To be in a pickle means to be in a very difficult situation.
In my view, the number one problem is that in Ukraine there are two nationalities. Those in the North and West are Ukrainian speakers; those in the South and East are Russian speakers. I suppose this would be tolerable if Ukraine were a federated State like Switzerland with two distinct linguistic groups, but it is not; it is a centralized hierarchival State. Moreover, most citizens of Ukraine are bi-lingual. The tension is over domination and discrimination.
The second problem is irrendentism. Ukraine’s neighbor on the East is Russia. This means that like Hitler who annexed the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to Germany because this was the area of Czechoslovakia where the dominant language was German; so likewise, Putin annexed Crimea to Russia, and is fermenting trouble in the Donbass region of Ukraine. To add to this situation is the fact that these Russian speaking regions want to be part of Russia. They eagerly accept Russian passports.
The third problem is that both Ukraine and Russia have bad forms of government. I consider placing power in a single individual to be a form of dictatorship, as did the ancient republican Romans and Spartans. Rome placed power in two consuls who had veto power over each other. Sparta had two kings and five ephors checking them. Thus, power was spread as it is in Switzerland today between seven members of the Federal Council. In Russia there is the “dictator” Putin, while in Ukraine there is President Zelensky with a dubious linguistic standing and sympathies. In any case, both countries are subject to the whims of these individuals.
The fourth problem is that despite signing the Budapest Memorandum (1994) [ signatories: Ukraine, Russia, Britain, United States], in which Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a commitment to respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty, that guarantee has been broken by Russia under Putin by annexing Crimea and creating an ongoing Russian “hybrid” war in the Donbass. And the other signatories have reneged on their commitment to protect Ukraine.