You are on page 1of 37

History of Ukraine

The territory of Ukraine has been inhabited for at least forty four thousand years. It
is where the horse was first domesticated and a candidate site of the origins of
the Proto-Indo-European language family.
In the Middle ages, the area was a key center of East Slavic culture, before being
divided between a variety of powers. A Cossack republic flowered for a century in
the early modern period, but Ukraine remained otherwise divided until its consolidation
into a Soviet republic in the twentieth century, becoming independent in 1991.
Rival politicians now disagree over whether to look towards Moscow or the European
Union; the 2004 Orange Revolution prevented pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych from
stealing an election, only for voters to return him to power in 2010.
History of Ukraine

Ancient history
Middle Ages
Early modern
Early 20th-century
Soviet era
Topics by history
Ukraine portal

Settlement in Ukraine by members of the homo genus has been documented into
distant prehistory. The Neanderthals are associated with the Molodova archaeological
sites (43,000-45,000 BC) which include a mammoth bone dwelling.
Gravettiansettlements dating to 32,000 BC have been unearthed and studied in the
Buran-Kaya cave site of the Crimean Mountains.
The late Neolithic Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture flourished from about 4500
3000 BC.
The Copper Age people of the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture resided in the
western part, and the Sredny Stog Culture further east, succeeded by the early Bronze
AgeYamna ("Kurgan") culture of the steppes, and by the Catacomb culture in the 3rd
millennium BC.
During the Iron Age, these were followed by the Dacians as well as nomadic
peoples like the Cimmerians, Scythians andSarmatians. The Scythian Kingdom existed
here from 750250 BC. Along with ancient Greek colonies founded in the 6th century
BC on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, the colonies
of Tyras, Olbia, Hermonassa, continued as Roman andByzantine cities until the 6th
In the 3rd century AD, the Goths arrived in the lands of Ukraine around 250375 AD,
which they called Oium, corresponding to the archaeological Chernyakhov
The Ostrogoths stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from
the 370s. North of the Ostrogothic kingdom was the Kiev culture, flourishing from the
2nd5th centuries, when it was overrun by theHuns. After they helped defeat the Huns
at the battle of Nedao in 454, the Ostrogoths were allowed to settle in Pannonia.
With the power vacuum created with the end of Hunnic and Gothic rule, Slavic tribes,
possibly emerging from the remnants of the Kiev culture, began to expand over much of
the territory that is now Ukraine during the 5th century, and beyond to the Balkans from
the 6th century.
In the 7th century, the territory of modern Ukraine was the core of the state of
the Bulgars (often referred to as Old Great Bulgaria) with its capital city of Phanagoria.
At the end of the 7th century, most Bulgar tribes migrated in several directions and the
remains of their state were absorbed by the Khazars, a semi-nomadic
people from Central Asia.
The Khazars founded the Khazar kingdom in the southeastern part of today's Europe,
near the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. The kingdom included western Kazakhstan,
and parts of eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, southern Russia, and Crimea. Around
800 AD, the kingdom converted to Judaism.

Territory of Slavic peoples (6th century).
Kievan Rus'
As Hrushevsky states, the city of Kiev was established during the time when area
around the mid- and low-Dnipro was the part of the Khazar state. He derived that
information from local legends because no written chronicles from that period are left.
The main reasons for that might be the fact that during the Christianization of the Kievan
Rus and later occupation of Ukraine, all earlier religious and historical publications of
that land were destroyed.
In 882, Kiev was conquered from the Khazars by the Varangian noble Oleg who started
the long period of rule of the Rurikidprinces. During this time, several Slavic tribes were
native to Ukraine, including the Polans, the Drevlyans, the Severians, theUlichs,
the Tiverians, the White Croats and the Dulebes. Situated on lucrative trade routes,
Kiev among the Polanians quickly prospered as the center of the powerful Slavic state
of Kievan Rus.
In CE 941, the prince of Kiev invaded the Byzantine Empire but his fleet was destroyed
due to the Byzantine Greek fire.
In the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was, geographically, the largest state in Europe,
becoming known in the rest of Europe asRuthenia (the Latin name for Rus'), especially
for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine",
meaning "in-land" or "native-land",usually interpreted as "border-land", first appears in
historical documents of 12th century and then on history maps of the 16th century
The meaning of this term seems to have been synonymous with the land of Rus'
propriathe principalities of Kiev, Chernihiv andPereyaslav. The term, "Greater Rus'"
was used to apply to all the lands ruled by Kiev, including those that were not just
Slavic, but also Uralic in the north-east portions of the state. Local regional subdivisions
of Rus' appeared in the Slavic heartland, including, "Belarus'" (White Ruthenia),
"Chorna Rus'" (Black Ruthenia) and "Cherven' Rus'" (Red Ruthenia) in northwestern
and western Ukraine.

