Serial Questions

It’s proving harder than I thought to pick up where I left off with the series about Ukraine. So in good academic tradition, I thought I’d share my struggle with you, and my research questions, so you can help me get better.
In this series I attempt to answer the question: why are Russians and Ukrainians fighting in Ukraine (main question)? Prompted of course by the conflict that has been raging through especially eastern Ukraine since 2014. It provoked this question: why are there so many Russians living in Ukraine (Q1)?
Delving into the history of the country, I’m beginning to find out that each question just leads to a new one, even before an answer can be drawn up. Ukrainian nationalism was strong during the Cossack era (17th century), but was successfully suppressed by the imperial overlords of subsequent years. So how did it find its way back (Q2)?
If we look at 19th century Ukraine (and I feel that an answer to my main question must begin there), there were other ethnic groups living in what is now Ukraine, notably Poles and Jews. In addition of course to Ukrainians and Russians. The Poles were there because part of Ukraine (Galicia) had been part of Poland, until the Russian and Austrian Empires and the Prussians decided the world was better off without it (without Poland, that is). The Jews were there because the diaspora of the Jews stretched far and wide before WW2.
So what happened to the Polish influences in Ukraine (Q3)? What happened to the Jews (Q4)? Well, in broad terms, we all know what happened to them, but what happened, before, after, during? How did the imperial overlords quench Ukrainian nationalist sentiment (Q5)? How did the country get from an impoverished province of two empires, to a Soviet Republic (Q6), and why did it not just become part of the Russian Soviet Republic (Q6a)? How did it fare during the Soviet era (Q7)? Is this when all the Russian speakers came in (Q8 – spoiler: yes and no)? Why did Ukraine vote to become independent from Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union (Q8)? What has been its place in international politics since then (Q9)? And why did the Russian speaking Ukrainians rebel against Kiev when they did (Q10), and why has the Russian President Putin taken an interest (Q10a)?
To arrive, finally, at the main question. Why are Russians fighting for independence in the east of Ukraine? The closer you look at something the more details you can see. Even if each of these questions can be handled in one blog, it will take more than ten blogs (and weeks) to get to the bottom of this. But I’ll probably digress and take longer. I hope you’re now as curious as I am, and as excited to read those blogs as I am to write them. Do you miss a question in this list? Is there something you’d like to add? Any tips? Please comment or send me a message on Facebook.
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This is part three of a series about the history of Ukraine. Also read part one about Kievan Rus’ and part two about Ukrainian borders.

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