Ukraine, a vast country flanked by Russia on one side, the Black Sea to its south and an array of fellow former communist states, is – it seems – at the centre of creeping power struggle between east and west.
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has so far failed in establishing a new kind of empire to its west, having lost its old political and economic dominance over old subjects.
Now, apparently, it is waging a bullying, diplomatic war with Ukraine, installing barbed wire fencing along its border and finding fault with Ukrainian exports.
But Ukraine, with a population of 46 million, is surely destined to become one of Europe’s major powers as this century drags on.
It’s well worth remembering the suffering of the people of Ukraine through the 20th century – whether at the hands of SS infamous Einsatzgruppen death squads in the 1940s, or through Stalin’s twisted project in ethnic cleansing in the 1930s.
We have a Welshman (and former Western Mail journalist), Gareth Jones, to thank for exposing Stalin’s cruelty which led to the deaths of 10 million people – undoubtedly Europe’s worst humanitarian disaster and perversely one of its least remembered.
Jones uncovered the great famine in the Ukraine in the 1930s – the Holodomor – defying a state ban to go and see the disaster with his own eyes.
The Holodomor has since been hushed up by the Soviet Union and there has been a similarly secretive attitude in the post-Communist Russia.
People were so desperate for food in the famine between 1932 and 1933 that some resorted to cannibalism.
Many historians agree that the famine was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing on behalf of Stalin, who was stamping out a rise in Ukrainian nationalism.
A few years ago, I interviewed the BBC investigative journalist John Sweeney, then making a radio documentary about Jones, about whom he spoke passionately – and his theory of why the Barry-born reporter died in China in 1935.
“I think it’s quite likely that Stalin ordered Jones’ execution because he defied Stalin and told the story of the appalling famine,” Sweeney told me.
While Jones is now revered in Ukraine, Russia continues to sweep the central part it played in the dreadful famine well under the carpet.
Ukrainians have only become fully aware of the events since the fall of communism.
There are always warnings in history from which we can learn.
As Russia and its satellites continue assert themselves in the post-communist era, they could do well to remember the fatal mistakes of the past, exposed by a brilliant Welsh journalist.