Matthew Iglesias and “Ukraine and the End of History”
Just before reaching the real thing. It helped me to understand that Russia tried to dominate Ukraine through ethnic interests and bought politicians (Yanukovych and Paul Manafort), but the Ukrainians, including the Russian-speaking Ukrainians, realized economic progress and moved towards military occupation. In Poland, Hungary and other countries they have merged with Europe.
So the real threat to Putin is EU membership.
In February 2013, under Yanukovych and with his allies enjoying a majority in parliament, Ukraine was ready to ratify an association agreement with the European Union. Putin did not like it and instead pressured Yanukovych to strike a deal with Russia. In November 2013, Yanukovych agreed, sparked widespread protests and eventually led to a dignity revolution, with Putin sponsoring separatist uprisings in Crimea, 2 and Russia’s Donbass region.
Since then, Ukraine has become increasingly less fragmented.
The pro-Russian party lost power in 2014 when it became clear that being pro-Russian was “voluntarily giving up your best chance for economic development” instead of “a lot of Russian-language programs on TV.” And this is because the pro-Russian party was ultimately controlled by Moscow and it did not reflect the interests and aspirations of the Russophones Ukrainians. It has kept the Russian opposition in the driver’s seat for years, but they have not done a great job of running the country. This led to Zelensky’s landslide victory in 2019, where he did much better in the east of the country than in the west. Zelensky is a local Russian speaker, and part of his platform was more open to negotiations with Russia to end the Donbass conflict.