Also a home of a population rejecting any Kiev government since their president’s ousted.
Well, then count me among the thoroughly confused. I’ve listened quite a lot to Stephen F. Cohen on the John Batchelor show. He’s considered one of the foremost experts on Russia, for whatever that’s worth. He’s been on the Batchelor show pretty regularly for upwards of 3 years. I don’t consider him an “apologist” for Russia/Putin (as many do) but he *does* try to get inside their heads to try to understand “where they’re coming from” to use a hackneyed phrase..
From what I gather, he claims the Russia-bordering areas of Ukraine (Donetsk, Donbass) are highly industrialized and closely connected to Russia from the cultural standpoint. He claims people there primarily associate with Russia and generally consider themselves Russian. He claims the Western part of Ukraine is much more agricultural, and while it certainly has value due to its food production, it is backwards and rural in many ways, closer to Europe, and it was in this section of the country where popular sentiment wanted to join Europe and thereby modernize. This dichotomy forms the basis for the divisions in Ukraine.
Those are my impressions from listening to Cohen. I’m sure they are incomplete.