Historical map of Kievan Rus' and territory of Ukraine: last 20 years of the state (1220
Although Christianity had made headway into the territory of Ukraine before the first
ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea(325) (particularly along the Black Sea coast)
and, in western Ukraine during the time of empire of Great Moravia, the formal
governmental acceptance of Christianity in Rus' occurred at in 988. The major cause of
the Christianization of Kievan Rus' was the Grand-Duke, Vladimir the
Great (Volodymyr). His Christian interest was midwifed by his grandmother, Princess
Olga. Later, an enduring part of the East-Slavic legal tradition was set down by the
Kievan ruler, Yaroslav I, who promulgated the Russkaya Pravda (Truth of Rus') which
endured through the Lithuanian period of Rus'.
Conflict among the various principalities of Rus', in spite of the efforts of Grand
Prince Vladimir Monomakh, led to decline, beginning in the 12th century. In Rus'
propria, the Kiev region, the nascent Rus' principalities of Halych and Volynia extended
their rule. In the north, the name of Moscow appeared in the historical record in the
principality of Suzdal, which gave rise to the nation of Russia. In the north-west, the
principality of Polotsk increasingly asserted the autonomy of Belarus'. Kiev was sacked
by Vladimir principality (1169) in the power struggle between princes and later
by Cumans and Mongol raiders in the 12th and 13th centuries, respectively.
Subsequently, all principalities of present-day Ukraine acknowledged dependence upon
the Mongols (12391240). In 1240, the Mongols sacked Kiev, and many people fled to
other countries.
Five years after the fall of Kiev, Papal envoy Giovanni di Plano Carpini wrote:
"They destroyed cities and castles and killed men and Kiev, which is the greatest
Russian city they besieged; and when they had besieged it a long while they took
it and killed the people of the city. So when we went through that country we
found countless human skulls and bones from the dead scattered over the field.
Indeed it had been a very great and populous city and now is reduced almost to
nothing. In fact there are hardly two hundred houses there now and the people
are held in the strictest servitude."
A successor state to Kievan Rus' on part of the territory of today's Ukraine was the
principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Previously, Vladimir the Great had established the cities
of Halych and Ladomir (later Volodimer) as regional capitals for the western Ukrainian
heartland. This new, more exclusively Ukrainian predecessor state was based upon
the Dulebe, Tiverian and White Croat tribes.
The state was ruled by the descendants of Yaroslav the Wise and Vladimir Monomakh.
For a brief period, the country was ruled by a Hungarian nobleman. Battles with the
neighboring states of Poland and Lithuania also occurred, as well as internecine warfare
with the independent Ruthenian principality ofChernigov to the east. The nation reached
its peak with the extension of rule to neighboring Wallachia/Bessarabia, all the way to
the shores of the Black Sea.
During this period (around 12001400), each principality was independent of the other
for a period of time. The state of Halych-Volynia eventually became a vassal to the
Mongolian Empire, but efforts to gain European support for opposition to the Mongols
continued. This period marked the first "King of Rus'"; previously, the rulers of Rus' were
termed, "Grand Dukes" or "Princes."

