Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. Ukraine borders the Russian Federation to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after the Russian Federation(Dell 1691P battery).
According to a popular and well established theory, the medieval state of Kievan Rus was established by the Varangians in the 9th century as the first historically recorded East Slavic state which emerged as a powerful nation in the Middle Ages until it disintegrated in the 12th century. By the middle of the 14th century, Ukrainian territories were under the rule of three external powers—the Golden Horde, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Kingdom of Poland. (Dell D6400 battery)After the Great Northern War (1700–1721) Ukraine was divided between a number of regional powers and, by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. A chaotic period of incessant warfare ensued, with several internationally recognized attempts at independence from 1917 to 1921(Dell N3010 battery), following World War I and the Russian Civil War. Ukraine emerged from its own civil war, and on December 30, 1922 Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian SSR's territory was enlarged westward during the civil war shortly before, and after World War II, and further south in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations. (Dell Inspiron N4010 battery)
Ukraine became independent again when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. This dissolution started a period of transition to a market economy, in which Ukraine was stricken with an eight-year recession. Since then, however, the economy has experienced a high increase in GDP growth. Ukraine was caught up in the worldwide economic crisis in 2008 and the economy plunged. GDP fell 20% from spring 2008 to spring 2009(Dell INSPIRON 1100 battery), then leveled off as analysts compared the magnitude of the downturn to the worst years of economic depression during the early 1990s. However, the country remains a globally important market and, as of 2011, is the world's third largest grain exporter.
Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status: Kiev, its capital and largest city, and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement(Dell Inspiron 1200 battery). Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continues to maintain the second largest military in Europe, after that of Russia. The country is home to 46 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians (17%), Belarusians and Romanians. Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine. Russian is also widely spoken(Dell Inspiron 1420 battery). The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.
The traditional view (mostly influenced by Russian and Polish historiography) on the etymology of Ukraine is that it came from the old Slavic term ukraina which meant "border region" or "frontier" and thus corresponded to the Western term march. The term can be often found in Eastern Slavic chronicles from 1187 on(Dell Inspiron 1464 battery), but for a long time it referred not solely to the border lands in present-day Ukraine. The plural term ukrainy was used as well in the Grand Duchy of Moscow as in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly the lands across the border to the nomad world (Crimean Khanate) were described by this word. Frequent raids from the steppe made life in such regions a special and dangerous challenge(Dell Inspiron 1564 battery). With the migration of the Great Abatis Belt southwards, the application of the term switched to Sloboda Ukraine and then to Central Ukraine where in the course of the time it obtained ethnic meaning for the local South Rus' (Little Russia in the ecclesiastic and the imperial Russian terminology).
Many contemporary Ukrainian historians translate the term "u-kraine" as "in-land", "home-land" or "our-country". This translation is in accordance with the original Ukrainian language meaning of preposition "у-" (u-) and noun "країна" (krayina). (Dell Inspiron 1764 battery) The accompanying claim that it always had a strictly separate meaning to "borderland" (ukraina vs. okraina) is considered inconsistent with a number of historical sources, often of not Ukrainian origin, while the translation as "borderland" agrees well with the traditional Russian language meaning of "у-" (u-) and "краина" (kraina) (Dell Inspiron 1520 battery).
Though the form "the Ukraine" was once the more common term in English, this is now considered inappropriate; most sources have dropped the article in favour of simply "Ukraine".
Human settlement in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BCE, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains. By 4,500 BCE, the Neolithic Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture flourished in a wide area that included parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region(Dell Inspiron 1521 battery). 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.
Later, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Hermonassa, were founded, beginning in the 6th century BC, on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and thrived well into the 6th century AD. The Goths stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s AD(Dell inspiron 1525 battery). In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the center 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.
The Baptism of Grand Prince Vladimir, led to the adoption of Christianity in Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus' was founded by the Rus' people, Varangians who first settled around Ladoga and Novgorod, then gradually moved southward eventually reaching Kiev about 880. Kievan Rus' included the western part of modern Ukraine(Dell inspiron 1526 battery), Belarus, with larger part of it situated on the territory of modern Russia. 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. In the following centuries, it laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus'(Dell Inspiron 1720 battery).
Map of the Kievan Rus' in the 11th century. During the Golden Age of Kiev, the lands of Rus' covered modern western, central and northern Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia. Modern eastern and southern Ukraine were inhabited by nomads and had a different history.
