Sovereign state in eastern Europe
Top 10 Ukraine related articles
- 1 Etymology and orthography
- 2 History
- 2.1 Early history
- 2.2 Golden Age of Kyiv
- 2.3 Foreign domination
- 2.4 Cossack Hetmanate
- 2.5 19th century, World War I and revolution
- 2.6 Western Ukraine, Carpathian Ruthenia and Bukovina
- 2.7 Inter-war Soviet Ukraine
- 2.8 World War II
- 2.9 Post-World War II
- 2.10 Independence
- 2.11 Orange Revolution
- 2.12 Euromaidan and 2014 revolution
- 2.13 Civil unrest, Russian intervention, and annexation of Crimea
- 3 Geography
- 4 Politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Print sources
- 12 External links
"Derzhavnyi Himn Ukrayiny"
(English: "State Anthem of Ukraine")
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages|
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic|
|18 August 1649|
|23 June 1917|
|1 November 1918|
|22 January 1919|
|24 August 1991|
|28 June 1996|
|603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi) (45th)|
• Water (%)
• March 2021 estimate
(excluding Crimea and Sevastopol) (35th)
• 2001 census
|73.8/km2 (191.1/sq mi) (115th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
low · 18th
high · 74th
|Currency||Hryvnia (₴) (UAH)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||UA|
Ukraine (Ukrainian: Україна, romanized: Ukrayina, pronounced [ʊkrɐˈjinɐ] (
The territory of modern Ukraine has been inhabited since 32,000 BC. During the Middle Ages, the area was a key centre of East Slavic culture, with the powerful state of Kievan Rus' forming the basis of Ukrainian identity. Following its fragmentation in the 13th century, the territory was contested, ruled, and divided by a variety of powers, including the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. A Cossack republic emerged and prospered during the 17th and 18th centuries, but its territory was eventually split between Poland and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination emerged, and the internationally recognized Ukrainian People's Republic was declared on 23 June 1917. After World War II, the western part of Ukraine merged into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the whole country became a part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Following its independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state; it formed a limited military partnership with Russia and other CIS countries while also establishing a partnership with NATO in 1994. In 2013, after the government of President Viktor Yanukovych had decided to suspend the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement and seek closer economic ties with Russia, a several-months-long wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Euromaidan began, which later escalated into the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that led to the overthrow of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government. These events formed the background for the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the War in Donbas in April 2014. On 1 January 2016, Ukraine applied for the economic component of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union.
Ukraine is a developing country ranking 74th in the Human Development Index. It is the poorest country in Europe alongside Moldova, suffering from a very high poverty rate as well as severe corruption. However, because of its extensive fertile farmlands, Ukraine is one of the largest grain exporters in the world. It also maintains the third-largest military in Europe after Russia and France. Ukraine is a unitary republic under a semi-presidential system with separate powers: legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The country is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the GUAM organization and is one of the founding states of the CIS, even though it never became a member of the organization.
Ukraine Intro articles: 48
Etymology and orthography
There are different hypotheses as to the etymology of the name Ukraine. According to the older widespread hypothesis, it means "borderland", while some more recent linguistic studies claim a different meaning: "homeland" or "region, country".
"The Ukraine" used to be a frequently used form in English, but since the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, "the Ukraine" has become less common in the English-speaking world, and style-guides warn against its use in professional writing. According to U.S. ambassador William Taylor, "The Ukraine" now implies disregard for the country's sovereignty. The Ukrainian position is that the usage of "'The Ukraine' is incorrect both grammatically and politically."
Ukraine Etymology and orthography articles: 4
Neanderthal settlement in Ukraine is seen in the Molodova archaeological sites (43,000–45,000 BC) which include a mammoth bone dwelling. The territory is also considered to be the likely location for the human domestication of the horse.
Modern human settlement in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains. By 4,500 BC, the Neolithic Cucuteni–Trypillia culture flourished in wide areas of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia.
Beginning in the sixth century BC, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Chersonesus, were founded on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. These colonies thrived well into the sixth century AD. The Goths stayed in the area, but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s AD. In the seventh century AD, the territory that is now eastern Ukraine was the centre of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions, and the Khazars took over much of the land.
