Students protest U.S. intervention in Ukraine


The group, bearing signs and a message for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, was small in number, but had an undeterred resolve. 

The seven activists from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized in front the Business Partnership Building in the USF Research Park, where they believed Rubio’s office to be, to protest his support for U.S. involvement in Ukrainian crisis. But once there, they were greeted with a surprise. 

A note on the door of the former office of the senator said his office relocated to South Tampa two months ago. 

But the protestors took his absence in stride: they posted a list of their demands on the abandoned office’s door before leaving. 

Their three demands included “no U.S. intervention in Ukraine and Crimea, stop all aid to Ukraine and end sanctions against Russia.” 

The Ukrainian crisis reached a boiling point after Russian soldiers occupied Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula in February.  

Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev in February after protests amplified in violence, Crimea passed a referendum declaring independence March 16, and Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted it into the Russian Federation the next day. 

Danielle Leppo, an SDS protester and USF alumna, said the U.S. has no business n the ongoing international crisis

“The United States is not the world police,” she said. “We must respect people of Ukraine and Crimea. We must respect their right to self-determination, the right to defend themselves and the right to choose their own destinies.”

Leppo said the U.S.’s anti-Russia sentiments could influence its stance to back “players with ties to the fascist right sector.”

The initial revolution in Ukraine came as a reaction to Yanukovych postponing an economic agreement to liberalize trade with Europe, in favor of accepting a Russian bargain of cheaper gas and $15 billion in loans. 

“This was a culmination of a process promoted by the U.S. and countries of the European Union to bring instability and turmoil to the Ukraine,” said Leppo. 

In response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its military presence on Ukrainian borders, the U.S. and NATO allies have taken steps to punish Russia.

The European Union condemned Crimea’s vote for annexation as illegal, Russia was dismissed from the G8 and several countries have threatened economic sanctions. 

Gage Lacharite, SDS activist and a sophomore majoring in computer science, said the sanctions are unjustified.

“The sanctions that are being imposed on Russia are nothing but an attempt to create more destruction and more loss in an effort to consolidate the world under NATO control,” he said. 

The international community also supported the interim government in Kiev, which supports Western assimilation. 

Lacharite said the U.S. is exploiting the crisis to strengthen international control while weakening Russia’s.

“Russia is a world power, and as long as it has a powerful economy then it’s going to be a threat to us,” Lacharite said.

If Russia is weaker, he said the U.S. would be able to better spread its agenda across the globe.

Leppo said she believed the U.S. should be isolationist and not get involved with the problems of other countries. 

“It’s destabilizing to a region to send any aid, because basically the United States tries to win the hearts and minds of people,” she said. “We should not spend another dime to continue U.S. imperialist, capitalist expansion.”