The Varangians later assimilated into the local Slavic population and became part of the Rus' first dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus' was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid Princes(Dell Inspiron 2000 battery). The seat of Kiev, the most prestigious and influential of all principalities, became the subject of many rivalries among Rurikids as the most valuable prize in their quest for power.
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. This was followed by the state's increasing fragmentation as the relative importance of regional powers rose again(Dell INSPIRON 2600 battery). After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus' finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav's death.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north. The 13th century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus'. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240(Dell INSPIRON 3800 battery). On today's Ukrainian territory, the state of Kievan Rus' was succeeded by the principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, which were merged into the state of Galicia-Volhynia.
See also: Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Russian Empire
In the centuries following the Mongol invasion, much of Ukraine was controlled by Lithuania (from the 14th century on) and since the Union of Lublin (1569) by Poland, as seen at this outline of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as of 1619(Dell INSPIRON 4000 battery)
In the mid-14th century, Casimir III of Poland gained control of Galicia-Volhynia, while the heartland of Rus', including Kiev, became the territory of the Gediminas, of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 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(Dell Inspiron 5000 battery).
By 1569, the Union of Lublin formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and a significant part of Ukrainian territory was moved from Lithuanian rule to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, thus becoming Polish territory. Under the cultural and political pressure of Polonisation, many upper-class people of Polish Ruthenia (another term for the land of Rus) converted to Catholicism and became indistinguishable from the Polish nobility. (Dell INSPIRON 500M battery) Thus, the commoners, deprived of their native protectors among Rus nobility, turned for protection to the Cossacks, who remained fiercely Orthodox. The Cossacks tended to turn to violence against those they perceived as enemies, particularly the Polish state and its representatives.
"Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire." Painted by Ilya Repin from 1880 to 1891(Dell INSPIRON 5100 battery)
In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was established by the Dnieper Cossacks and the Ruthenian peasants fleeing Polish serfdom. Poland had little real control of this land, yet they found the Cossacks to be a useful fighting force against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two allied in military campaigns. However, the continued enserfment of peasantry by the Polish nobility(Dell INSPIRON 510M battery), emphasized by the Commonwealth's fierce exploitation of the workforce, and most importantly, the suppression of the Orthodox Church pushed the allegiances of Cossacks away from Poland.
The Cossacks aspired to have representation in Polish Sejm, recognition of Orthodox traditions and the gradual expansion of the Cossack Registry. These were all vehemently rejected by the Polish nobility, who had power in the Sejm(Dell INSPIRON 6000 battery). The Cossacks eventually turned for protection to Orthodox Russia, a decision which would later lead towards the downfall of the Polish–Lithuanian state, and the preservation of the Orthodox Church and in Ukraine.
Bohdan Khmelnytsky, "Hetman of Ukraine", established an independent Ukraine after the uprising in 1648 against Poland
In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king John II Casimir. (Dell INSPIRON 600M battery) Left-bank Ukraine was eventually integrated into Muscovite Russia as Rada faced the alternatives of subjection to Poland, allegiance to Turkey, or allegiance to Muscovy and chose the latter as the Cossack Hetmanate as recorded in the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav. There followed the Russo-Polish War which ended in 1667. After the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century by Prussia, Habsburg Austria, and Russia, Western Ukrainian Galicia was taken over by Austria(Dell Inspiron 6400 battery).
The Khanate of Crimea was one of the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the end of the 17th century
The Crimean Khanate was one of the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the 18th century; at one point it even succeeded, under the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray, to devastate Moscow. The Russian population of the borderlands suffered annual Tatar invasions and tens of thousands of soldiers were required to protect the southern boundaries(Dell INSPIRON 7000 battery). From the beginning of the 16th century until the end of 17th century the Crimean Tatar raider bands made almost annual forays into agricultural Slavic lands searching for captives to sell as slaves. 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. (Dell INSPIRON 700M battery) This was a heavy burden for the state, and slowed its social and economic development. Since Crimean Tatars did not permit settlement of Russians to southern regions where the soil is better and the season is long enough, Muscovy had to depend on poorer regions and labour-intensive agriculture. Poland-Lithuania, Moldavia and Wallachia were also subjected to extensive slave raiding. The Crimean Khanate was conquered by the Russian Empire in 1778, bringing an end to the last Tatar state(Dell Inspiron 710m battery).