In the fifth and sixth centuries, the Antes were located in the territory of what is now Ukraine. The Antes were the ancestors of Ukrainians: White Croats, Severians, Polans, Drevlyans, Dulebes, Ulichians, and Tiverians. Migrations from Ukraine throughout the Balkans established many Southern Slavic nations. Northern migrations, reaching almost to the Ilmen lakes, led to the emergence of the Ilmen Slavs, Krivichs, and Radimichs, the groups ancestral to the Russians. After an Avar raid in 602 and the collapse of the Antes Union, most of these peoples survived as separate tribes until the beginning of the second millennium.
Golden Age of Kyiv
Kievan Rus' was founded in the territory of the Polans, who lived among the rivers Ros, Rosava, and Dnieper. Russian historian Boris Rybakov came from studying the linguistics of Russian chronicles to the conclusion that the Polans union of clans of the mid-Dnieper region called itself by the name of one of its clans, "Ros", that joined the union and was known at least since the 6th century far beyond the Slavic world. The origin of the Kyiv princedom is of a big debate and there exist at least three versions depending on interpretations of the chronicles. In general it is believed that Kievan Rus' included the central, western and northern part of modern Ukraine, Belarus, and the far eastern strip of Poland. According to the Primary Chronicle the Rus' elite initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia.
During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became the largest and most powerful state in Europe. It laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kyiv, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus'. In 12th–13th centuries on efforts of Yuri the Long Armed, in area of Zalesye were founded several cities similar in name as in Kievan Rus' such as Vladimir on the Klyazma/Vladimir of Zalesye (Volodymyr), Galich of Merya (Halych), Pereslavl of Zalesye (Pereyaslav of Ruthenian), Pereslavl of Erzya.
The Varangians later assimilated into the Slavic population and became part of the first Rus' dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus' was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid kniazes ("princes"), who often fought each other for possession of Kyiv.
The Golden Age of Kievan Rus' began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus' toward Byzantine Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus' reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. The state soon fragmented as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir II Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus' finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav's death.
The 13th-century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus'. Kyiv was totally destroyed in 1240. On today's Ukrainian territory, the principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi arose, and were merged into the state of Galicia-Volhynia.
Danylo Romanovych (Daniel I of Galicia or Danylo Halytskyi) son of Roman Mstyslavych, re-united all of south-western Rus', including Volhynia, Galicia and Rus' ancient capital of Kyiv. Danylo was crowned by the papal archbishop in Dorohychyn 1253 as the first King of all Rus'. Under Danylo's reign, the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia was one of the most powerful states in east central Europe.
In the mid-14th century, upon the death of Bolesław Jerzy II of Mazovia, king Casimir III of Poland initiated campaigns (1340–1366) to take Galicia-Volhynia. Meanwhile, the heartland of Rus', including Kyiv, became the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, ruled by Gediminas and his successors, after the Battle on the Irpen' River. Following the 1386 Union of Krewo, a dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania, much of what became northern Ukraine was ruled by the increasingly Slavicised local Lithuanian nobles as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By 1392 the so-called Galicia–Volhynia Wars ended. Polish colonisers of depopulated lands in northern and central Ukraine founded or re-founded many towns.
In the Black sea cities of modern-day Ukraine, the Republic of Genoa founded numerous colonies, from the mid-13th century to the late 15th century, including the cities of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi ("Moncastro") and Kiliya ("Licostomo"), the colonies used to be large commercial centers in the region, and were headed by a consul (a representative of the Republic).
In 1430 Podolia was incorporated under the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland as Podolian Voivodeship. In 1441, in the southern Ukraine, especially Crimea and surrounding steppes, Genghisid prince Haci I Giray founded the Crimean Khanate.
In 1569 the Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and much Ukrainian territory was transferred from Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, becoming Polish territory de jure. Under the demographic, cultural and political pressure of Polonisation, which began in the late 14th century, many landed gentry of Polish Ruthenia (another name for the land of Rus) converted to Catholicism and became indistinguishable from the Polish nobility. Deprived of native protectors among Rus nobility, the commoners (peasants and townspeople) began turning for protection to the emerging Zaporozhian Cossacks, who by the 17th century became devoutly Orthodox. The Cossacks did not shy from taking up arms against those they perceived as enemies, including the Polish state and its local representatives.
