I was talking with an old friend (who did his Ph.D. with me decades ago) who was in the East Ukraine a few years ago with pro-Russian Ukrainians. He said he thought that if they actually took a referendum only 20% would vote to join Russia.
I’ve seen this statement several times in the last few days in the NYTIMES, etc.
I think there is a severe “data problem” here. E. Ukraine can mean the whole huge area E. of Kiev and the Dnieper River, or the several provinces near Russia, or Donetsk Oblast only, or the major cities like Donetsk near the border.
In addition, public opinion has been changing very rapidly in Ukraine as a whole, especially in the provinces near Russia which have been revolting against the Junta overthrow of the pro-Russian government they elected overwhelmingly.
It makes a big difference as well whether one is talking about “becoming provinces of Russia” or “becoming a republic aligned with Russia” or “becoming a Ukrainian province with very wide autonomy from Kiev” or…
When Abraham Lincoln called up massive troops to invade the South, even Virginia, which had not seceded, immediately seceded. Lee and Jackson warned him that would happen. He did it anyhow. It happened.
Americans north and south were divided in the early days of the drift into civil war, even after Fort Sumter began.
This is common individually and for nations caught in complex, conflicting identity struggles and social conflicts. “Copperheads” and other mixed kinds were a large part of the American population in the Civil War.
I experienced this myself in peaceful, non-anguished ways. I was born in Miami, Florida, in 1937 into a very old Southern family on my father’s side (from Georgia and other states going back into the shadows of history a few centuries ago) and very non-Southern on my mother’s side (English-Canadians who migrated to Miami in the early 1920’s). I always felt to some degree Southern, very anti-slavery and anti-discrimination, not a Yankee, but to some degree English-Scotch and very much outside of such conflicts. I happened to live all over America up and down social scales at different times in my life. I felt very American and still do as the U.S. government has turned against us Americans and enslaved us in a gigantic military-police fascist-communist tyranny. I have always felt that “real (original, libertarian, Constitutional) American” is my national identify.
The Kiev Junta overthrew the pro-Russian Ukrainian constitution and elected government. The Junta has now invaded the pro-Russian provinces next to Russia and used armor to attack in one city and surround others.
This is an attack on all the pro-Russian, anti-Kiev Junta people. This is profoundly affecting identities and political beliefs and actions, polarizing more and more of the masses against the Junta and many of those in favor of Russia, but in different ways.
The pro-Russians include Russian immigrants, Russian descendants, people with Russian family ties, and others.
Those people now feel the need for Russian protection, some more than others who want to fight Kiev alone.
The Russian rulers, most obviously Putin, tried desperately to hold the Ukrainian elected government together with huge aid to keep the U.S.-Nato away from their borders. They were shocked and outraged by the violent overthrow of that government and the seizure of power in Kiev by a military-police Junta which immediately started calling for Nato support and all the rest.
If I lived in the Ukraine near Russia I would be concerned above all to keep the U.S.-Nato War Against Russia-China-Iran-Iraq-Syria-Pakistan-Afghanistan-et al. totally out of my nation, state, and world. I would want good relations with my neighbors, as Washington urged Americans to always do, would want to be free of Kiev and Russia, but, if Kiev attacked me to bring in the U.S.-Nato Global War, I would reluctantly seek Russian protection for a friendly Republic of E. Ukraine. If necessary, I would go along with Russian union and probably flee to Chile or maybe even Tierra del Fuego to escape the U.S. Global Empire’s War Against Mankind that is engulfing all states worldwide in secret and open wars of all kinds.