In 1657–1686 came "The Ruin," a devastating 30-year war amongst Russia, Poland, Turks and Cossacks for control of Ukraine, which occurred at about the same time as the Deluge of Poland. For three years, Khmelnytsky's armies controlled present-day western and central Ukraine, but, deserted by his Tatar allies, he suffered a crushing defeat at Berestechko, and turned to the Russian tsar for help(Dell INSPIRON 8200 battery).
The Battle of Poltava in 1709, as depicted by Denis Martens the Younger, 1726
In 1654, Khmelnytsky signed the Treaty of Pereiaslav, forming a military and political alliance with Russia that acknowledged loyalty to the Czar. The wars escalated in intensity with hundreds of thousands of deaths. Defeat came in 1686 as the "Eternal Peace" between Russia and Poland gave Kiev and the Cossack lands east of the Dnieper over to Russian rule and the Ukrainian lands west of the Dnieper to Poland(Dell INSPIRON 8600 battery).
In 1709 Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687–1709) sided with Sweden against Russia in the Great Northern War (1700–1721). Mazepa, a member of the Cossack nobility, received an excellent education abroad and proved to be a brilliant political and military leader enjoying good relations with the Romanov dynasty. After Peter the Great became czar, Mazepa as hetman gave him more than twenty years of loyal military and diplomatic service and was well rewarded(Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery).
Kirill Razumovsky, the last Hetman of left and right-bank Ukraine 1750–1764, was, in May 1763, the first person to ever declare Ukraine to be a sovereign state
Eventually Peter recognized that in order to consolidate and modernize Russia's political and economic power it was necessary to do away with the hetmanate and Ukrainian and Cossack aspirations to autonomy. Mazepa accepted Polish invitations to join the Poles and Swedes against Russia(Dell INSPIRON 9200 battery). The move was disastrous for the hetmanate, Ukrainian autonomy, and Mazepa. He died in exile after fleeing from the Battle of Poltava (1709), where the Swedes and their Cossack allies suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Peter's Russian forces.
The hetmanate was abolished in 1764; the Zaporizhska Sich abolished in 1775, as Russia centralized control over its lands. As part of the partitioning of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795, the Ukrainian lands west of the Dnieper were divided between Russia and Austria(Dell INSPIRON 9300 battery). 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 Cracow 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(Dell Inspiron 9400 battery). 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, under the authority of the Pope but using Eastern rituals; it dominates western Ukraine to this day. Tensions between the Uniates and the Orthodox were never resolved, and the religious differentiation left the Ukrainian Orthodox peasants leaderless, as they were reluctant to follow the Ukrainian nobles(Dell Inspiron E1505 battery).
Cossacks led an uprising, called Koliivshchyna, starting in the Ukrainian borderlands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1768. Ethnicity as one root cause of this revolt, which included Ukrainian violence that killed tens of thousands of Poles and Jews. Religious warfare also broke out between Ukrainian groups. Increasing conflict between Uniate and Orthodox parishes along the newly reinforced Polish-Russian border on the Dnepr River in the time of Catherine II set the stage for the uprising(Dell Inspiron E1705 battery). 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 Russians annexed the Crimean Khanate in 1783, the region was settled by Ukrainian and Russian migrants. Despite the promises of Ukrainian autonomy given by the Treaty of Pereyaslav(Dell Inspiron Mini 9 battery), the Ukrainian elite and the Cossacks never received the freedoms and the autonomy they were expecting from Imperial Russia. However, within the Empire, Ukrainians rose to the highest Russian state and church offices. [a] At a later period, tsarists established a policy of Russification of Ukrainian lands, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language in print, and in public(Dell Latitude D400 battery).
Symon Petliura led Ukraine's struggle for independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917; he is now recognised as having been the third President of independent Ukraine
In the 19th century, Ukraine was a rural area largely ignored by Russia and Austria. 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(Dell STUDIO 1450 battery).
After Ukraine and Crimea became aligned with the Russian Empire Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774), significant German immigration occurred after it was encouraged by Catherine the Great and her immediate successors. Immigration was encouraged into Ukraine and especially the Crimea by Catherine in her proclamation of open migration to the Russian Empire. Immigration was encouraged for Germans and other Europeans to thin the previously dominant Turk population and encourage more complete use of farmland(Dell Vostro 1400 battery).
