Ohio Gov. John Kasich voiced his support for Ukrainian protesters last week, a move some at Ohio State have praised.
Kasich, a Republican who has been named by some outlets as a potential presidential candidate for 2016, gave his State of the State speech Feb. 24 in Medina, Ohio.
“God bless those Ukrainians who drove their power from the bottom up to restore freedom in that country,” Kasich said.
He related the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people to the attitude toward self-governance he said he wants to see in Ohio.
“Government works for the people, the people do not work for the government,” Kasich said.
The protests in Ukraine began in November and are a product of East-West tensions, which have pitted those who relate more to Europe against those who are closer to Russia.
In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided not to sign agreements with the European Union that would have strengthened ties between Ukraine and the EU, which showed he preferred to have stronger ties to Russia.
Russia has a long history of influence over Ukraine, as Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Many Ukrainians have a desire to move away from that legacy and make their nation more like those of Western Europe.
Christine Charyton, an OSU associate professor of neurology who helped lead pro-Ukrainian protests in Columbus Feb. 22 and 23, said she was glad Kasich brought up Ukraine in his address.
“By him talking about Ukraine and Ukrainian people, he demonstrates that he knows about what goes on in the world and how that applies to Ohio and his own leadership style,” Charyton said. “I think Kasich capitalized on the strength of the Ukrainian people.”
There were an estimated 42,609 Ukrainians living in Ohio in 2010-12, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s three-year estimated population profile.
The situation in Ukraine has changed since Kasich made his speech, though.
Ukraine’s parliament impeached Yanukovych Feb. 22, who has been given sanctuary in Russia, and Russian troops took over parts of the Crimea peninsula.
On Wednesday, the European Union offered $15 billion in financial aid to Ukraine to help the government keep running.
Russia tabled its offer of financial aid when Yanukovych was ousted.
The U.S. offered $1 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday in an effort to have Ukraine lessen its energy reliance on Russia.
Ukraine is a nation slightly smaller than the size of Texas and is bordered by Russia to the east and Poland and Romania, as well as other smaller countries to the west. It has a population of about 44.6 million people, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Yuliya Vanchosovych, a second-year in international studies, came to America from Ukraine when she was 8 years old. She said not enough is being done about the situation in Ukraine.
“There’s definitely so much more that should be done,” Vanchosovych said.