trump did decide to delay giving funding to Ukraine, Zelensky did not find out until a month after the phone call, implying that he was unaware this option was on the table.
History of Ukraine
Ukraine has a rather storied history. In the 20th century, it was a part of Poland. Later, Russia took control of the country and treated its inhabitants in a brutal fashion. Russia banned the Ukrainian language and attempted to erase the nation’s culture. After the Soviet Union was formed, treatment of Ukraine worsened. Joseph Stalin starved the people of the country to keep them under Soviet control.
In 1991, the Soviet Union finally collapsed and things started looking up for Ukraine. At that point, it became a sovereign nation. Despite this, it continues to have an antagonistic relationship with Russia. In 2014, Russia took control of Crimea, which was previously a part of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s government is a republic with a semi-presidential system. Similar to the United States, Ukraine has three branches: executive, judiciary, and legislative. But unlike the US, Ukraine operates under a multi-party system, where various groups join together in coalitions to form governments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was just elected earlier this year. His victory was a surprise; previously, he was an actor who played the president on television. His election was notable because the citizenry did not know whether Zelensky would be loyal to Ukraine, or become friendly with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
While it is unclear how Trump’s phone call with Zelensky will impact the efforts at impeachment, it is clear the country will play a significant role in American politics and on the world stage in the near future.