The current tensions over the Russian actions in the Crimea are not only controversial, but confusing for many because this region of the world is one that simply isn't well known to most in the U.S., unless one happens to have Ukrainian, Russian, or Polish roots. The border regions between East and West have a long, complex and unstable history. There is a clever map video online that illustrates this by showing the borders of the region over the last 1000 years. How many of us knew there once was a Polish-Lithuianian empire that ruled over much of the Ukraine for example? Or that Russia proper was once something of a backwater, and Kievan Rus the dominant power?
We have many books in our catalog about this part of the world. Article databases like Historical Abstracts would be useful too. Our research guide to countries has many useful links and resources listed also.