Five or so years back my brother (travelled a lot in his youth) did a road trip in Russia, crossed over near Finland (now part of NATO thanks to Putin’s miscalculation, with Sweden in the process of joining) then meandered back through Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazakhstan, then back through the south, Ukraine. Border crossing was tense but do-able at the time.
His verdict was that the cities are nice but the rest of the country is in a terrible state, desperately poor infrastructure, roads with holes you could lose a car in. Terrible housing, people living in medieval conditions.
Once he crossed the border back into Poland (EU) he said it was like Germany, great roads, modern infrastructure, modern housing.
Doesn’t suprise me the Ukrainians look to their Polish neighbours and want to emulate that rather than be a hooked up to a dysfunctional pariah.
Putin wanted less NATO on his doorstep, now he’s got more, much more, plus a war that is already lost, it just depends how he wants to lose it.
I will say Trump was right about Putin and Russia. I’ll give him that. He warned Germany and others against reliance on Russian Gas.