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I wonder what would Ukraine look like today if their development took a different shape after 1990.

Wikipedia: "Ukraine was initially viewed as having favourable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union."

Let's say that there would not be as huge corruption as it actually was, so the country would not get ruined, and their development would resemble that of Czechia.

The West would be more interested in shaping Ukrainian economy in 1990s and finally it would join the EU in 2004 and NATO in 1999 or 2004, alongside with other post-socialist countries.

I am wondering what would Ukraine-Russia or even West-Russia relations look like today. I think that Ukraine would resemble Baltic states in the sense that they share border with Russia, they have significant Russian minority, but since they are NATO members, Russia doesn not dare to attack them. So Crimea and Donbass would not happen and there might even be less tension in Europe than it is today.

How right/probable are my assumptions?

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As you probably know, this is a board to help people write consistent settings for their games, novels, and whatever. In this case:

You can justify either decision.

  • In power politics, analysts talk about "red lines" where a country would take violent action to defend their interests. One could argue that control of the Crimea is a Russian "red line," and that they would have wanted to act before Ukraine could take steps toward joining the EU and NATO -- be it 1999, 2004, or 2016.
  • On the other hand, Russia was in internal turmoil and their leadership might have been preoccupied with that.
  • Could Russia have acted back then? Their forces were weaker, but the West was distracted by Afghanistan and Iraq. You can build your setting either way.
  • To make things even more complicated, a move of Ukraine towards NATO would take years, and Russia would be affected by that. The Russian disillusionment with the West would have started earlier and their armed forces might have been reinforced earlier.
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