The current rising tension between NATO and Russia over Ukraine can be explained by the 2nd paragraph of the introduction of this book:
“If God had built mountains in Ukraine, then the great expanse of flatland that is the North European Plain would not be such encouraging territory from which to attack Russia repeatedly. As it is, Putin has no choice: he must at least attempt to control the flatlands to the west. So it is with all nations, big or small.”
Indeed, Ukraine plays the role of a geographic buffer for Russia against the North European relative flatlands. Because there’s no mountains like the Himalayans (that provide natural borders between China and India), Russia “needs” to control the immediate countries that borders with NATO-allies Europe. Hence, their vested interest on controlling Ukraine and Belarus.
Tim Marshall also argues that if Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova ever going to join NATO it will spark a war. This scenario is like Canada or Mexico decide to join the Russian alliance (remember the Cuban missile crisis?)
And so, here we are. With NATO trying to lure Ukraine into joining them, Putin, as a reaction, is trying to put a Kremlin puppet in Ukraine so that they won’t join NATO.
Because for Russia to lose control over Ukraine is like China losing their strong grip over Xinjiang (which borders with 8 other countries in China’s West). It’s all about geographic buffers, while the natural resources are bonuses.
So who’s to blame in this scenario? All of them. It’s assholes against assholes, playing politics and war games over someone else’s country. Ukraine is analogically caught in the middle of a custody battle between 2 toxic parents.