The GalicianVolhynian Kingdom in the 13th14th centuries
14th Century
During the 14th century, Poland and Lithuania fought wars against the Mongol invaders,
and eventually most of Ukraine passed to the rule of Poland and Lithuania. More
particularly, the lands of Volynia in the north and north-west passed to the rule of
Lithuanian princes, while the south-west passed to the control of Poland (Galicia) and
Hungary (Zakarpattya). Also the Genoese founded some colonies in Crimean coasts
until Ottoman conquest in 1470s.
Most of Ukraine bordered parts of Lithuania, and some say that the name, "Ukraine"
comes from the local word for "border," although the name "Ukraine" was also used
centuries earlier. Lithuania took control of the state of Volynia in northern and
northwestern Ukraine, including the region around Kiev (Rus'), and the rulers of
Lithuania then adopted the title of ruler of Rus'.
Poland took control of the region of Galicia. Following the union between Poland and
Lithuania, Poles, Germans, Lithuanians and Jews migrated to the region. In 15th
century decline of Golden Horde enabled foundation of Crimean Khanate, which
occupied present Black Sea shores and southern steppes of Ukraine. It was vassal
state of Ottoman Empire till 1774. It was finally dissolved by Russian Empire in 1783.
PolishLithuanian Commonwealth
After the Union of Lublin in 1569 and the formation of the PolishLithuanian
Commonwealth Ukraine fell under Polish administration, becoming part of the Crown of
the Kingdom of Poland. The period immediately following the creation of the
Commonwealth saw a huge revitalisation in colonisation efforts. Many new cities and
villages were founded.
New schools spread the ideas of the Renaissance; Polish peasants arrived in great
numbers and quickly became mixed with the local population; during this time, most of
Ukrainian nobles became polonised and converted to Catholicism, and while most
Ruthenian-speaking peasants remained within theEastern Orthodox Church, social
tension rose.
Ruthenian peasants (Ukrainians and some from other nations) who fled efforts to force
them into serfdom came to be known as Cossacks and earned a reputation for their
fierce martial spirit. Some Cossacks were hired by the Commonwealth (became
'register Cossacks') as soldiers to protect the southeastern borders of Poland
from Tatars or took part in campaigns abroad (like Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny in
the battle of Khotyn 1621). Cossack units were also active in wars between the Polish
Lithuanian Commonwealth and Tsardom of Russia.

PolishLithuanian Commonwealth. Kingdom of Poland

Cossack era
The 1648 Ukrainian Cossack (Kozak) rebellion and war of independence (Khmelnytsky
Uprising), which started an era known as the Ruin (in Polish history as The Deluge),
undermined the foundations and stability of the Commonwealth. The nascent Cossack
state, the Cossack Hetmanate, usually viewed as precursor of Ukraine, found itself in a
three-sided military and diplomatic rivalry with the Ottoman Turks, who controlled the
Tatars to the south, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, and the
rising Russia to the East.
The reconstituted Ukrainian state, having recently fought a bitter war with Poland,
sought a treaty of protection with Russia in 1654. This agreement was known as
the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Commonwealth authorities then sought compromise with the
Ukrainian Cossack state by signing the Treaty of Hadiach in 1658, but after thirteen
years of incessant warfare the agreement was later superseded by 1667 Polish-
Russian Treaty of Andrusovo, which divided Ukrainian territory between the
Commonwealth and Russia. Under Russia, the Cossacks initially retained official
autonomy in theHetmanate. For a time, they also maintained a semi-independent
republic in Zaporozhia, and a colony on the Russian frontier in Sloboda Ukraine.

The Hetmanate in 1654 (against the backdrop of contemporary Ukraine)
Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary
Tsarist rule over central Ukraine gradually replaced 'protection' over the subsequent
decades. After the Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795,the extreme west of
Ukraine fell under the control of the Austrians, with the rest as part of the Russian
Empire. As a result of Russo-Turkish Warsthe Ottoman Empire's control receded from
south-central Ukraine, while the rule of Hungary over the Transcarpathian region
continued. Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were inspired by the nationalistic spirit
stirring other European peoples existing under other imperial governments and became
determined to revive the Ukrainian linguistic and cultural traditions and re-establish a
Ukrainian nation-state, a movement that became known as Ukrainophilism.
Russia, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate the Ukrainian
language and culture, even banning its use and study. This led to an exodus of a
number of Ukrainian intellectuals into Western Ukraine. However, many Ukrainians
accepted their fate in the Russian Empireand some were to achieve a great success
there. Many Russian writers, composers, painters and architects of the 19th century
were of Ukrainian descent. Probably the most notable were Nikolai Gogol, one of the
greatest writers in the history of Russian literature, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of
the greatest composers in the history of Russian music, whose father came of Ukrainian
Cossack stock.

Administrative divisions of Russian Empire superimposed on map of Ukraine

The fate of the Ukrainians was far different under the Austrian Empire where they found
themselves in the pawn position of the Russian-Austrian power struggle for the Central
and Southern Europe. Unlike in Russia, most of the elite that ruled Galicia were of
Austrian or Polish descent, with the Ruthenians being almost exclusively kept in
peasantry. During the 19th century, Russophilia was a common occurrence among the
Slavic population, but the mass exodus of Ukrainian intellectuals escaping from Russian
repression in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the intervention of Austrian authorities, caused
the movement to be replaced by Ukrainophilia, which would then cross-over into the
Russian Empire. With the start ofWorld War I, all those supporting Russia were rounded
up and massacred by the Austrian forces at Talerhof.

