The roots of the recent events in Ukraine go back to the Second World War and the Yalta Conference, when the fabric of Eastern Europe's future was woven.
If the 1938 Munich Agreement was the prologue to the war, then the Yalta Agreement in 1945 was its final chapter. Among other things, it was agreed that Ukraine, then an independent state in the Soviet Union, would annex parts of eastern Poland, including the city of Lwow, renamed Lviv. Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin did not have many illusions about the loyalty of the Ukrainians, many of whom cooperated with the Germans during the war, which is why he saw to it that areas with Russian populations also became a part of Ukraine.
The arrangements made at the Yalta Conference fell apart when Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin were in charge, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine gained full independence. Yet it soon became clear that this Russian-Ukrainian national and ethnic hybrid creation -- especially in light of the difficult memories from the time of Stalin and the war -- had hit a wall of mutual hostility and conflicting interests: The population in the country's east wanted to stay as close as possible to Russia, while the west and central areas aspired to join the Western world in general, and the European Union in particular. All the while, Russia continued to stir the pot, defying the Ukrainian majority, acting behind the scenes, and sometimes out in the open, to ensure that its protege sat in the presidential palace in Kiev, unlike what happened during the short-lived Orange Revolution. More