Beginning in the 19th century, there was a continuous migration from Ukraine to settle the 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. Between 1896 and 1906, after the construction of the trans-Siberian railway, a total of 1.6 million Ukrainians migrated eastward.
Soldiers of the Ukrainian People's Army listening to a blind kobzar bandura player(Dell Vostro 1500 battery)
Nationalist and socialist parties developed in the late 19th century. Austrian Galicia, which enjoyed substantial political freedom under the relatively lenient rule of the Habsburgs, became the center of the nationalist movement.
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. (Dell XPS M1210 battery) During the war, Austro-Hungarian authorities established the Ukrainian Legion to fight against the Russian Empire. This legion was the foundation of 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. Up to 5,000 supporters of the Russian Empire from Galicia were detained and placed in Austrian internment camps in Talerhof, Styria, and in a fortress at Terezín (now in the Czech Republic). (Dell XPS M1330 battery)
When World War I ended, several empires collapsed; among them were the Russian and Austrian empires. The Russian Revolution of 1917 ensued, and a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination reemerged, with heavy Communist/Socialist influence. During 1917–20, several separate Ukrainian states briefly emerged: the Ukrainian People's Republic, the Hetmanate(Dell XPS 1340 battery), the Directorate and the pro-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 former Austro-Hungarian territory. This led to civil war, and an anarchist movement called the Black Army led by Nestor Makhno developed in Southern Ukraine during that war.
Children affected by famine in Soviet-administered southern Ukraine, Berdyansk, 1922(Dell XPS M1530 battery)
However, Poland defeated Western Ukraine in the Polish-Ukrainian War, but failed against the Bolsheviks in an offensive against Kiev. According to the Peace of Riga concluded between the Soviets and Poland, western Ukraine was officially incorporated into Poland, who in turn recognised the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1919. Ukraine became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Soviet Union in December 1922. (Dell XPS M170 battery)
Inter-war Polish Ukraine
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 were incorporated into independent Poland.
A powerful underground Ukrainian nationalist movement rose in Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, led by the Ukrainian Military Organization and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The movement attracted a militant following among students and harassed the Polish authorities(Dell XPS M1710 battery). Legal Ukrainian parties, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, an active press, and a business sector also flourished in Poland. Economic conditions improved in the 1920s, but the region suffered from the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Inter-war Soviet Ukraine
Soviet recruitment poster featuring the Ukrainisation theme. The text reads: "Son! Enroll in the school of Red commanders, and the defence of Soviet Ukraine will be ensured(Dell XPS M1730 battery)."
The civil war that eventually brought the Soviet government to power devastated Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. In addition, Soviet Ukraine had to face the famine of 1921. Seeing an exhausted Ukraine, the Soviet government remained very flexible during the 1920s. Thus, under the aegis of the Ukrainization policy pursued by the national Communist leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk(Dell XPS M2010 battery), Soviet leadership encouraged a national renaissance in literature and the arts. The Ukrainian culture and language enjoyed a revival, as Ukrainisation became a local implementation of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally indigenisation) policy. The Bolsheviks were also committed to introducing 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 designed to wipe away centuries-old inequalities. (Dell Latitude E5400 battery) Most of these policies were sharply reversed by the early 1930s after Joseph Stalin gradually consolidated power to become the de facto communist party leader.
Two future leaders of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev (pre-war CPSU chief in Ukraine) and Leonid Brezhnev (an engineer from Dniprodzerzhynsk) depicted together
The communists gave a privileged position to manual labor, the largest class in the cities, where Russians dominated. The typical worker was more attached to class identity than to ethnicity. Although there were incidents of ethnic friction among workers (Dell Latitude E5500 battery) (in addition to Ukrainians and Russians there were significant numbers of Poles, Germans, Jews, and others in the Ukrainian workforce), industrial laborers had already adopted Russian culture and language to a significant extent. Workers whose ethnicity was Ukrainian were not attracted to campaigns of Ukrainianization or de-Russification in meaningful numbers, but remained loyal members of the Soviet working class. There was no significant antagonism between workers identifying themselves as Ukrainian or Russian(Dell Latitude E6400 battery).
Starting from the late 1920s, Ukraine was involved in the Soviet industrialisation and the republic's industrial output quadrupled during the 1930s.
