The underlying historical reality motivating so much of what is going on in the Ukraine is described in separate articles by George Weigel and Roger Scruton.
An excerpt from George Weigel.
What with the impending centenary of the outbreak of World War I, it’s understandable that commentators should reach back to the European crisis of 1914 for possible parallels to the European crisis of 2014. But watching the “debate” in the upper house of the Russian parliament on March 1, as the solons “considered” President Vladimir Putin’s “request” for “authorization” to deploy Russian armed forces in Ukraine, the thought occurred that the proper analogy to all this is not Sarajevo 1914, but Berlin 1935, when the German Reichstag approved the notoriously anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws. The same dynamics were in play: blatant racism and xenophobia, a crude and violent nationalism impervious to moral scrutiny, the multiplication of lies by ranting lawmakers. Amidst the polymorphous moral confusions of postmodernity, Nazism is perhaps the one available icon of unambiguous and unadulterated evil; that iconography should not be marred by inappropriate analogizing for the sake of rhetorical effect. But the utter abandonment of reason, decency, and honesty in Moscow 2014 did seem eerily familiar.
That those Russian parliamentarians, and the Putinesque “managed democracy” they embody, will not face serious internal opposition from Russian leaders who might be expected to challenge xenophobic nationalism in the name of higher truths was made painfully clear a day later. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of Russian Orthodoxy, shares a KGB background with President Putin and leads a Church that, as a senior Catholic official once put it to me, “only knows how to be chaplain to the czar — whoever he is.” For years now, Kirill and his “foreign minister,” the youthful Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, have been engaged in a massive campaign of seduction aimed at the Vatican, American Evangelicals, and other vibrant and influential Christian forces in the West — a campaign putatively in aid of forging a united front against decadent secularism and materialism. The true public face of the Russian Orthodox leadership, and its continued fealty to the dominant Kremlin line, were made unmistakably clear, however, when Patriarch Kirill’s spokesman, the ironically surnamed Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, issued a most non-comical statement urging Ukrainians not to defend themselves and their country against Russian aggression and occupation.
Retrieved March 5, 2014 from http://www.nationalreview.com/article/372403/ukraine-and-lent-george-weigel
And from Roger Scruton regarding the Communist influence.
There are some important lessons to draw, concerning the last 25 years of dream-diplomacy. Few of the current generation of West European politicians have had to wrestle with the inner nature of the Soviet Union, or to explore the deep psychology of those like Vladimir Putin and his circle, who were formed as secret police officers under communism. It is the Orwellian aspect of this psychology that seems to me to have eluded our politicians – the aspect so brilliantly and prophetically described by George Orwell in 1984.
The fundamental observation that dictates the scenario of Orwell’s novel is that truth is our only defense against manipulation, and that when truth is confiscated by power, we are helpless. That is what Lenin and Stalin perceived. Hence they set up a system of government in which truth was entirely plastic, to be shaped and reshaped by decrees from the ruling politburo, and to be fed to the people and to foreign powers in the form and the quantities that would be most useful to the business of social control. We see this process at work today.
The Russians claim that their actions are necessary to protect the Russian population in Ukraine, to ensure stability in the region, to counter the threat from fascist or extremist elements. And false documents, photographs, and alleged conversations are immediately produced in order to turn these lies into truths.
Retrieved March 6, 2014 from http://www.eppc.org/publications/understand-ukraine-must-remember-communist-past/