Ukraine has never been important to the US population in any way. It IS important, mostly in its unmatched corruption, to our own political money launderers (and probably yours), to our military's weaponized pharma experimentation, and finally, of course, to all of our western globalist cartel for whom Russia is the prized piece that keeps refusing to get onboard the train to humanity's enslavement and destruction.
Less than a decade ago NATO was an outdated outfit in existential crisis, searching for a reason to stay relevant and alive. As it turned out, all they needed to do was break treaties and spread eastward, closer to the Russian border, exactly as they had promised not to do. (The real NFiH knows this history, no matter his personal viewpoints of it. I am sure of it.)
At the same time, the coup against an elected leader in Ukraine, checkmated by the breakaway vote in Crimea (butthurt West still calls it an annexation), to prevent the goal of challenging Russia's naval port and sea access in the region, which is exactly what was next in the western globalist plan in that coup, of choking Russia out with a slowly tightening noose around its borders.
Now NATO gets wonderful gifts. The leaders placed in these formerly opt-out countries now have an excuse to "demand" membership on behalf of their people's fears and memories of wars past, fears which are reminded to them by their own MSM constantly. NATO has newfound life at last! So do American weapons contractors and their shareholders. EVERYBODY WINS!
In years to come, you will see similar naval conflict on their Arctic border with attempts to cut Russia off from its own natural resources and swipe them away. Similarly, you will see outside forces attempting to foment revolt in all those shaky "nya" and "stan" areas. This is the plan, anyway. It's really not a secret. Russia is a place with VAST natural resources, the 6-course meal that makes globally ambitious shadow figures and the Larry Finks of the world salivate. While they plot to kill off all the useless hordes of humanity while currently feeding us endless media narrative streams of successive global crises, they simultaneously daydream of the immense power they will one day have over the entire plant. Oh, to be GODS! (While they keep trying to figure out this whole immortality-transhumanism thing. They are so SURE technology will get them there eventually.)
I like some things about Russia, but that's not why I route for them. I route for them for the same exact reason many Americans voted for Biden. The difference is, I arrived at my views in spite of the information aggressively fed to me from all directions, because I wanted to build my own beliefs, not passively absorb them like a sponge.
Sounds like your niece is smart. How young? I sense she may already be an adult if you are already a curmudgeon. (Never hurts to ask.)