The industrialisation had a heavy cost for the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation. To satisfy the state's need for increased food supplies and to finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture as the state combined the peasants' lands and animals into collective farms and enforced the policies by the regular troops and secret police. (Dell Latitude E6500 battery)Those who resisted were arrested and deported and the increased production quotas were placed on the peasantry. The collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. As the members of the collective farms were not allowed to receive any grain until sometimes unrealistic quotas were met, starvation in the Soviet Union became more common. In 1932–33, millions starved to death in a famine known as Holodomor or "Great Famine".(Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery) Scholars are divided as to whether this famine fits the definition of genocide, but the Ukrainian parliament and other countries recognise it as such.[c]
DniproHES hydroelectric power plant under construction circa 1930
The famine claimed up to 10 million of Ukrainian lives as peasants' food stocks were forcibly removed by the Soviet government by the NKVD secret police. Some explanations for the causes for the excess deaths in rural areas of Ukraine and Kazakhstan during 1931–34 has been given by dividing the causes into three groups: objective non-policy-related factors(Dell XPS M140 battery), like the drought of 1931 and poor weather in 1932; inadvertent result of policies with other objectives, like rapid industrialization, socialization of livestock, and neglected crop rotation patterns; and deaths caused intentionally by a starvation policy. The Communist leadership perceived famine not as a humanitarian catastrophe but as a means of class struggle and used starvation as a punishment tool to force peasants into collective farms. It was largely the same groups of individuals who were responsible for the mass killing operations during the civil war, collectivisation(Dell XPS 13 battery), and the Great Terror. These groups were associated with Efim Georgievich Evdokimov (1891–1939) and operated in Ukraine during the civil war, in the North Caucasus in the 1920s, and in the Secret Operational Division within General State Political Administration (OGPU) in 1929–31. Evdokimov transferred into Communist Party administration in 1934, when he became Party secretary for North Caucasus Krai. But he appears to have continued advising Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov on security matters(Dell XPS 16 battery), and the latter relied on Evdokimov's former colleagues to carry out the mass killing operations that are known as the Great Terror in 1937–38.
With Joseph Stalin's change of course in the late 1920s, however, Moscow's toleration of Ukrainian national identity came to an end. Systematic state terror of the 1930s destroyed Ukraine's writers, artists, and intellectuals; the Communist Party of Ukraine was purged of its "nationalist deviationists"(Dell XPS 1640 battery). Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union (1929–34 and 1936–38) resulted in the killing of some 681,692 people; this included four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite and three-quarters of all the Red Army's higher-ranking officers.[b]
Kiev suffered significant damage during World War II, and was occupied by Nazi Germany from September 19, 1941 until November 6, 1943(Dell XPS 1645 battery)
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 reunited with the rest of Ukraine. The unification that Ukraine achieved for the first time in its history was a decisive event in the history of the nation. (Dell XPS 1647 battery)
In 1940, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina in response to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated 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. All these territorial gains were internationally recognised by the Paris peace treaties of 1947(Dell Latitude 131L battery).
Soviet soldiers preparing rafts to cross the Dnieper (the sign reads "Give me Kiev!") in the 1943 Battle of the Dnieper
German armies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thereby initiating four straight years of incessant total war. The Axis allies initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, the city was acclaimed as a "Hero City", because the resistance by the Red Army and by the local population was fierce(Dell Latitude C400 battery). More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one-quarter of the Western Front) were killed or taken captive there.
Although the wide majority of Ukrainians fought alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground created an anti-Soviet nationalist formation in Galicia, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942) that at times engaged the Nazi forces and continued to fight the USSR in the years after the war(Dell Latitude C500 battery). Using guerilla war tactics, the insurgents targeted for assassination and terror those who they perceived as representing, or cooperating at any level with, the Soviet state.
Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kiev
At the same time another nationalist movement fought alongside the Nazis. In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians that fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million. The pro-Soviet partisan guerilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944(Dell Latitude C510 battery); with about 50 percent of them being ethnic Ukrainians. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army's figures are very undependable, ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as much as 100,000 fighters.
