Ukraine, the spot of recent violent political upheaval, is pivotal to Russia's defence, much like it was during the days of the Cold War.

Bordering Russia, Ukraine has always been strategic to Russia's defence. Even now, as anti-government protesters violently clash with riot police in Kyiv's central square, Russia is concerned about Western influence on its neighbour, reports CBC's Neil Macdonald.

Russia is highly protectionist and any trade alliance between Ukraine and the European Union, which the protesters want, would threaten the profits of Russian businesses, he said.

Russia is also interested in how events are unfolding in Ukraine because it believes the nation to be broadly within its sphere of influence, said William Pomaranz of the Woodrow Wilson Institute, and may believe that anything that happens in Ukraine could also occur in Russia.

On Wednesday, a Russian spokesman said the country will use all of its influence to tame Ukraine, even comparing protesters to early Nazis and calling their actions "American sponsored terrorism," Macdonald reports.

Watch his account of Ukraine's global influence in the video above.