Paul Goble has summarized a piece by the Ukrainian journalist Bogdan Butkevich, 10 Reasons Why the Donbass Will Not Become Ulster. I’ve been saying some of these things here and elsewhere but a Ukrainian perspective is more valuable.
Some quotes – first, on the recency of settlement:
Until the mid-19th century, “this territory was practically empty.” It acquired importance because of industrial development, something that attracted people from throughout the Russian Empire and USSR regardless of ethnicity and who were mixed together once they got there…
The majority of the people of the Donbass have been there no more than two or three generations…
Second, there is no religious divide in Donbas(s), “despite efforts by Russian propagandists to spark one,” and ethnic differences are not the driving force of the conflict:
Ukrainians and Russians “are fighting on both sides,” and “the chief role in the conflict is played not by nationality [Butkevich probably meant ethnicity] but by worldview factors,” with those supporting a liberal democratic order being for Ukraine and those supporting “national conservatism” backing Russia.
And the worst of the difference:
The Number of Victims. Over almost 40 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, an estimated 3,000 to 8,000 people were killed or less than 250 per year on average at most. In the Donbas, the number of killed is more than 5,000 and may be as much as 10,000 – and that in one year, not 40.
[Added retroactively] Also see the UN casualty count as of December 2015: 9,009 dead, about 20,000 injured.