Ukraine, on the eastern border of Russia, has historically been part of Russia, and part of Russian culture. Major figures in Russian literature, politics and music were born or lived in Ukraine, particularly in Kiev, the ancient capital. But the country lies between Russia and Western Europe. It is divided in culture, language, economy and politics between the ties to East and West.
The situation in Ukraine brings to mind unpleasant reminders of the August 2008 war in the separatist Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Ethnic divisions and ineffective government threaten to divide the country, which in the extreme case could descend into violence.
Pragmatically, in the near term, Ukraine should turn toward Russia. The synergies of Russia resources and Ukrainian industry are significant, and the EU is unlikely to match the level of economic aid that has been promised by Russia. In the longer term, Ukraine must develop its own resources, and trade that is aligned according to economic benefit, rather than political principles.
An update to this post was published on March 1, 1014.