Russian leaders see the protests in Ukraine as part of a Western plot. For them, color revolutions are not manifestations of popular will but a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove independently minded national governments. They have argued that this is part of a global strategy to force foreign values on a range of nations around the world that refuse to accept U.S. hegemony, and that Russia was a particular target of this strategy.
It has been a really tumultuous year for Ukrainians, but the events are part of a continued evolutionary process of a country shedding its Soviet past and transitioning toward a modern democracy. To more fully understand today's events, it's useful to take a step back and examine events in Ukraine from a more macro perspective.
What differentiates a free people from the oppressed? At the fundamental level, the difference boils down to one thing, and one thing only: the ability and willingness of the citizens to take personal responsibility for their lives, for the way they are governed, and for their future. In Ukraine, we now understand this basic truth like never before.
For over 20 years of my life in the United States, whenever I answered "Ukraine" when asked where I came from, I'd hear, "Ah, Russia!" Home to 45.4 million people, Ukraine was little-known -- until bloodshed in Kiev's Maidan Square and continuing mayhem provoked by Putinesque instigators brought it into headlines.