I'm guessing the Ukrainians have played a sorta similar role to the Russians that the Irish did to the British - so it's not really surprising that there's a lingering resentment even today. The Soviet occupation probably also had a role. However, I'm really not that familiar with that part of the world.
Tr00 dat. I think the Irish Catholics vs. Proddies squabble is absurd, but the Balkanoids really take this to a new level. Maybe we should start a thread on this?
Throughout history it always seems to be the case that any two peoples closely related will hate one another. The closer you are the harder you have to work to maintain your identity.
This is especially the case with Ukraine, many of whom learn either Polish or Russian because their careers depend on it. It's a sad s that Kyiv is pretty much bilingual and most of the donetsk/kharkiv region is lost.
Ukraine for Ukrainians! Death to the imperialist Muscovites!
I guess this is the critical bit - how much of the modern state "Ukraine" is traditionally Russian-speaking, and how much is "Ukrainian" in the same sense as Western Ukraine? Are places like Odessa a part of "the real Ukraine"? Do the borders on the map really correspond to an organic Ukrainian nation-state?
It seems these are the "Balkanoid issues" of Ukraine. Not sure how solvable they are, someone more familiar with the area probably knows better.
The borders of modern Ukraine do not correspond to an organic Ukrainian nation-state.
Crimea has been very Russian ever since it was colonized by Catherine the Great and historically there was a presence of Ukrainian speakers in the eastern regions. Even today many of the Russian speakers of the eastern regions identify themselves as Ukrainian. A clear ethnic line cannot be drawn because the region has always been highly mixed and settlement of the region has been quite complex.
Ultimately there is no organic Ukrainian identity. Ukrainian national identity as we know it today did not emerge until the 19th century. In reality the Ukrainians are made up of non-Russian, east Slavs that were historically known as Ruthenians or Rusyns. They are a diverse group themselves consisting of sub-Rusyn identities such as Lemkos, Bojkos or Hutsuls to name just a few. However due to the imperialist policies of Poland and Russia these groups felt pressured to embrace one another as fellow Ukrainians as a way to resist Russification or Polanization. Thus there arose an Ruthenian intelligentsia that did not want to lose their own unique culture and who saw a common identity in their shared Ruthenian experience.
Although Ukrainian nationalism is quite artificial it is reflective of a shared Ruthenian heritage which is both organic and separate from Russian identity.
As for your question about how solvable this issue is I would have to say it isn't solvable. The modern Ukrainian state is highly divided. It is a failed state. Although I doubt it would ever devolve into a Balkan crisis.
I'll build on Bohdan's post later, but suffice it to say that there is a huge Jewish population here in Toronto from L'viv and you will never, ever, ever encounter one that will refer to him/herself as Ukrainian, instead they will always insist on calling themselves Russian.