1. The Ukrainians sought closer economic ties (not membership) with the European Union.
2. This made Vladimir Putin mad. Russia doesn’t like it’s former republics having closer ties to the west.
3. Russia encouraged the Russian speaking separatists in the Crimean Peninsula to hold a referendum on independence from the country of Ukraine.
4. The above happened.
5. Russia, in effect, annexed a large portion of Ukraine (the Crimea) by less than legal means.
6. A war, for all practical purposes, begins.
7. Russian speakers who live in the eastern half of Ukraine are encouraged to “pull a Crimea”.
8. Russia backs these efforts by sending guns, money, and ultimately troops.
9. The Ukrainians, who had just overthrown their pro-Russian president about the time the will we-won’t we dance with the EU crisis started, finally get their stuff together and send troops to attack those who want to secede from Ukraine.
10. You’ve got civil war between the western and eastern half of the Ukraine. You have a war, (people are dying in armed conflict with Russian troops-really who’s getting hung up on semantics) between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. This is how we got here.