Initially, the Germans were even hailed as liberators by some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939. However, brutal German rule in the occupied territories eventually turned its supporters against the occupation(Dell Latitude C540 battery). Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population of Ukrainian territories' dissatisfaction with Stalinist political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported others to work in Germany, and began a systematic depopulation of Ukraine (along with Poland) to prepare it for German colonisation, which included a food blockade on Kiev. (Dell Latitude C600 battery)
The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front. It has been estimated that 93 percent of all German casualties took place on the Eastern Front. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators(Dell Latitude C610 battery). Of the estimated 8.7 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians. So to this day, Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.
Post–World War II
See also: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, History of the Soviet Union (1953–1964), History of the Soviet Union (1964–1982), and History of the Soviet Union (1982–1991)
Sergey Korolyov, the head Soviet rocket engineer and designer during the Space Race
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. (Dell Latitude C640 battery) 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. The first Soviet computer, MESM, was built at the Kiev Institute of Electrotechnology and became operational in 1950(Dell Latitude C800 battery).
Postwar ethnic cleansing occurred in the newly expanded Soviet Union. As of January 1, 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(Dell Latitude C810 battery).
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, and in particular, Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR(Dell Latitude C840 battery).
Kharkiv during the late Soviet era (1981)
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 prewar 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(Dell Latitude CPI battery).
Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production, and an important center 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, who would later oust Khrushchev and become the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet sports players, scientists, and artists(Dell Latitude D410 battery).
On April 26, 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(Dell Latitude D420 battery), 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. (Dell Latitude D430 battery)
The first launch of a Ukrainian rocket at the Sea Launch complex
On July 16, 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The declaration established the principles of the self-determination of the Ukrainian nation, its democracy, political and economic independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law on the Ukrainian territory over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR(Dell Latitude D500 battery). This started a period of confrontation between the central Soviet, and new republican authorities. In August 1991, a conservative 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 the attempt failed, on August 24, 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence in which the parliament declared Ukraine as an independent democratic state(Dell Latitude D505 battery).
A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on December 1, 1991. That day, more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian people expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk to serve as the first President of the country. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on December 8, followed by Alma Ata meeting on December 21, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (Dell Latitude D510 battery).
Protesters at Independence Square on the first day of the Orange Revolution
Although the idea of an independent Ukrainian nation had previously not existed in the 20th century in the minds of international policy makers, Ukraine was initially viewed as a republic with favorable 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(Dell Latitude D520 battery). During the recession, Ukraine lost 60 percent 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 organised strikes.
The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. Since 2000, the country has enjoyed steady real economic growth averaging about seven percent annually. (Dell Latitude D600 battery) 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, criticized by opponents for corruption, electoral fraud, discouraging free speech and concentrating too much power in his office. He also repeatedly transferred public property into the hands of loyal oligarchs(Dell Latitude D610 battery).
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 of the elections. This resulted in the peaceful Orange Revolution, bringing Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power(Dell Latitude D620 battery), while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition. Yanukovych returned to a position of power in 2006, when he became Prime Minister in the Alliance of National Unity, until snap elections in September 2007 made Tymoshenko Prime Minister again. Yanukovych was elected President in 2010.
Conflicts with Russia over the price of natural gas briefly stopped all gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006 and again in 2009, leading to gas shortages in several other European countries. (Dell Latitude D630 battery)
Historical maps of Ukraine
The Ukrainian state has occupied a number of territories since its initial foundation. Most of these territories have been located within Eastern Europe, however, as depicted in the maps in the gallery below, has also at times extended well into Eurasia and South-Eastern Europe. At times there has also been a distinct lack of a Ukrainian state, as its territories were on a number of occasions, annexed by its more powerful neighbours(Dell Latitude D800 battery).
At 603,700 square kilometres (233,100 sq mi) and with a coastline of 2,782 kilometres (1,729 mi), Ukraine is the world's 44th-largest country (after the Central African Republic, before Madagascar). It is the largest wholly European country and the second largest country in Europe (after the European part of Russia, before metropolitan France).[i] It lies between latitudes 44° and 53° N, and longitudes 22° and 41° E(Dell Latitude D810 battery).