A railway station of Fastiv before 1917, in Russian Empire.
First World War, the revolutions and aftermath
When World War I and series of revolutions across the Europe including the October
Revolution in Russia shattered many existing empires such as
the Austrian and Russian ones, while people of Ukraine were caught in the middle.
Between 1917 and 1919, several separate Ukrainian republics manifested
independence, the anarchist Free Territory, the Ukrainian People's Republic, the West
Ukrainian People's Republic, and numerous Bolshevik revkoms.
As the area of Ukraine fell into warfare and anarchy, it was also fought over
by German and Austrian forces, the Red Army of Bolshevik Russia, the White
Forces of General Denikin, the Polish Army, anarchists led by Nestor
Makhno. Kiev itself was occupied by many different armies. The city was captured by
the Bolsheviks on 9 February 1918, by the Germans on 2 March 1918, by the
Bolsheviks a second time on 5 February 1919, by the White Army on 31 August 1919,
by Bolsheviks for a third time on 15 December 1919, by the Polish Army on 6 May
1920, and finally by the Bolsheviks for the fourth time on 12 June 1920.
The defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War and then the failure of the Pisudski's
and Petliura's Warsaw agreement of 1920 to oust the Bolsheviks during the Kiev
Operation led almost to the occupation of Poland itself. In course of the new Polish-
Soviet War purpose of which changed from the 1920 led to the signing of the Peace of
Riga in March 1921, and after which the part of Ukraine west of Zbruch had been
incorporated into Poland, and the east became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian
Soviet Socialist Republic.

Pavlo Skoropadskyi

Coat of arms of the West Ukrainian People's Republic

Coat of arms of theUkrainian State
Soviet Ukraine
The Ukrainian national idea lived on during the inter-war years and was even spread to
a large territory with traditionally mixed population in the east and south that became
part of the Ukrainian Soviet republic.
The Ukrainian culture even enjoyed a revival due to Bolshevik concessions in the early
Soviet years (until early-1930s) known as the policy of Korenization ("indigenisation"). In
these years, an impressive Ukrainization program was implemented throughout the
The rapidly developed Ukrainian language based education system dramatically raised
the literacy of the Ukrainophone rural population. Simultaneously, the newly-literate
ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which became rapidly largely Ukrainianisedin
both population and in education. Similarly expansive was an increase in Ukrainian
language publishing and overall eruption of Ukrainian cultural life.
At the same time, the usage of Ukrainian was continuously encouraged in the
workplace and in the government affairs as the recruitment of indigenous cadre was
implemented as part of the korenisation policies. While initially, the party and
government apparatus was mostly Russian-speaking, by the end of 1920s the ethnic
Ukrainians composed over one half of the membership in the Ukrainian communist
party, the number strengthened by accession of Borotbists, a formerly indigenously
Ukrainian "independentist" and non-Bolshevik communist party.

Flag of Soviet Ukraine
Despite the ongoing Soviet Union-wide antireligious campaign, the Ukrainian
national Orthodox church was created called the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox
Church (UAOC). The Bolshevik government initially saw the national church as a tool in
their goal to suppress the Russian Orthodox Church always viewed with the great
suspicion by the regime for its being the cornerstone of pre-revolutionary Russian
Empire and the initially strong opposition it took towards the regime change. Therefore,
the government tolerated the new Ukrainian national church for some time and the
UAOC gained a wide following among the Ukrainian peasantry.
The change in the Soviet economic policies towards the fast-pace industrialisation was
marked by the 1928 introduction of Joseph Stalin's firstpiatiletka (a five-year plan). The
industrialisation brought about a dramatic economic and social transformation in
traditionally agricultural Ukraine. In the first piatiletkas the industrial output of Ukraine
quadrupled as the republic underwent a record industrial development. The massive
influx of the rural population to the industrial centres increased the urban population
from 19% to 34%.

