Suddenly, a relatively obscure country named Ukraine is in the news. The drama has been accelerated by Russia's invasion of the autonomous pro-Russian Crimea Republic, and America is expected to do something.
Ukraine is an economic and political basket case, and deeply corroded by a culture of public and private corruption. However, the country's importance is amplified by its being saturated with Russian owned natural gas pipelines that heat a large chunk of Europe. The gas is harvested in Russia, and the supply and prices are arbitrarily decided by Russia. Whoever owns Ukraine's government controls the vital distribution of gas into the European Union's heartland, which mostly means Germany. In fact, the EU could be accurately renamed GEU for German Economic Union.
Russia won't lose Ukraine anymore than America would lose the Persian Gulf shipping lanes. None of the contenders are concerned about what's best for Ukraine, and its people are too divided to have much influence. The country has been manipulated and exploited by more powerful neighbors for centuries, and wasn't any less ruthless than her worst abusers when given the opportunity; Ukraine was a Nazi ally and criminally complicit in the Holocaust.
The Cold War is over and we shouldn't automatically assume that Ukraine would be better off as a German satellite. America's only legitimate position is to support genuine self-determination for the Ukrainian people, even though it's a long-shot.