Formed from Golden Horde territory conquered after the Mongol invasion the Crimean Khanate was one of the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the 18th century; in 1571 it even captured and devastated Moscow. The borderlands suffered annual Tatar invasions. From the beginning of the 16th century until the end of the 17th century, Crimean Tatar slave raiding bands exported about two million slaves from Russia and Ukraine. According to Orest Subtelny, "from 1450 to 1586, eighty-six Tatar raids were recorded, and from 1600 to 1647, seventy." In 1688, Tatars captured a record number of 60,000 Ukrainians. The Tatar raids took a heavy toll, discouraging settlement in more southerly regions where the soil was better and the growing season was longer. The last remnant of the Crimean Khanate was finally conquered by the Russian Empire in 1783.
In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was formed by Dnieper Cossacks and by Ruthenian peasants who had fled Polish serfdom. Poland exercised little real control over this population, but found the Cossacks to be a useful opposing force to the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two were allies in military campaigns. However the continued harsh enserfment of peasantry by Polish nobility and especially the suppression of the Orthodox Church alienated the Cossacks.
The Cossacks sought representation in the Polish Sejm, recognition of Orthodox traditions, and the gradual expansion of the Cossack Registry. These were rejected by the Polish nobility, who dominated the Sejm.
In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Petro Doroshenko led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king. After Khmelnytsky made an entry into Kyiv in 1648, where he was hailed liberator of the people from Polish captivity, he founded the Cossack Hetmanate, which existed until 1764 (some sources claim until 1782).
Khmelnytsky, deserted by his Tatar allies, suffered a crushing deafeat at the Battle of Berestechko in 1651, and turned to the Russian tsar for help. In 1654, Khmelnytsky was subject to the Pereyaslav Council, forming a military and political alliance with Russia that acknowledged loyalty to the Russian tsar.
In 1657–1686 came "The Ruin", a devastating 30-year war amongst Russia, Poland, the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman Empire, and Cossacks for control of Ukraine, which occurred at about the same time as the Deluge of Poland. The wars escalated in intensity with hundreds of thousands of deaths. The "Treaty of Perpetual Peace" between Russia and Poland in 1686 divided the lands of the Cossack Hetmanate between them, reducing the portion over which Poland had claimed sovereignty.
In 1709, Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709) defected to Sweden against Russia in the Great Northern War (1700–1721). Eventually Tsar Peter recognized that to consolidate and modernize Russia's political and economic power it was necessary to do away with the Cossack Hetmanate and Ukrainian and Cossack aspirations to autonomy. Mazepa died in exile after fleeing from the Battle of Poltava (1709), in which the Swedes and their Cossack allies suffered a catastrophic defeat.
The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk or Pacts and Constitutions of Rights and Freedoms of the Zaporizhian Host was a 1710 constitutional document written by Hetman Pylyp Orlyk, a Cossack of Ukraine, then within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It established a standard for the separation of powers in government between the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches, well before the publication of Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws. The Constitution limited the executive authority of the hetman, and established a democratically elected Cossack parliament called the General Council. The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk was unique for its period, and was one of the first state constitutions in Europe.
The hetmanate was abolished in 1764; the Zaporozhian Sich was abolished in 1775, as Russia centralised control over its lands. As part of the Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the Ukrainian lands west of the Dnieper were divided between Russia and Austria. From 1737 to 1834, expansion into the northern Black Sea littoral and the eastern Danube valley was a cornerstone of Russian foreign policy.
Lithuanians and Poles controlled vast estates in Ukraine, and were a law unto themselves. Judicial rulings from Kraków were routinely flouted, while peasants were heavily taxed and practically tied to the land as serfs. Occasionally the landowners battled each other using armies of Ukrainian peasants. The Poles and Lithuanians were Roman Catholics and tried with some success to convert the Orthodox lesser nobility. In 1596, they set up the "Greek-Catholic" or Uniate Church; it dominates western Ukraine to this day. Religious differentiation left the Ukrainian Orthodox peasants leaderless, as they were reluctant to follow the Ukrainian nobles.
Cossacks led an uprising, called Koliivshchyna, starting in the Ukrainian borderlands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1768. Ethnicity was one root cause of this revolt, which included the Massacre of Uman that killed tens of thousands of Poles and Jews. Religious warfare also broke out among Ukrainian groups. Increasing conflict between Uniate and Orthodox parishes along the newly reinforced Polish-Russian border on the Dnieper in the time of Catherine the Great set the stage for the uprising. As Uniate religious practices had become more Latinized, Orthodoxy in this region drew even closer into dependence on the Russian Orthodox Church. Confessional tensions also reflected opposing Polish and Russian political allegiances.