A 1934 photo of the DnieproGES hydropower plant, a heavyweight of Soviet industrialization in
Soviet collectivization
However, 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 finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture,
which profoundly affected Ukraine, often referred to as the "breadbasket of the USSR".
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the state combined the peasants' lands and animals
into collective farms. Starting in 1929, a policy of enforcement was applied, using
regular troops and secret police to confiscate lands and materials where necessary.
Many resisted, and a desperate struggle by the peasantry against the authorities
ensued. Some slaughtered their livestock rather than turn it over to the collectives.
Wealthier peasants were labeled "kulaks", enemies of the state. Tens of thousands
were executed and about 100,000 families were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan.
Forced collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. Despite this,
in 1932 the Soviet government increased Ukraine's production quotas by 44%, ensuring
that they could not be met. Soviet law required that the members of a collective farm
would receive no grain until government quotas were satisfied. The authorities in many
instances exacted such high levels of procurement from collective farms that starvation
became widespread.
The precise number of Ukrainians murdered by hunger by the Stalinist regime may
never be precisely known. That said the most recent demographic studies suggest that
over 4 million Ukrainians perished in the first six months of 1933 alone, a figure that
increases if population losses from 1931, 1932 and 1934 are also included, along with
those from adjacent territories inhabited primarily by Ukrainians (but politically part of
the Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic).
The Soviet Union suppressed information about this genocide, and as late as the 1980s
admitted only that there was some hardship because of kulak sabotage and bad
weather. Today, its existence is accepted. Non-Soviets maintain that the famine was an
avoidable, deliberate act of genocide.
The times of industrialisation and collectivisation also brought about a wide campaign
against "nationalist deviation" which in Ukraine translated into an assault on the national
political and cultural elite. The first wave of purges between 1929 and 1934 targeted the
revolutionary generation of the party that in Ukraine included many supporters
of Ukrainization. The next 19361938 wave of political purges eliminated much of the
new political generation that replaced those that perished in the first wave and halved
the membership of the Ukrainian communist party.
The purged Ukrainian political leadership was largely replaced by the cadre sent
from Russia that was also largely "rotated" by Stalin's purges. As the policies of
Ukrainisation were halted (1931) and replaced by massive Russification approximately
four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite, intellectuals, writers, artists and clergy, had
been "eliminated", executed or imprisoned, in the following decade. Mass arrests of the
hierarchy and clergy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church culminated in the
liquidation of the church in 1930.
Galicia and Volhynia under Polish rule
Following the end of World War I, the eastern part of the former Austrian province
of Galicia, as well as Volhynia, which had belonged to the Russian Empire, became the
area of a Polish-Ukrainian War. The Ukrainians claimed these lands because they
made up the majority of population there (except for cities, such as Lviv), while the
Poles saw these provinces as Eastern Borderlands, a historical part of their country.
The war was won by the Poles, and their rule over these disputed lands was cemented
after another Polish victory, in the Polish-Soviet War.
In the interbellum period, eastern Galicia was divided into three administrative units
Lww Voivodeship, Stanisaww Voivodeship, and Tarnopol Voivodeship, while in
Volhynia, Woy Voivodeship was created. The Ukrainian majority of these lands were
further oppressed by the Polish authorities, and the conflict escalated in the 1930s, due
in part to actions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The tensions were
further exacerbated by arrival of thousands of osadniks, or Polish settlers, who were
granted land, especially in Volhynia.
Polish rule over the provinces ended in September 1939, following Nazi and Soviet
attack. After Battle of Lwow, units of the Red Army entered regional capital, Lviv, and
following Elections to the People's Assemblies of Western Ukraine and Western
Belarus, both eastern Galicia and Volhynia were annexed by the Soviet Union.
A few days after the Germans invaded Poland, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin told an
aide his long-term goal was the spread of Communism in Eastern Europe:

