But not Ukraine. It's chaotic, yes, but free and democratic as hell.
LOL. You couldn't be further from the truth. They have a "free market", sure, I'll give you that, but it's a free market in the American sense. Quality of services and products do not matter beyond some bare minimum, as friendships, kickbacks, manipulative marketing practices and sheer piles of money have orders of magnitude more influence than anything else. They have such a free market that you can't even buy proper food in many places, because nutritional content is a rather expensive thing and it's been optimized out where possible. That is perfectly in line with a functioning free market, by the way, and I'm not exaggerating here. The milk you buy in stores is almost entirely made of milk powder (you can increase milk content by paying more, but you can't just *get milk* like you can anywhere just accross the border), and that's just normal. 2-to-3-ton SUVs are the *majority* of traffic (!) in the capital and if you see a Hummer driving down THE SIDEWALK people are just getting out of the way because they are more afraid of the asshole driving it than they are of getting run over. Money just elevates you out of the population without any sort of need for control. You open your mouth against any random asshole, that happens to have a lot of it (and they are all over the place), and you get rammed off the road and beaten to a pulp or simply shot by members of the armed forces. Is that your definition of freedom and democracy?
This country needed the EU a lot more than the EU needed it; it is run by barbarians, and is still a place where might makes right. The parallels to the USA are hard to ignore but the Ukrainians simply never even experienced what freedom is. In the USA, at least in the past, some people did get that chance, and can now remember what it was like.
(Disclaimer: I just got back from there. The above applies to the - comparatively Western - capital. Everywhere else the divides are hundreds of times worse, and that's before you even consider the conflict.)