After the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire in 1783, Novorossiya was settled by Ukrainians and Russians. Despite promises in the Treaty of Pereyaslav, the Ukrainian elite and the Cossacks never received the freedoms and the autonomy they had expected. However, within the Empire, Ukrainians rose to the highest Russian state and church offices.[a] In a later period, tsarists established a policy of Russification, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language in print and in public.
19th century, World War I and revolution
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the territory of today's Ukraine was included in the governorates of Chernihiv (Chernigov in Russian), Kharkiv (Kharkov), Kyiv 1708–1764, and Little Russia 1764–1781, Podillia (Podolie), and Volyn (Volhynia)—with all but the first two informally grouped into the Southwestern Krai.
After the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774), Catherine the Great and her immediate successors encouraged German immigration into Ukraine and especially into Crimea, to thin the previously dominant Turk population and encourage agriculture. Numerous Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks moved into the northern Black Sea steppe formerly known as the "Wild Fields".
With growing urbanization and modernization, and a cultural trend toward romantic nationalism, a Ukrainian intelligentsia committed to national rebirth and social justice emerged. The serf-turned-national-poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861) and the political theorist Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895) led the growing nationalist movement.
Beginning in the 19th century, there was migration from Ukraine to distant areas of the Russian Empire. According to the 1897 census, there were 223,000 ethnic Ukrainians in Siberia and 102,000 in Central Asia. An additional 1.6 million emigrated to the east in the ten years after the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1906. Far Eastern areas with an ethnic Ukrainian population became known as Green Ukraine.
Ukrainians entered World War I on the side of both the Central Powers, under Austria, and the Triple Entente, under Russia. 3.5 million Ukrainians fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army. Austro-Hungarian authorities established the Ukrainian Legion to fight against the Russian Empire. This became the Ukrainian Galician Army that fought against the Bolsheviks and Poles in the post-World War I period (1919–23). Those suspected of Russophile sentiments in Austria were treated harshly.
World War I destroyed both empires. The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the founding of the Soviet Union under the Bolsheviks, and subsequent civil war in Russia. A Ukrainian national movement for self-determination emerged, with heavy Communist and Socialist influence. Several Ukrainian states briefly emerged: the internationally recognized Ukrainian People's Republic (UNR, the predecessor of modern Ukraine, was declared on 23 June 1917 proclaimed at first as a part of the Russian Republic; after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Ukrainian People's Republic proclaimed its independence on 25 January 1918), the Hetmanate, the Directorate and the Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (or Soviet Ukraine) successively established territories in the former Russian Empire; while the West Ukrainian People's Republic and the Hutsul Republic emerged briefly in the Ukrainian lands of former Austro-Hungarian territory.
The short-lived Act Zluky (Unification Act) was an agreement signed on 22 January 1919 by the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic on the St. Sophia Square in Kyiv. This led to civil war, and an anarchist movement called the Black Army (later renamed to The Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine) developed in Southern Ukraine under the command of the anarchist Nestor Makhno during the Russian Civil War. They protected the operation of "free soviets" and libertarian communes in the Free Territory, an attempt to form a stateless anarchist society from 1918 to 1921 during the Ukrainian Revolution, fighting both the tsarist White Army under Denikin and later the Red Army under Trotsky, before being defeated by the latter in August 1921.
Poland defeated Western Ukraine in the Polish-Ukrainian War, but failed against the Bolsheviks in an offensive against Kyiv. According to the Peace of Riga, western Ukraine was incorporated into Poland, which in turn recognised the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1919. With establishment of the Soviet power, Ukraine lost half of its territory, while Moldavian autonomy was established on the left bank of the Dniester River. Ukraine became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in December 1922.
Western Ukraine, Carpathian Ruthenia and Bukovina
The war in Ukraine continued for another two years; by 1921, however, most of Ukraine had been taken over by the Soviet Union, while Galicia and Volhynia (mostly today's West Ukraine) were incorporated into the Second Polish Republic. Modern-day Bukovina was annexed by Romania and Carpathian Ruthenia was admitted to the Czechoslovak Republic as an autonomy.
