I worked with a number of Ukrainians. And I spent a wonderful week in Kiev several years ago (for Eurovision). The people I met there were friendly, open, and by & large seemed happy. And they were comfortable complaining about their government, talking optimistically about their future, and seemingly happy with their life.
And it wasn't just the people. There were a ton of large new buildings going up. In the old downtown area lots of renovation. The other buildings were in good shape. The parks were beautiful. This was a country investing in the future.
Next door is Russia. There are three entities that can threaten Russia militarily - the U.S., the E.U., and China. Russia knows none of those three will threaten or invade them. There are economic pressures that can be brought to bear (and the West is doing so). But Russia can withstand those because they are a substantial supplier of oil, gas, and several raw materials. The big economic threat to Russia is renewables & nuclear power - and that takes a lot of time.
But Ukraine threatens the Russian government directly - by example. Ukraine shows the Russian people that a Slavic country can emerge from a kleptocratic dictatorship and become a functioning democracy. And they can effectively slowly, oh so slowly, reduce corruption. That they can have a happy productive life like their neighbors in Europe.
That example is the biggest threat that exists to the Russian government. It is the one force that can bring down Putin and his fellow kleptocrats. This is what drove him to invade.
And this is also why the Ukrainians will fight back. Not just as an army, but where Russia takes control, as an insurgency. Because better to fight and die than to give up what they created.
Russia will lose. They can decide how long to stay there fighting. But eventually the price will be too high and when it is, they will leave. Because the Ukrainians will never stop fighting.
Best to everyone in Ukraine. And to everyone in America, when you talk to candidates for federal office, ask them what are they doing to support the people in Ukraine.