Russia is a giant energy company with a country attached to it. Putin certainly has a tribal affinity for his people and their shared history. He is a proud Russian. He exists, however, as long as Gazprom is generating tens of billions of dollars in profits for the Russian ruling elite. Like any CEO, he is not in charge because they like him. He is there to make sure the stock holders make money, even if that means people get killed.
Ukraine will never be allowed to drift into the NATO orbit by the Russians. The people can do what they like, but the Russians will always be there to undermine their efforts to break free from the bear. It is not just money involved, there’s history. The French and Germans have marched through Ukraine enough times for the Russians to think it is necessary to make Ukraine a wall to keep out the next European flood. That may seem ridiculous to the Western ear, but it is baked into the Russian DNA. There’s also Ukraine itself.
The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.
The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.
Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.
They have a few articles on Ukraine that are worth reading. Steve Sailer touched on something the other day worth considering. Western Europe sorted through it’s tribal division over many centuries of warfare. Poles mostly live in Poland. Czechs mostly live in Bohemia. Germans mostly live in Germany. A thousand years of fighting it out has settled the boundaries, for the most part. There remain pockets of trouble, like the Walloons and Flemish, but not enough to die for or even kill for.
Eurasia is another matter. The Russians have been the dominant ethnic group for a 1,000 years in some areas, despite being a minority. Ukraine has been a part of Russia since the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Instead of sorting out the territorial and cultural matters, they have remained bottled up. Ukraine is not a rational country as drawn because it is not ethnically rational. Perhaps what we are seeing there now is a preview for the region as the tribes begin to assert themselves and sort through their territorial disputes.