A powerful underground Ukrainian nationalist movement arose in eastern Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, which was formed by Ukrainian veterans of the Ukrainian-Soviet war (including Yevhen Konovalets, Andriy Melnyk, and Yuriy Tyutyunyk) and was transformed into the Ukrainian Military Organization and later the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The movement attracted a militant following among students. Hostilities between Polish state authorities and the popular movement led to a substantial number of fatalities, and the autonomy which had been promised was never implemented. The pre-war Polish government also exercised anti-Ukrainian sentiment; it restricted rights of people who declared Ukrainian nationality, belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church and inhabited the Eastern Borderlands. The Ukrainian language was restricted in every field possible, especially in governmental institutions, and the term "Ruthenian" was enforced in an attempt to ban the use of the term "Ukrainian". Despite this, a number of Ukrainian parties, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, an active press, and a business sector existed in Poland. Economic conditions improved in the 1920s, but the region suffered from the Great Depression in the early 1930s.
Inter-war Soviet Ukraine
The Russian Civil War devastated the whole Russian Empire including Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless in the former Russian Empire territory. Soviet Ukraine also faced the Russian famine of 1921 (primarily affecting the Russian Volga-Ural region). During the 1920s, under the Ukrainisation policy pursued by the national Communist leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk, Soviet leadership encouraged a national renaissance in the Ukrainian culture and language. Ukrainisation was part of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally indigenisation). The Bolsheviks were also committed to universal health care, education and social-security benefits, as well as the right to work and housing. Women's rights were greatly increased through new laws. Most of these policies were sharply reversed by the early 1930s after Joseph Stalin became the de facto communist party leader.
Starting from the late 1920s with a centrally planned economy, Ukraine was involved in Soviet industrialisation and the republic's industrial output quadrupled during the 1930s. The peasantry suffered from the programme of collectivisation of agriculture which began during and was part of the first five-year plan and was enforced by regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and deported and agricultural productivity greatly declined. As members of the collective farms were sometimes not allowed to receive any grain until unrealistic quotas were met, millions starved to death in a famine known as the Holodomor or the "Great Famine".
The Communist leadership perceived famine as a means of class struggle and used starvation as a punishment tool to force peasants into collective farms.
Largely the same groups were responsible for the mass killing operations during the civil war, collectivisation, and the Great Terror. These groups were associated with Yefim Yevdokimov (1891–1939) and operated in the Secret Operational Division within General State Political Administration (OGPU) in 1929–31. Yevdokimov transferred into Communist Party administration in 1934, when he became Party secretary for North Caucasus Krai. He appears to have continued advising Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov on security matters, and the latter relied on Yevdokimov's former colleagues to carry out the mass killing operations that are known as the Great Terror in 1937–38.
World War II
Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became part of Ukraine. For the first time in history, the nation was united.
In 1940, the Soviets annexed Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated the northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and the Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. These territorial gains of the USSR were internationally recognized by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.
German armies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, initiating nearly four years of total war. The Axis initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kyiv, the city was acclaimed as a "Hero City", because of its fierce resistance. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one-quarter of the Soviet Western Front) were killed or taken captive there, with many suffering severe mistreatment.
Although the majority of Ukrainians fought in or alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, in Western Ukraine an independent Ukrainian Insurgent Army movement arose (UPA, 1942). Created as armed forces of the underground (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, OUN) which had developed in interwar Poland as a reactionary nationalist organization. During the interwar period, the Polish government's policies towards the Ukrainian minority were initially very accommodating, however by the late 1930s they became increasingly harsh due to civil unrest. Both organizations, OUN and UPA supported the goal of an independent Ukrainian state on the territory with a Ukrainian ethnic majority. Although this brought conflict with Nazi Germany, at times the Melnyk wing of the OUN allied with the Nazi forces. Also, UPA divisions carried out massacres of ethnic Poles, killing around 100,000 Polish civilians, which brought reprisals. After the war, the UPA continued to fight the USSR until the 1950s. At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, another nationalist movement, fought alongside the Nazis.
In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million.[c] The pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944, with about 50% being ethnic Ukrainians. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army's figures are unreliable, with figures ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as many as 100,000 fighters.
Most of the Ukrainian SSR was organised within the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, with the intention of exploiting its resources and eventual German settlement. Some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939, hailed the Germans as liberators. Brutal German rule eventually turned their supporters against the Nazi administrators, who made little attempt to exploit dissatisfaction with Stalinist policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported millions of people to work in Germany, and began a depopulation program to prepare for German colonisation. They blockaded the transport of food on the Kyiv River.
The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front. By some estimates, 93% of all German casualties took place there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated at about 6 million, including an estimated one and a half million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.6 million Soviet troop losses, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians.[c][d] Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.
