The situation in Ukraine has been on our radar for months now and just after Christmas it looked as though the worst was over. Unfortunately, the last few weeks have seen escalating violence and as tempers flare, the death toll is beginning to rise.
Protesters barricaded themselves in to Independence Square in Kiev which houses government buildings. This was originally in response to President Yanukovych's last minute refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union in November. To the people of Ukraine, that signaled Yanukovych's intent to restore ties with Russia, and meetings between Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin since then have confirmed that notion.
The demonstrations were tense but peaceful initially. Since then, as the Yanukovych Administration has drawn closer to Moscow, the people have become proportionally enraged. There are rumors that police stations have been raided and that demonstrators are arming themselves. This does not bode well for President Yanukovych's pleas for a peaceful resolution, which many believe are little more than lip service toward the appearance of diplomacy.
The trouble has yet to reach the Black Sea export hub of that nation and with a looming credit crisis and desperate times for the national economy, Ukraine must maintain revenues, especially export revenues. That will include grains and nitrogenous fertilizers and while Ukraine provides just a small portion of the nitrogen consumed by U.S. growers each year, a shortfall in global nitrogen stocks could have Indonesian, Asian and South American nitrogen buyers looking elsewhere for product.
There is also the possibility that Ukrainian rebels could take cues from Libyan rebels who have crippled crude exports from that country by taking over several major export locations in the eastern part of Libya. If Ukrainian rebels strike at the Yanukovych regime -- and by extension at Moscow -- by blocking export sendouts, global nitrogen supplies will be threatened.
Meanwhile, the goodwill of global athletes at the Sochi Olympics shields Ukrainian protesters from the wrath of Putin, which has been proven to be decisive and severe. Many fear that as soon as news cameras leave Sochi, Putin will clamp down on these protests with force. Putin has won the support of Ukrainian President Yanukovych but not the will of the Ukrainian people who are said to be arming themselves for all out war.
Photo credit: snamess / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: mac_ivan / Foter / CC BY