In 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych won all of the country’s Russian-speaking provinces and lost all the others. The recent protests have intensified this split:
Ukraine’s ethno-lingistic political division is sort of like the United States’ “red America” and “blue America” divide, but in many ways much deeper — imagine if red and blue America literally spoke different languages. The current political conflict, which at its most basic level is over whether the country will lean toward Europe or toward Russia, is part of a long-running and unresolved national identity crisis. Yes, it’s also about Yanukovych’s failures to fix the economy and his draconian restrictions against basic freedoms. But there’s so much more to it than that, which helps make the crisis so intractable.