Post-World War II
The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed. The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–47, which was caused by a drought and the wartime destruction of infrastructure. The death toll of this famine varies, with even the lowest estimate in the tens of thousands. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations organization, part of a special agreement at the Yalta Conference.
Post-war ethnic cleansing occurred in the newly expanded Soviet Union. As of 1 January 1953, Ukrainians were second only to Russians among adult "special deportees", comprising 20% of the total. In addition, over 450,000 ethnic Germans from Ukraine and more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars were victims of forced deportations.
Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR. Having served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukrainian SSR in 1938–49, Khrushchev was intimately familiar with the republic; after taking power union-wide, he began to emphasize "the friendship" between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. In 1954, the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav was widely celebrated. Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.
By 1950, the republic had fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production. During the 1946–1950 five-year plan, nearly 20% of the Soviet budget was invested in Soviet Ukraine, a 5% increase from pre-war plans. As a result, the Ukrainian workforce rose 33.2% from 1940 to 1955 while industrial output grew 2.2 times in that same period.
Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production, and an important centre of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev. He later ousted Khrushchev and became the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982. Many prominent Soviet sports players, scientists, and artists came from Ukraine.
On 26 April 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history. This was the only accident to receive the highest possible rating of 7 by the International Nuclear Event Scale, indicating a "major accident", until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011. At the time of the accident, 7 million people lived in the contaminated territories, including 2.2 million in Ukraine.
After the accident, the new city of Slavutych was built outside the exclusion zone to house and support the employees of the plant, which was decommissioned in 2000. A report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization attributed 56 direct deaths to the accident and estimated that there may have been 4,000 extra cancer deaths.
On 16 July 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. This established the principles of the self-determination, democracy, independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation with the central Soviet authorities. In August 1991, a faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party's power. After it failed, on 24 August 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence.
A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on 1 December 1991. More than 90% of the electorate expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk as the first President of Ukraine. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on 8 December, followed by the Alma Ata meeting on 21 December, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). On 26 December 1991 the Council of Republics of the USSR Supreme Council adapted declaration "In regards to creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States" (Russian: В связи с созданием Содружества Независимых Государств) which de jure dissolved the Soviet Union and the Soviet flag was lowered over the Kremlin.
Ukraine was initially viewed as having favourable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60% of its GDP from 1991 to 1999, and suffered five-digit inflation rates. Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as the amounts of crime and corruption in Ukraine, Ukrainians protested and organized strikes.
The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. After 2000, the country enjoyed steady real economic growth averaging about seven percent annually. A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted under second President Leonid Kuchma in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticised by opponents for corruption, electoral fraud, discouraging free speech and concentrating too much power in his office. Ukraine also pursued full nuclear disarmament, giving up the third largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world and dismantling or removing all strategic bombers on its territory in exchange for various assurances (main article: Nuclear weapons and Ukraine).
In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, as the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled. The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the outcome. During the tumultuous months of the revolution, candidate Yushchenko suddenly became gravely ill, and was soon found by multiple independent physician groups to have been poisoned by TCDD dioxin. Yushchenko strongly suspected Russian involvement in his poisoning. All of this eventually resulted in the peaceful Orange Revolution, bringing Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition.
Activists of the Orange Revolution were funded and trained in tactics of political organisation and nonviolent resistance by Western pollsters and professional consultants who were partly funded by Western government and non-government agencies but received most of their funding from domestic sources.[nb 1] According to The Guardian, the foreign donors included the U.S. State Department and USAID along with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the NGO Freedom House and George Soros's Open Society Institute. The National Endowment for Democracy has supported democracy-building efforts in Ukraine since 1988. Writings on nonviolent struggle by Gene Sharp contributed in forming the strategic basis of the student campaigns.
Russian authorities provided support through advisers such as Gleb Pavlovsky, consulting on blackening the image of Yushchenko through the state media, pressuring state-dependent voters to vote for Yanukovych and on vote-rigging techniques such as multiple 'carousel voting' and 'dead souls' voting.
Yanukovych returned to power in 2006 as Prime Minister in the Alliance of National Unity, until snap elections in September 2007 made Tymoshenko Prime Minister again. Amid the 2008–09 Ukrainian financial crisis the Ukrainian economy plunged by 15%. Disputes with Russia briefly stopped all gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006 and again in 2009, leading to gas shortages in other countries. Viktor Yanukovych was elected President in 2010 with 48% of votes.