The Ukrainian landscape consists mostly of fertile plains (or steppes) and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Buh as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the delta of the Danube forms the border with Romania. Its various regions have diverse geographic features ranging from the highlands to the lowlands(Dell Latitude D820 battery). The country's only mountains are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, of which the highest is the Hora Hoverla at 2,061 metres (6,762 ft), and the Crimean Mountains on the Crimean peninsula, in the extreme south along the coast. However Ukraine also has a number of highland regions such as the Volyn-Podillia Upland (in the west) and the Near-Dnipro Upland (on the right bank of Dnieper); to the east there are the south-western spurs of the Central Russian Uplands over which runs the border with Russia(Dell Latitude D830 battery). Near the Sea of Azov can be found the Donets Ridge and the Near Azov Upland. The snow melt from the mountains feeds the rivers, and natural changes in altitude form a sudden drop in elevation and create many opportunities to form waterfalls.
Significant natural resources in Ukraine include iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber and an abundance of arable land. Despite this(Dell Latitude 2100 battery), the country faces a number of major environmental issues such as inadequate supplies of potable water; air and water pollution and deforestation, as well as radiation contamination in the north-east from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Recycling toxic household waste is still in its infancy in Ukraine.
There are not only clear regional differences on questions of identity but historical cleavages remain evident at the level of individual social identification. Attitudes toward the most important political issue, relations with Russia(Dell Latitude 2110 battery), differed strongly between Lviv, identifying more with Ukrainian nationalism and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Donetsk, predominantly Russian orientated and favorable to the Soviet era, while in central and southern Ukraine, as well as Kiev, such divisions were less important and there was less antipathy toward people from other regions (a poll by the Research & Branding Group held March 2010 (Dell Latitude E4300 battery)showed that the attitude of the citizens of Donetsk to the citizens of Lviv was 79% positive and that the attitude of the citizens of Lviv to the citizens of Donetsk was 88% positive). However, all were united by an overarching Ukrainian identity based on shared economic difficulties, showing that other attitudes are determined more by culture and politics than by demographic differences. Surveys of regional identities in Ukraine have shown that the feeling of belonging to a "Soviet identity" is strongest in the Donbas (about 40%) and the Crimea (about 30%)(Dell Vostro 1310 battery).
Ukraine is home to a very wide range of animals, fungi, micro-organisms and plants.
The speckled ground squirrel is a native of the east Ukrainian steppes
Lake Synevir is the largest lake in the Ukrainian Carpathians
Ukraine is divided into two main zoological areas. One of these areas, in the west of the country, is made up of the borderlands of Europe, where there are species typical of mixed forests, the other is located in eastern Ukraine, where steppe-dwelling species thrive(Dell Vostro 1320 battery). In the forested areas of the country it is not uncommon to find lynxes, wolves, wild boar and martens, as well as many other similar species; this is especially true of the Carpathian mountains, where a large number of predatory mammals make their home, as well as a contingent of brown bears. Around Ukraine's lakes and rivers beavers, otters and mink make their home, whilst within, carp, bream and catfish are the most commonly found species of fish(Dell Vostro 1510 battery). In the central and eastern parts of the country, rodents such as hamsters and gophers are found in large numbers.
More than 6600 species of fungi (including lichen-forming species) have been recorded from Ukraine., but this number is far from complete. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Ukraine, including species not yet recorded, is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered. (Dell Vostro 1520 battery) Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Ukraine, and 2217 such species have been tentatively identified.
Ukraine has a mostly temperate continental climate, although the southern Crimean coast has a humid subtropical climate. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed; it is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast. Western Ukraine receives around 1,200 millimetres (47.2 in) of precipitation annually, while Crimea receives around 400 millimetres (Dell Vostro 2510 battery) (15.7 in). Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. Average annual temperatures range from 5.5 °C (41.9 °F)–7 °C (44.6 °F) in the north, to 11 °C (51.8 °F)–13 °C (55.4 °F) in the south.
In the modern era Ukraine has become a much more democratic country
Main articles: Politics of Ukraine, Government of Ukraine, and Elections in Ukraine
Ukraine is a republic under a mixed semi-parliamentary semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches(Dell Vostro 1014 battery).
With the proclamation of its independence on August 24, 1991, and adoption of a constitution on June 28, 1996, Ukraine became a semi-presidential republic. However, in 2004, deputies introduced changes to the Constitution, which tipped the balance of power in favour parliament. From 2004 to 2010, the legitimacy of the 2004 Constitutional amendments had official sanction, both with the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and most major political parties. (Dell Inspiron 1410 battery) Despite this, on September 30, 2010 the Constitutional Court ruled that the amendments were null and void, forcing a return to the terms of the 1996 Constitution and again making Ukraine's political system more presidential in character.