The breaking of the siege of Lviv by Poles (November 1919) and the Polish border at
the Zbruch River by the wars end, with eastern Galicia (shown in blue) under the Polish control.
"Now [Poland] is a fascist state, oppressing the Ukrainians, Belorussians and so
forth. The annihilation of that state under current conditions would mean one
fewer bourgeois fascist state to contend with! What would be the harm if as a
result of the rout off Poland we were to extend the socialist system onto new
territories and populations."
Geoffrey Roberts notes that the comments marked a change from the previous
"popular front" policy of Communist Party cooperation with other parties. He adds,
"Stalin's immediate purpose was to present an ideological rationale for the Red
Army's forthcoming invasion of Poland" and his main message was the need to
avoid a revolutionary civil war.
Historian Timothy D. Snyder suggests that, "Stalin may have reasoned that returning
Galicia and Volhynia to Soviet Ukraine would help co-opt Ukrainian nationalism.
Stalin perhaps saw a way to give both Ukrainians and Poles something they wanted,
while binding them to the USSR."
Bukovina under Romanian rule
Transcarpathia under Czechoslovakia and Hungary
World War II
Following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, in September 1939, German and Soviet
troops divided the territory of Poland, includingGalicia with its Ukrainian population.
Next, after France surrendered to Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and
northernBukovina to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and
southern districts of Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina, and additionally the Soviet-
occupied Hertsa region, but ceded the western part of the Moldavian ASSR to the newly
created Moldavian SSR. All these territorial gains were internationally recognized by
the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947.
When Nazi Germany with its allies invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, many Ukrainians
and Polish people, particularly in the west where they had experienced two years of
harsh Soviet rule, initially regarded the Wehrmacht soldiers as liberators. Some
Ukrainian activist of the national movement hoped for a momentum to establish an
independent state of Ukraine. German policies initially gave some encouragement to
such hopes through the vague promises of sovereign 'Greater Ukraine' as the Germans
were trying to take advantage of anti-Soviet, anti-Ukrainian, anti-Polish, and anti-Jewish
A local Ukrainian auxiliary police was formed as well as Ukrainian SS
division, 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galicia (1st Ukrainian). However,
after the initial period of a limited tolerance, the German policies soon abruptly changed
and the Ukrainian national movement was brutally crushed.

Ukrainian SSR in 1940, after the Soviet invasions of Poland andRomania and before
the German invasion of Soviet Union.
Some Ukrainians, however, utterly resisted the Nazi onslaught from its start and
a partisan movement immediately spread over the occupied territory. Some elements of
the Ukrainian nationalist underground formed a Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought
both Soviet and Nazi forces. In some western regions of Ukraine, the Ukrainian
Insurgent Army survived underground and continued the resistance against the Soviet
authorities well into the 1950s, though many Ukrainian civilians were murdered in this
conflict by both sides.

The formation of the territory of Ukraine.
The Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the
population's possible dissatisfaction with Soviet political and economic policies. Instead,
the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal
policies against Jews, and deported many Ukrainians to forced labour in Germany. In
their active resistance to Nazi Germany, the Ukrainians comprised a significant share of
the Red Army and its leadership as well as the underground and resistance
movements. Total civilian losses during the War and German occupation in Ukraine are
estimated at seven million, including over a million Jews shot and killed by
the Einsatzgruppen.
Many civilians fell victim to atrocities, forced labor, and even massacres of whole
villages in reprisal for attacks against Nazi forces. Of the estimated eleven million Soviet
troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, about 16% (1.7 million) were ethnic
Ukrainians. Moreover, Ukraine saw some of the biggest battles of the war starting with
the encirclement of Kiev (the city itself fell to the Germans on 19 September 1941 and
was later acclaimed as a Hero City) where more than 660,000 Russian troops were
taken captive, to the fierce defence of Odessa, and on to the victorious storming across
the Dnieper river. According to the researcher Rolf Michaelis who is referring to the SS-
Hauptamt's document No. 8699/42, the Police Battalion "Ostland" (Field Post Number
47769) resided in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine in 1941-1942, and was one of the
main executioners of the Jews. The Police Battalion "Ostland" was
an Ordnungspolizei unit that served in World War II under the command of
the Schutzstaffel. The battalion established in October 1941 carried out punitive duties.
On June 28, 1941 the town of Rivne (Rwne) was captured by Nazi Germany, which
later established the city as the administrative centre of theReichskommissariat Ukraine.
In July 1941 the 1st company of the Police Battalion "Ostland" was in Frankfurt, the rest
of the battalion was inRivne. In October 1941 the battalion was sent to Lviv (Lww). At
the time, roughly half of Rwne's inhabitants were Jewish. About 23,000 of these people
were taken to a pine grove in Sosenki and slaughtered by the 1st company of the Police
Battalion "Ostland" between the November 6, and 8, 1941 (1st company). A ghetto was
established for the remaining ca 5,000 Jews. As reported on May 11, 1942, ca 1,000
Jews were executed in Minsk.
On July 1314, 1942, the remaining population of the Rwne ghetto - about 5,000 Jews
- was sent by train some 70 kilometres north to Kostopil(Kostopol) where they were
murdered by the 1st company of the Police Battalion "Ostland" in a quarry near woods
outside the town. The Rwne ghetto was subsequently liquidated. As reported on July
14, 1942: The battalion or elements of it provided security along with theUkrainische
Hilfspolizei for a transport of the Jews from the Riga Ghetto to the Riga Central
Station using the wagons (1st company). July 15, 1942 another thousand Jews were
executed in the same place. As reported on June 27, 1942, ca 8,000 Jews were
executed near the town of Sonim. As reported on July 28, 1942, ca 6,000 Jews were
executed in Minsk.
In November 1942 the Police Battalion Ostland together with an artillery regiment, and
three other German Ordnungspolizei battalions under the command of Befehlshaber der
Ordnungspolizei im Reichskommissariat Ukraine and SS-Gruppenfhrer und
Generalleutnant der Polizei Otto von Oelhafen, took part in a joint anti-partisan
operation near Ovruch (Owrucz) with over 50 villages burnt down and over 1,500
people executed. In a village 40 people were burnt alive for revenge for the killing of the
SS-Untersturmfhrer Trnpu(u). In February 1943 the battalion was sent to Reval,
Estland with Polizei Fsilier Bataillon 293. By March 31, 1943, the Estnische Legion had
37 officers, 175 noncoms and 62 privates of the Police Battalion "Ostland".
Kiev was recaptured by the Soviet Red Army on 6 November 1943.

