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All you people and your military reasons a d chitchat for this.
It's such a simpleton argument "Russia does this cause NATO and Ukraine joining NATO" is not even a small fraction of what this is about.
Ukraine is in no way close to joining NATO, it was not NATO's intention anytime soon and even if they officially applied, they would in no way be allowed to join NATO due to their own imstability and failing governmental structure (corruption being the main issue). And even if that were solved, many European NATO countries are opposed.to them joining for strategic purposes. Simply said, it wasn't on the table at all.
Now to add my own stuff. What Russia really wants from their neighbouring eastern european countries is influence. Being aligned with Russia politically as buffer states between them and Western Europe. The reason this tension exists is historical and much too complicated to explain in a simple post but can be summed up (not conclusively mind you) by Russia feeling "surrounded" by western nations who, in the eyes of Russia, cannot be fully trusted not to want what Russia has. A second thought here is that the Russian elite believes they were abandoned to fend for themselves by the west after the Soviet Union collapsed and are not seen as full European partners by the west. They also feel we've taken advantage of the chaos of 1990s Russia by expanding NATO and the EU to eastern europe during that time. It was never in treaties that this wouldn't be done but some Western leaders in the 90s have said things to that end (NATO/EU will not go east) in informal discussions.
But now the real kicker. The Russian elite is deathly afraid of their own citizens revolting against their government which has an authoritarian flavour and is palgued by rampant corruption and the elite gobbling up all the wealth.
Ukraine comes into this by flirting with pro western tendencies moving closer to Western influence rather than Russian. That fear of revolt means that they cannot allow Ukraine (or Belarus, or Georgia, or Moldova) to become succesfull countries under this western influence.
Under all circumstances must be avoided that these countries follow the path of Poland or the baltic states, or it will risk the stability of the Russian government.
Keep in mind that in 1991, when the Soviet Uniom collapsed, the population, economy and overall situation of Poland and Ukraine was pretty much equal. In the last 30 years, and especially the last 20 after Poland joined the EU, these tables have turned dramatically where the Polish economy is now 3 times the size of Ukraine and living standards have improved dramatically.
This process cannot be allowed to occur in the former Soviet republic states like Ukraine and Belarus.
Every time these countries reach out to the West, Russia steps in. Last year you saw that with the "elections" in Belarus. You saw this in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia after a pro-western government was in power and started having talks with NATO and the EU on possibly entering these organisations. And you saw this again with Ukraine/Crimea in 2014 when the pro-Russian government refused to sign exploratory trade agreements with the EU and mass protests ensued, resulting in the ousting of the pro-russiam government, and the following elected pro-western governments actually going ahead with these EU trade agreememts.
So all in all, please don't think this is a purely military affair. It's only a military affair because that's the only real power the Russian government has and is familiar with. In every other aspect, Russia is regrettably an incredibly weak state.
(Would really love to see a future where Russia is an open society with a respectable government and economy and where it's people don't have to suffer so much for the benefit of a few)
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