The ruling on the 2004 Constitutional amendments has become a major topic of political discourse. Much of the concern has been due to the fact that neither the Constitution of 1996 nor the Constitution of 2004 provides the ability to "undo the Constitution", as the decision of the Constitutional Court would have it(Dell Vostro 1015 battery), even though the 2004 constitution arguably has an exhaustive list of possible procedures for constitutional amendments (articles 154–159). In any case, the current Constitution can arguably be modified only by a vote in Parliament.
The president, parliament and government of Ukraine
Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine since 2010
The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state. Ukraine's legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. (Dell Inspiron 1088 battery)The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister. However, the President still retains the authority to nominate the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs and of Defence for parliamentary approval, as well as the power to appoint the Prosecutor General and the head of the Security Service.
The session chamber of the Verkhovna Rada, the Parliament of Ukraine(SONY PCG-5G2L battery)
Laws, acts of the parlia
Ukraine has a large number of political parties, many of which have tiny memberships and are unknown to the general public. Small parties often join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocs) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections.
Courts and law enforcement
Main articles: Judicial system of Ukraine and Law enforcement in Ukraine(SONY PCG-5J1L battery)
The courts enjoy legal, financial and constitutional freedom guaranteed by measures adopted in Ukrainian law in 2002. Judges are largely well protected from dismissal (except in the instance of gross misconduct). Court justices are appointed by presidential decree for an initial period of five years, after which Ukraine's Supreme Council confirms their positions for life in an attempt to insulate them from politics(SONY PCG-5J2L battery). Although there are still problems with the performance of the system, it is considered to have been much improved since Ukraine's independence in 1991. The Supreme Court is regarded as being an independent and impartial body, and has on several occasions ruled against the Ukrainian government.
Justices of Ukraine's Constitutional Court
Prosecutors in Ukraine have greater powers than in most European countries, and according to the European Commission for Democracy through Law ‘the role and functions of the Prosecutor’s Office is not in accordance with Council of Europe standards".(SONY PCG-5K2L battery)In addition to this, from 2005 until 2008 the criminal judicial system maintained a 99.5 percent conviction rate, equal to the conviction rate of the Soviet Union, with suspects often being incarcerated for long periods before trial. On March 24, 2010, President Yanukovych formed an expert group to make recommendations how to "clean up the current mess and adopt a law on court organization". One day after setting this commission Yanukovych stated "We can no longer disgrace our country with such a court system." (SONY PCG-5L1L battery) Judicial and penal institutions play a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good. The criminal judicial system and the prison system of Ukraine remain quite punitive. In contemporary Ukraine prison ministry of chaplains does not exist de jure.
A uniformed officer of the Highways' Police (ДАI)
Since January 1, 2010 it is allowed to hold court proceedings in Russian on mutual consent of parties. Citizens who are unable to speak Ukrainian or Russian are allowed to use their native language or the services of a translator. (SONY PCG-6S2L battery) Previously all court proceedings were required to be held in Ukrainian, which is the nation's only language with any truly official administrative status.
Law enforcement agencies in Ukraine are typically organised under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They consist primarily of the national police force (Мiлiцiя) and various specialised units and agencies such as the State Border Guard and the Coast Guard services. In recent years the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, have faced criticism for their heavy handling of the 2004 Orange Revolution(SONY PCG-6S3L battery), this criticism stems from the use by the Kuchma government's contemplated use of Berkut special operations units and internal troops in a plan to put an end to demonstrations on Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti. The actions of the government saw many thousands of police officers mobilised and stationed throughout the capital, primarily to dissuade protesters from challenging the state's authority but also to provide a quick reaction force in case of need(SONY PCG-6V1L battery); most officers were armed and another 10,000 were held in reserve nearby. Bloodshed was only avoided when Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov heeded his colleagues' calls to withdraw.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is also responsible for the maintenance of the State Security Service; Ukraine's domestic intelligence agency, which has on occasion been accused of acting like a secret police force serving to protect the country's political elite from media criticism. On the other hand however(SONY PCG-6W1L battery), it is widely accepted that members of the service provided vital information about government plans to the leaders of the Orange Revolution in order to prevent the collapse of the movement.