I have also been there. It was rather depressing.
Everything you wrote matches what I discovered there, and have gleaned from discussions with my Ukrainian wife and her friends and family, although I would add an additional detail: NATO is also smart, ambitious and jealous, and eagerly wants to add Ukraine to its member states, by fair means or foul. They certainly (like Putin) have plenty of 'boots on the ground' in the form of psyop 'advisers' (i.e. spooks, agitators, saboteurs and propagandists). We have, in short, the two most sophisticated propaganda outfits in the world fighting an information war. Any truth about the conflict is therefore as rare as rocking-horse shit.
Rule of thumb: If a discussion of Ukraine is presented as clear-cut, with 'obvious' good guys and bad guys, it's propaganda, from one side or the other. Don't think for one minute that the Western mainstream media is telling the truth about Ukraine. Most of the people propagating these stories can't even name Ukraine's neighbouring states.
From my own research, FWIW, I have learned there are essentially two sets of gangsters. Those that pretend allegiance to Russia, and those that pretend allegiance to the EU. The various governments since the orange revolution have swapped between these two groups, via the ballot, or through other, less democratic means. Locking up, or exiling the outgoing leader is almost a requirement. Punch-ups in parliament are not unusual. Both sides are almost wholly corrupt.
I'd also like to point out that there is a sizeable minority that are not at all interested in the 'zero-sum-game' of being exclusively allied with the one or the other 'side', desperately want peaceful co-existence, and would prefer that both Slavic language groups should have equal status, equal rights etc. You never hear about these folks, of course. IMO, these people are the sane ones. Why are the liberal democracies of the West not supporting those guys instead?
Then there's the Tartars, that neither side cares much about. Arguably they, rather than either group of Slavs, have the strongest historical claim to Crimea. Every so often they're brought in as a political football, but both sides have shown close to zero interest in the genuine self-determination for the Tartar minority. There are other ethnic minorities too (as you should expect from the biggest country wholly in Europe), but you can grok that in your copious free time.
There is a huge, underemployed, well-educated workforce, plenty of underused agricultural land, and abandoned factories, stuffed with silent machine-tools. The resources to build the economy are there, but the prevailing neoliberal ideology (strongly encouraged by NATO and the EU) pretty much forbids state investment. Which leaves the private sector to rescue this failing nation, and well, if you actually manage to get a business off the ground, the gangsters will visit, looking for a cut of your profits. More recently (as the gangsters increasingly move into government) they have been doing this through swingeing taxes, but the adverse effect on the economy is much the same, only the menaces are different.
The latest government also pretends to be nationalists, some of them are actual fascists with ghastly 'final solution' fantasies, but instead of boosting the local economy, in practice, they now import almost everything from the EU, and have ramped down local production massively, impoverishing the country still further. This is untenable, of course, and will probably lead to another sudden and violent flip-flop to the pro-Russian side at some point. But the gangsters continue to make hay while the sun shines. It's expected. Learned helplessness in the face of open corruption is the norm.
Anyone who thinks a 'NATO-friendly' Ukrainian government is unambiguously better than a 'Russia-friendly' Ukrainian government has not studied the situation in much depth. It's a rotten state of affairs, that deserves more nuanced analysis than that.