Ethically or ethnically?
More pertinent: the autocratic/democratic line isn’t quite as grey as you suggest. Among Putin’s friends is a single state that has a claim to be democratic. And I’m not sure that they value their friendship a lot since Putin refused to lift a finger when Armenia got run over in the autumn of 2020.
Among the eastern EU Member States, the least democratic seems ready to lend P a hand (or is that a negotiation trick?), the others are the core of the EU’s hard line in favour of Ukraine
2004 Orange Revolution was under GW, US backed, modeled after OTPOR perhaps.
The second theory makes some sense for me as a East European.
All of these debates come from our current year inability to say the truth about nations, states, peoples and what binds a tribe to a land. It's irrelevant the tribe's constructed or purely a biological entity. What matters is how that tribe sees itself, and how intensely.
Most East European states have been built in opposition to multicultural empires and around a perceived tribe or ethnicity. Saying openly they are (imperfect) ethnostates makes you an evil nazi, but in their hearts, the people from the dominant ethnicity, like Hungarians, Romanians, Poles KNOW IT and consider the ethnic state the most legitimate form of statehood and organizing, that can transcend communism, socialism, fascism, liberalism and whatever the favorite ideology of the era might be.
If we were less cowardly and more open about what we are in East Europe, we would have less war, not more, IMHO.
The autocracy vs democracy theory is idiotic and only works for Western libs. Ukraine is not liberal nor democratic, although it might wear the mask at times to please the people that help with weapons.
Sad state of affairs.
PS: part 2 that explains the confluence of nationalism and democracy is great. Democracy does not mean liberalism. It can obviously be illiberal and nationalistic. Liberal Democracy with capital letters is yet another Western myth and refusal to understand East Europe.
if you want to explain why it rains there are many level of explaining it.
the basic one, is about droplets of water.
on an higher explanation level, clouds are made of water droplets. Within a cloud, water droplets condense onto one another, causing the droplets to grow.
the next step of explanation refers to clouds: why and how they form. i.e analysing all the many factors connected to clouds. wind, temperature, humidity, etc.
same for war: you can basically explain it talking about "aggression". this is like saying it rains because of water drops....
or indicating the "cloud" from where the rain comes from.
if you really want to understand a war, its real causes, you need a larger historical view, the influence of external factors , and much more.
fact is that in the mainstream they often talk about "droplets". how many, fromm which cloud .
sure, this is easier than explaining external factors.
in this way, you can attribute responsabilities to a single bad cloud...
I would argue the ethno-nationalism could have been contained, but for US hegemonic intervention.