From an email to a friend:
Well, there’s no way in hell it’ll be a fair vote. They will vote to join Russia. That’s guaranteed. I mostly feel sorry for the affront to Ukrainian sovereignty, for the Ukrainians and Tartars living in Crimea, for the fact that Russian hooligans burned Ukrainian language books in Crimea. I feel angry that Ukrainians are surprised Russia didn’t honor the deal that involved Ukraine giving up its nukes in 94 in exchange for a guarantee of territorial integrity. Russian betrayals of treaties are a prominent feature of Ukrainian history. We should stop being such suckers.
So I feel sad and angry for all of these things, but I would not feel bad for the loss of Crimea, or for eastern provinces. I think it would make Ukraine stronger. I’ve Tweeted that Ukraine should do with its Russified areas what Israel did with Gaza. This is anathema to many nationalists, but until we achieve an armed citizenry and a bit of warrior culture, it’s the practical solution, especially when we live next door to a drunken bear.
And yes, I’ve been paying to attention to the marches in Moscow and elsewhere. Those are the internal divisions I was talking about in my DB essay. If NATO or the USA arrived, the anti-war movement in Russia would vanish.
Everything that I’ve read about Crimea indicates that it’s a heavily subsidized region, so making it Russia’s problem would help Ukraine economically.
Wrt the east. Regular people there are desperately poor. Yes, they have big industrial bases, but it seems to create oligarchs instead of creating wealth. Here’s what a writer from Donbass said after visiting Lviv: https://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/donbas-seems-to-be-a-place-with-no-future-125549.html
I suppose tax revenue is a legitimate concern, though the oligarchs are of the political class so perhaps their industries are excused from taxes. I don’t know.
If you look at a map of protest victims, you can also accuse the east of free riding on sacrifice of western Ukrainians: http://romaninukraine.com/map-of-protest-victims-by-region/