Eyes are set on Ukraine. On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev with a rather hefty offer of $1 billion in American loan guarantees and pledges of technical assistance for Ukraine in ‘integrating’ with the West. Meanwhile, protests have been growing in momentum and violence since November when locals responded to President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a free trade agreement with the European Union. The government claimed that an alternative would be adopted; instead of the EU, Ukraine would join the Eurasian Customs Union – a body that has dominated the Ukrainian sphere of economy for a considerable amount of time.

But there is more to the picture that remains curiously absent in mainstream media’s analysis of the ongoing turmoil in Kiev: In addition to the police assaults against civilians camped out in Kiev’s Maidan (Independence Square), there is the menacing threat of inter-imperialist rivalries that are coming to a head. Russia’s most recent seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine has been termed as the worst standoff since the Cold War while the Moscow market dreads an all-out clash.

That said, limiting the current protests in Ukraine to the dichotomy of EU versus ECU is over-simplifying a complex political development that has been going on for years now. Most importantly, it obscures the reality of 46 million people formerly under Moscow’s rule until the breakup of the ex-USSR in 1991 and the Tsarist empire. The demands are simple and even more significant as Russian troops enter Crimea: The Ukrainian public braving a cruel winter in Kiev seeks democratic institutions and staunch opposition to the widespread corruption endemic to nearly all political parties of the country, whether it is the pro-Ukraine or pro-Russia elite.

A series of statements from the West – particularly that of the United States and Western European leaders – carry little weight and merely reflect a collective past of the same sort of hypocrisy now being condemned. This is not to mollify the gravity of Russia’s policy toward Crimea but to highlight the posturing of US and European leaders who maintain paltry concern for Ukraine and more of an investment in geopolitical interests under EU and IMF. International spectators should feel morally obligated to alleviate the plight of people instead of hauling it further into the ground. In this manic chaos, the ones who suffer the most – through state-sanctioned violence and foreign interference – are the common masses of Ukraine.