The people of Ukraine hate Russia and russians with a passion (well, they have a history). Russians don't like Ukraine or its people but they have to deal with them to sell natural gas to europe because their main gas line goes through Ukraine.
I don't think this describes situation accurately. Most people of Ukraine DO NOT hate Russia. Even western parts were mostly indifferent, beyond telling of jokes and occasional blamestorm, but eastern parts seem to be pro-Russian even now, when there is a danger of military invasion. Russians, on the other hand, do not dislike Ukraine or its people. I mean, why would we? Ukrainians are fellow Slavs, and while there was some resentment over them providing a source of cheap labour after the fall of USSR, they were driven from that market by Southerners long time ago. There is VERY little dislike for Ukraine in Russia, especially with the rise of anti-Caucasus moods.
Now, here's my take on situation, directly from Moscow, specially for the fellow allegro.cc users .
First, I have no doubt that both western powers and Russian government do not have the best interests of Ukrainian people in mind. For everyone involved at a higher level, this is just a part of the great game, with Ukraine a mildly important token and its people (including its rulers) just pawns.
If viewed from a purely human level, Ukraine is a tragedy, a country pulled apart by meddling of third parties. Unfortunately, I can't see how this could be stopped now.
As a part of the great game of politics, Ukrainian events seem like American operation. Why? Because Russia actually would win nothing from instability in Ukraine. Even mildly anti-Russian government would be preferable to chaos, from economic and politic standpoints. Did you know there is already a stream of refugees from Ukraine into Russia? That stream would turn into freakin' raging river if a war of any kind started. And NOBODY needs refugees.
European countries, of course, would want to put a more pro-Western government in power, but they also have no need of war or chaos. After all, Ukraine is dangerously close to Europe, and refugees from western parts of the country will certainly try to make their way into Poland and Germany. Does Europe need thousands of refugees from Ukraine? Certainly, no. Does it need chaos in country which controls gas pipe? A bigger NO.
USA, however, could gain some points by creating a war zone between Russia and Europe. It would drive these two powers apart even further (that visa agreement that Russia and EU were talking about for past several years? I think it's off the table already, as are many business deals). It would create problems for both Russia and EU (while many view The West as some united entity, one should not forget that there are no permanent alliances in politics, and USA and EU certainly have some competing interests; therefore, creating problems for already-ailing EU might be a worthwhile goal for some US politics. For example, an influx of Ukrainian refugees may lead to closing of borders between European countries).
Anyway, SOMEONE is pushing the new Ukrainian government to be more radical. The current situation would not arise, if only Rada did not cancel a law that awarded Russian language, which is widely spoken in eastern part of the country and Crimea a special status. There was simply no need to cancel that law right now, even for nationalist party that seems to be in power presently. It could very well wait until things quieted down, a rule of central government has been fully restored and agreements with EU forged. But they went and did it anyway. I think it was done on purpose, to provoke fear of repressions in Eastern Ukraine and, indirectly, provoke Russians into acting. When the goal of government of a country in time of crisis is to turn temperature up, it's obvious that such a government is not acting in the best interests of their own country, but rather in someone else's interests.
All of this, however, does not excuse total failure of Russian politics in Ukraine. A bet on Yanukovitch was a disgrace: not only the man hadn't any integrity (after all, USA has no doubts about installing less-than-stellar rulers in other countries, when they need to), but he also was unreliable and when crisis came, he flip-flopped so many times you could use him to generate electricity.
An armed intervention into Crimea would be a PR disaster and would, most certainly, alienate people of Ukraine further. The cost of annexation of Crimea is just too much, for very little benefit beyond securing a base for Black Sea fleet, which could be done far more cheaply. And I'm pretty sure that Putin has no plans for invading and conquering the whole of Ukraine. Even if he succeeded, and western powers would do nothing to stop him (which seems unlikely), it would be impossible to HOLD captured territories. Russian army would be bound in an endless guerilla warfare, long-lasting PR nightmare and what's most important, it would all be for no benefit at all.
The biggest loser of all possible scenarios would be Ukraine and its people, of course. Beyond that, it remains to be seen if Russia could salvage something of this situation, but the USA, or whoever organised this provocation, has already won: Russia responded predictably, tarnishing its already-less-than-nice reputation, alienating some part of Ukrainian population, which didn't give Russia much thought before, and possibly entering a costly land combat operation.
A colleague of mine, who is visiting our office on a trip from Odessa, mostly expresses the view of "plague on both of your houses" regarding Yanukovitch and the new government. It's just some anecdotal evidences, of course, but I think that this sentiment might be more widespread than either Western or Russian TV news might lead you to believe.