Conflict & Justice

What you need to know about the 6 groups embroiled in Ukraine's crisis


French President Francois Hollande (L) speaks with US Secretary of State John Kerry (C), and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (R), as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walkter Steinmeier (2nd L) and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov (3rd L) discuss in the background on March 5, 2014.




Trying to keep track of the organizations involved in Ukraine's crisis is almost like trying to read a swirling alphabet soup.

It can be hard for even the most well-read to keep up with the rapidly-evolving crisis.

Here, GlobalPost takes a look at some of the acronyms you'll see in daily coverage, what they stand for, their role in Ukraine, and how much power or influence each group has:

UN (United Nations)

What it is: An intergovernmental organization, established in 1945, aimed at promoting international cooperation and preventing another world war. The UN currently has 193 members.

Role/influence in Ukraine: Both Russia and Ukraine are members of the UN, and the organization has the power to impose sanctions or send peacekeepers to the region to quell rising tensions. A special envoy sent to Ukraine by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week was forced to leave early after he received several threats in Crimea.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

What it is:political and military alliance of 28 North American and European countries formed in 1949 and tasked with maintaining security and stability among its members.

Role/influence in Ukraine: NATO members don't hold legally binding ties to Ukraine, although Western officials have been supportive of the protest movement that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. 

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe US General Philip Breedlove said last week the alliance has no military plans to support Ukraine if attacked. His predecessor believes that should quickly change.

NATO has already suspended the planning of its first joint mission with Russia, and said it had put all its cooperation with Russia under review. 

G8 (Group of Eight)

What it is: A forum for the governments of eight of the world's leading industrialized nations. Membership currently includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union.

Role/influence in Ukraine: Russia could be shut out of the G8 over its aggressions in Crimea, according to Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague. That could be especially awkward as Russia was due to host the next meeting of the G8 in Sochi later this year. Britain and France have already pulled out of the preparatory talks. Hague said the group could meet somewhere else, instead, as the G7.

EU (European Union)

What it is: An economic and political union of 28 member states located primarily in Europe. The monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002. Currently, 18 of the member states use the euro as their legal tender.

Role/influence in Ukraine: President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to suspend talks with the EU in November was the spark that ignited the massive protests that ultimately led to his ouster.

Many Ukrainians want the country to develop a closer relationship with the European Union to foster economic growth and reforms, but Russia is opposed. EU leaders have offered $15 billion in aid to Ukraine in the wake of Yanukovych leaving.

IMF (International Monetary Fund)

What it is: An international organization created in 1945 to foster global growth and economic stability. It currently has 188 members.

Role/influence in Ukraine: Russia and Ukraine are both members of the IMF. The EU's $15 billion in aid is still contingent upon Ukraine striking a deal with the IMF on a longer-term aid package. Relations between the two have been rocky in recent years, but indications are that an agreement can be struck. IMF officials are currently in Ukraine on a fact-finding mission, which they said Friday is "progressing well."

OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe)

What it is: Headquartered in Vienna, it is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization and is tasked with keeping the peace, arms control, monitoring human rights and ensuring fair elections and freedom of the press.

Role/influence in Ukraine: OSCE observers have been unable to enter Crimea as they attempt to monitor Russia's rapidly-growing military presence there. The group had to turn back over the weekend, when warning shots were fired at it.

On Monday, Russia's RIA news agency reported that Ukraine's Crimea region — the current focal point in the Ukraine crisis — invited the OSCW to send a mission to observe Sunday's referendum on joining Russia.