I Googled “reasons to join Russia” and “why Donbass wants to join russia” In Russian, “почему донбасс хочет в россию”
There does not seem to be an answer! The best reason I can come up with is “to avoid being killed by the Russians.”
The only list I found was in justification of the referendum in Crimea. The five strongest points were:
1. Everyone basically supports it anyway.
2. Only “right-wing radicals” are opposed.
3. The business investment environment in Russia is far superior to Ukraine.
4. Observers from Hungary, Serbia and Greece are cool with the referendum.
5. Moscow is extremely generous and already giving humanitarian aid to Crimea.
These would be weak even if they had been true, but they after the referendum it is clear that they are transparently false. Business activity has plummeted, unemployment and prices have risen, and individual liberties have disappeared. The indigenous Tatars have been ruthlessly suppressed.
The reasons not to join Russia have been known for centuries. Custine noted 175 years ago in “Letters from Russia” that “Deceit is built into every stratum of Russian society,” and “Russia’s lack of creativity dooms them to be perpetual imitators” – if not thieves, and “Russians do not know how to exercise freedom; they seek a strong master.” Russians have been trying for centuries, without success, to force Europeans to be like themselves. Europe has always, in the end, prevailed. It is wary.
The Donbass, the borderland dividing Russia and Europe proper, was a curious place even before Maidan. It was the center of Ukrainian economic activity and the homeland of the president and many ruling oligarchs. Yet, it was at the same time a mined-out, deteriorating rust belt of depressed, drug- and alcohol-addicted men with the worst health, life expectancy and attitudes in the country. As in America, such dropouts are easily led to blame “the man.” The Kremlin helpfully pointed out, via Russian-controlled television, that “the man” was embodied by Ukrainian-speaking Fascists in Kiev.
The targets of this propaganda could not recognize that Kiev is overwhelmingly Russia-speaking, and that the last Fascists were dispatched in 1945. Some bought it.
Putin is playing a weak hand. There is no advantage (aside from not getting shot by Russians) to abandon Ukraine. Putin does not wrap himself in any ideology such as communism or even religion. He has only the use of force.
Putin began his attack using “little green men,” unprincipled Cossack and Chechyan mercenaries. They are, however, few. If he is going to conquer and occupy Ukraine, it must be by a conscript army. The Soviet Union fell when conscript armies and puppet politicians refused to impose Moscow’s will through force of arms.
Russia has little industry; the income stream it uses to pay soldiers and placate civilians comes from natural resources. Sanctions, and the direct economic damage done by Putin’s wars have eroded that income stream. He will not have the money to impose his political will on unwilling peoples in the long term. Let us hope that not too many die as that fact makes itself apparent.