Russia has some new real estate, which it has vowed to defend just like it does its old real estate. If the U.S. and NATO try to take it back on behalf of Ukraine, it could quickly escalate to all-out war. Does “all-out” mean nuclear? From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:
In 1922 Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, head of the revolutionary Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, decided that several regions which for centuries had been Russian and under Russian rule were to be put, for reasons unknown, under the administration of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. In 1954 a similar decision was taken with regards to autonomous republic of Crimea.
biggerThe sudden disintegration of the Union in 1991 led to unruly phases in the newly created republics. Ethnic Russian people suddenly found themselves in territory that was no longer ruled by Moscow. In several of the new countries ethnic non-Russian majorities started to suppress the Russian minorities. Today’s Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are to various degrees prime examples for this.
Before 1991 the Ukraine had never existed as a state or independent entity. The early Cossack tribes in the yellow part and green parts of the map had asked for Russian protection against attacks from Poland, Lithuania and other neighbors. In the new Ukraine ethnic Russians were nearly half of the population and the parties they supported managed to win several countrywide elections. Big voting differences were visible along regional/ethnic lines. The country had strong economic relations with Russia. Its industry depended on Russian gas while nearly all its machine and steel exports went to Russia.
The U.S. did not like that. It wanted to control rule the Ukraine to be able to put pressure on Russia. It twice, in 2004 and in 2014, organized ‘color revolutions’ to overthrow elected Ukrainian governments which, for mostly economic reasons, tended to favor relations with Russia.
The 2014 color revolution was exceptionally brutal. The U.S. had organized extreme right wing groups to take the lead in violent protests. (The same groups were in the early 1940s allied with German Nazis and, between 1948 and 1952, were waging a CIA led guerrilla war against the Soviet Union.) The street fighting ended with an unconstitutional change of the government of Ukraine.