Here’s a digest of the digest: Essentially the country is split approximately in two by rival sympathies. One faction has more support in the East– and is more influenced by, and feels more connection with, Russia. The other faction feels closer to the EU.
It’s a bit more complicated than “feeling closer” one way or another. The largest ethinc groups in the south and west of the Ukrain are ethnic Russians who speak – yeah – Russian.
Another problem: Russia’s warm water fleet is quarted at bases in the Crimea, which is the most Russian part of the entire Ukraine. The Crimea used to be Russian, but the USSR “ceded” it to Ukraine in the 1950s, a time when the notion of an independent Ukraine was unimaginable.
There is no way Vladimir Putin is going to let the only realistic warm water base for the Russian Navy come under the sway of the EU or NATO. One of the strategies he’s been using is to hand out bucketloads of Russian passports to ethnic Russian Crimeans. The logic here is to provide an excuse for a “military intervention to protect Russian citizens in the Crimea,” should Putin decide to make that grab.
My bet is that he will. I mean, who is going to stop him? Obama?
Not to mention that even if Obama were somehow turned into George Patton or Doug MacArthur, our military options in the region – absent outright war with Russia – are somewhat limited. And nobody, including Putin, thinks we will go to war with Russia over the Crimea.
In other words, watch for that region to continue to heat up, and expect Putin to make a major move before President Gutless Pussy leaves office.