TWO OF RUSSIA’S STRATEGIC ECONOMIC FACTOIDS:
1) “Russia supplies about a third of the European Union’s energy but that supply is responsible for 40 percent of the Russian government’s budget,”
2) “50% of Russians live off income provided by the government”
TWO DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS
“Even in Russian speaking areas, a minority want federal ties to Russia. The majority want a unified Ukraine”
“Only old people who remember communism want ties with Russia. The young want ties with Europe. In ten years the 15% who want ties with Russia will disappear.”
MY BIAS IN ALL THIS
I didn’t know all of this because while I live in Kiev, and Keiv is a “Russified” area (meaning everyone speaks Russian), I both associate with and employ young people in their 20’s. All of whom have some sort of extended family ties to Russia.
Ukrainian’s are very reserved, quiet and gentle people. I rail all the time about how I love them so much. And they sort of think of Russians as ‘rude, drunk people who start fights’ – but they’re cousins so to speak. So they’re like ill behaved family members. And when someone is behaving badly in public (or in my case, starting a fight in a club) you here “It’s Ok. (he is/they are) Russian.” (My favorite weapon is the ubiquitous ceramic coffee mug. Much better than brass knuckles, and less visible than bottles, which also break.)
So I don’t have a lot of experience with people who look to Russia. Everyone I know looks to Europe for the future, and to Russia for family. And Until I’ve started to see reliable polls, I simply have been using voting data to tell me what people think. And it turns out to be “vote for people like me” just like everywhere else. But only a weird minority want to be something other than Ukrainian. An those that do, too many are part of the gangster-tribe out of Donetsk that knows if they lose their ‘protection’ from the (russian sponsored) government, then the gangster days are over. The older people who were better taken care of under communism I agree with and sympathize with. But the only moral position that I know how to take on this matter is self determination. and the numbers are pretty clearly, universally in favor of “I’m a Ukrainian”.
Now my personal bias is obvious:
(a) I have invested a good portion of my worth here and I don’t want to risk it because of external aggression.
(b) I watched people I care about fight for freedom from one of the world’s most corrupt governments – a vast criminal enterprise that preys on people that I love.
(c) I believe I must support self determination. In no small part because that is the problem MY PEOPLE face.
(d) I don’t think to much of the Russian government, and I shouldn’t, but I freaking love russians – more so than I americans. I would rather spend my time with russians than with americans. And I love everything about them. I just am not sure this is a people who are terribly good at self government for very complex cultural reasons.