We tend to view events like the protests/proto-revolution in Ukraine as protestors for freedom=good/evil government=bad. And that view is valid to a certain extent.
For centuries, Ukraine has been under the thumb of first Imperial Russia, and later the Soviet Union. It served as the breadbasket of the Russians, with its vast productive wheatfields feeding millions. Indeed, a major objective of the Nazi invasion of the USSR was to procure those farmlands for themselves. It also has an educated, productive work force, with a good degree of industrialization. It was a major center of Soviet economic and military power. Finally, it also served as a significant geographical buffer between Russia and its traditional foe to the west, the Germanic peoples.
Because of his long service in the KGB, we sometimes consider Vladimir Putin to be a communist. He’s not. He’s a Czarist. Oh, he probably doesn’t intend to have a son succeed him to the throne, but there’s little doubt that he is pursuing a foreign policy designed to pull traditional satellite states back to their “proper” colonial status, as vassals of Moscow. From the vicious campaigns in Chechnya, the assault upon Georgia, and supporting the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine, Putin is seeking to return to Russia that which he (and a goodly number of his people) see as their due.
And as passionate as the protestors in Kiev are, and as much as we admire their goals of liberty, we have absolutely no way of judging if they are even close to a majority of the citizenry of Ukraine. Don’t forget, there is an existing power structure in Ukraine, and for some, it is preferable to the alternative. They have stable businesses, have prosperous trade with Russia and other former Soviet Republics or they are more comfortable with the certainty of the current regime (particularly pensioners) than with the economic uncertainty of any Ukrainian alignment with the EU, itself wracked with structural economic problems.