Euromaidan and 2014 revolution
The Euromaidan (Ukrainian: Євромайдан, literally "Eurosquare") protests started in November 2013 after the president, Viktor Yanukovych, began moving away from an association agreement that had been in the works with the European Union and instead chose to establish closer ties with the Russian Federation. Some Ukrainians took to the streets to show their support for closer ties with Europe. Meanwhile, in the predominantly Russian-speaking east, a large portion of the population opposed the Euromaidan protests, instead supporting the Yanukovych government. Over time, Euromaidan came to describe a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, the scope of which evolved to include calls for the resignation of President Yanukovych and his government.
Violence escalated after 16 January 2014 when the government accepted new Anti-Protest Laws. Violent anti-government demonstrators occupied buildings in the centre of Kyiv, including the Justice Ministry building, and riots left 98 dead with approximately fifteen thousand injured and 100 considered missing from 18 to 20 February. On 21 February, President Yanukovych signed a compromise deal with opposition leaders that promised constitutional changes to restore certain powers to Parliament and called for early elections to be held by December. However, Members of Parliament voted on 22 February to remove the president and set an election for 25 May to select his replacement. Petro Poroshenko, running on a pro-European Union platform, won with over fifty percent of the vote, therefore not requiring a run-off election. Upon his election, Poroshenko announced that his immediate priorities would be to take action in the civil unrest in Eastern Ukraine and mend ties with the Russian Federation. Poroshenko was inaugurated as president on 7 June 2014, as previously announced by his spokeswoman Irina Friz in a low-key ceremony without a celebration on Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square, the centre of the Euromaidan protests) for the ceremony. In October 2014 Parliament elections, Petro Poroshenko Bloc "Solidarity" won 132 of the 423 contested seats.
Civil unrest, Russian intervention, and annexation of Crimea
The ousting of Yanukovych prompted Vladimir Putin to begin preparations to annex Crimea on 23 February 2014. Using the Russian naval base at Sevastopol as cover, Putin directed Russian troops and intelligence agents to disarm Ukrainian forces and take control of Crimea. After the troops entered Crimea, a controversial referendum was held on 16 March 2014 and the official result was that 97 percent wished to join with Russia. On 18 March 2014, Russia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Crimea signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the Russian Federation. The UN general assembly responded by passing resolution 68/262 that the referendum was invalid and supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Separately, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, armed men declaring themselves as local militia supported with pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings, police and special police stations in several cities and held unrecognised status referendums. The insurgency was led by Russian emissaries Igor Girkin and Alexander Borodai as well as militants from Russia, such as Arseny Pavlov.
Talks in Geneva between the EU, Russia, Ukraine and USA yielded a Joint Diplomatic Statement referred to as the 2014 Geneva Pact in which the parties requested that all unlawful militias lay down their arms and vacate seized government buildings, and also establish a political dialogue that could lead to more autonomy for Ukraine's regions. When Petro Poroshenko won the presidential election held on 25 May 2014, he vowed to continue the military operations by the Ukrainian government forces to end the armed insurgency. More than 9,000 people have been killed in the military campaign.
In August 2014, a bilateral commission of leading scholars from the United States and Russia issued the Boisto Agenda indicating a 24-step plan to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. The Boisto Agenda was organized into five imperative categories for addressing the crisis requiring stabilization identified as: (1) Elements of an Enduring, Verifiable Ceasefire; (2) Economic Relations; (3) Social and Cultural Issues; (4) Crimea; and, (5) International Status of Ukraine. In late 2014, Ukraine ratified the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, which Poroshenko described as Ukraine's "first but most decisive step" towards EU membership. Poroshenko also set 2020 as the target for EU membership application.
In February 2015, after a summit hosted in Belarus, Poroshenko negotiated a ceasefire with the separatist troops. This included conditions such as the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the front line and decentralisation of rebel regions by the end of 2015. It also included conditions such as Ukrainian control of the border with Russia in 2015 and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Ukrainian territory. The ceasefire began at midnight on 15 February 2015. Participants in this ceasefire also agreed to attend regular meetings to ensure that the agreement is respected.
On 1 January 2016, Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with European Union, which aims to modernize and develop Ukraine's economy, governance and rule of law to EU standards and gradually increase integration with the EU Internal market. Then, on 11 May 2017 the European Union approved visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens: this took effect from 11 June entitling Ukrainians to travel to the Schengen area for tourism, family visits and business reasons, with the only document required being a valid biometric passport.