Barry, My Liege :
Here's the best I can do about Ukraine. Before the current war, it was and is a failed state. It is so corrupt that the population depends on foreign aid for food and fuel. Half the population, in the more industrial east, is very Russian in language and customs. The Ukrainian language is similar to Russian. Both Ukrainian and Russian speaking easterners were pro-Ukraine and did not want to join or move to Russia including those who emigrated west from there. There was a small minority who wanted to break away and join Russia. This is the group Putin co-opted into the war.
The western, more agricultural population half was and is very pro EU and, although friendly to Russia and Russians, did not want any formal ties. There was and is a small minority of literal Nazi holdovers from World War 2 who hate Russians and want to kill them all. This group forms militias, provokes violence and has legislative representation. Most likely this group started violence in most of the recent incidents. There are no facts available to me which support this hypothesis.
The US supports this half of the population in its quest for EU membership. The recent Orange revolution was sponsored by the US. After the failure of the revolution a strongman dictator took power. He favored Russia over the EU. His stance caused riots. He then pivoted to supporting EU membership. He was clearly over his head. He fled to Russia.
After that, Putin started the violent breakaway of the eastern half of the country and annexed Crimea. Crimea has been 100% Russian and is a major naval and military base as well as a beautiful resort city. That war continues with US support for the Kiev, western government and Russian support for the breakaway eastern half.
At the moment the Kiev government is run by a billionaire who seems to have some smarts as well as the advantage of being immune to bribery because he is already rich. The US recently installed an American/Ukrainian woman as finance minister. The US position is that we want the war to continue and we want to take the oil. This is evidenced by the recent law.
The Kiev government has initiated the detailed systematic overhaul of its internal procedures required by the EU for membership; this will take a few years to complete. In the meantime, the government will need about $20 billion more or less to prevent mass starvation. Hundreds of thousands of Russian favoring easterners have emigrated to Russia. Putin's dilemma is that his government is in financial difficulty and cannot afford the costs of supporting the eastern half, but he broke it so he bought it.
The only factors which can come close to explaining any part of this fiasco are greed, stupidity and fear. You can take your pick.
We had better get a handle on this soon or will will regret it.
Your faithful servant,
PS: Please read this for addtional background: http://www.mkeever.com/ukraine.html