"Welcome to Hell," is what the new Ukrainian Prime Minster and probable next Presdent Arseniy Yatsenyuk said to journalists in the centre of Kiev last night.
The Ukraine consists of the West, the East and the Crimea. In the West (60% of the population) they speak Ukrainian - a Slavic language which shares more than half its words with Russian - and want to join the EU, and in the East (40% ish) they speak Russian and want to join a Russian bloc comprised of Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus.
Meanwhile the Crimeans speak Russian and about 60% of them actually work for the Russians in their naval base at Sevastopol. (The other 40% presumably depend massively on the spending of the first 60% for their livelihoods.)
The lure of the West is EU membership, the euro currency and hard currency loans from the IMF. The East offers unlimited oil and gas from the vast Siberian oil fields and membership of a newly emerging super-power. President Putin openly refers to the Ukraine as a "region" not a country - and this is the attitude of Russians generally and plenty of Ukrainians think that is just fine.
The downfall of former (technically: current) President Viktor Yanukovych was orchestrated by an American organisation called the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED is funded by the US taxpayer and while notionally an independent think-tank has a tacit brief to steer revolting countries towards "democracy" ie, into the American camp. The NED produces the propaganda, and runs a paramilitary force called the Euromaidan Security Patrol - these are the guys who were at the front of the protests in Kiev when the government was overthrown. At the moment they have uniforms but no guns. That may change soon, not the uniforms!
(#Euromaidan is the twitter hash tag used to coordinate the overthrow of the government and has now given its name to the movement itself. The "euro" part is obvious and "maidan" means town square and tells the protesters where they should meet. The NED is using the techniques it developed for the Arab Spring in 2011.)
So the West is using subterfuge and the promise of loans and eventual access to the famed Western freedom, in the form of EU membership.
The Russians have more tangible gifts to offer. At the moment they are pumping subsidized oil and gas into the Ukraine, which is keeping the Ukrainians warm at night, the lights on, the cars moving, and their outdated and inefficient industrial wheels turning.
Subsidized, because the Ukrainians cannot afford the open market price. The difference is being rolled up in the form of a big fat US$30bn debt. If the Ukraine jumps West their first loans will have to be given to the Russians anyway just to keep the country functional. The Russians also offer "security" in the form of tanks openly operating on the streets of Sevastopol and fighter jets openly violating their airspace.
One possible model for how this is going to pan out is the 2008 South Ossetia war when the Russians invaded Georgia to "protect" their citizens from the ethnic Georgians. That ended with a comprehensive Russian victory and effective annexation of a good deal of Georgian territory.
The coming days will be quite interesting.