March 6, 2014
Ukraine appears to be headed toward a possible breakup -- after lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they want to join Russia, and that they will put the decision to voters in ten days.
It's a move several world leaders call a violation of Ukrainian and international law.
President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for two hours Thursday, trying to find a diplomatic solution.
Despite the latest developments, Charlottesville resident and Ukraine native Yuliya Khrystych is optimistic the country will remain united.
"Ukraine still has Crimea and Ukrainian territory is still untouched -- that is one thing I can hope for," she said. "I truly believe it's possible because of the spirit of the Ukrainian people that are not going to give up. I know, I'm one of them. They're not going to give up."
Citizens became concerned in November after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's government announced it would be abandoning an agreement that would increase ties with the European Union and instead work more closely with Moscow.
The anti-government protests began shortly after.
In December, Khrystych returned to her hometown of Kiev to join the growing number of activists taking over the downtown area.
"The atmosphere...you could feel the excitement. People were so excited to fight for what they believe in. They knew it would be long and not easy and there would be losses and there have been losses," said Khrystych. "They expected it, but they were so ready to risk their lives for what they believe, to create a country that they are proud to pass on to their children."
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured in the clashes.
But protesters aren't ready to give up yet. In fact, Khrystych says they're gaining ground.
Khrystych points to Yanukovych fleeing the country on February 22 as a major turning point for the future of Ukraine.
"It's going to show the politicians that come after him they can't just do what they want. It will basically keep them in check," she said.
Khrystych says she is proud of the Ukrainians who are standing up for what they believe in and not backing down.
"People actually for once believe that they matter. They have this complaint of, 'I'm a drop in the ocean,' but they're creating the ocean. They're a whole bunch of drops that have created this giant wave," she said.
To view a timeline of events in Ukraine's political crisis, click HERE.