Burned out buildings in Kiev during the Second World War.

German occupation of Ukraine stamp of 1941

Ukrainians being deportedto Nazi Germany for forced labor, 1942

Battle of the dam in Zaporizhia, 1943
Post-war (1945-91)
After World War II some amendments to the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR were
accepted, which allowed it to act as a separate subject ofinternational law in some
cases and to a certain extent, remaining a part of the Soviet Union at the same time. In
particular, these amendments allowed the Ukrainian SSR to become one of founding
members of the United Nations (UN) together with the Soviet Union and
the Byelorussian SSR. This was part of a deal with the United States to ensure a
degree of balance in the General Assembly, which, the USSR opined, was unbalanced
in favor of the Western Bloc. In its capacity as a member of the UN, the Ukrainian SSR
was an elected member of the United Nations Security Council in 19481949 and
Over the next decades, the Ukrainian republic not only surpassed pre-war levels of
industry and production but also was the spearhead of Soviet power. Ukraine became
the centre of Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. The republic was also turned
into a Soviet military outpost in thecold war, a territory crowded by military bases
packed with the most up-to-date weapons systems.
Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of
the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notablyNikita Khrushchev and Leonid
Brezhnev a Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet
sportsmen, scientists and artists. In 1954, the Russian-populated oblast of Crimea was
transferred from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

Central Kharkiv during the 1980s.
However, the relatively underdeveloped industrial branches such as coal- and iron
ore mining, metallurgy, chemical and energy industry dominated the republic's
Once a Cossacksteppe, the southern oblasts of Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia were
turned into a highly industrialised area with rapidly increasing impact on its environment
and public health. A pursuit to energy production sufficient for growing industry led to
the gigantic nature-remastering: turning the Dnieper River into a regulated system of
large reservoirs.
The products of the rapidly developed high-tech industry in Ukraine were largely
directed for military consumption, similarly to much of the Soviet economy, and the
supply and quality of consumer goods remained low compared even to the neighboring
countries of the Eastern bloc. A state-regulated system of production and consumption
lead to gradual decrease of quality of life and growing "shadowisation" of retail
infrastructure as well as of corruption.
The town of Pripyat, Ukraine was the site of the Chernobyl disaster, which occurred on
April 26, 1986 when a nuclear plant exploded. The fallout contaminated large areas of
northern Ukraine and even parts of Belarus. This spurred on a local independence
movement called the Rukh that helped expedite the break-up of the Soviet Union during
the late 1980s.
Independence (1991)
Kravchuk and Kuchma rule (19912004)
On January 21, 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians
organised a human chain for
Ukrainian independence between Kiev and Lviv, in memory of the 1919 unification of
the Ukrainian People's Republicand the West Ukrainian National Republic. Citizens
came out to the streets and highways, forming live chains by holding hands in support
of unity.
Ukraine officially declared itself an independent state on August 24, 1991, when the
communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine will no
longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of the Ukrainian SSR, de facto
declaring Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union. On December 1, Ukrainian
voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum formalising independence from the
Soviet Union. Over 90% of Ukrainian citizens voted for independence, with majorities in
every region, including 56% in Crimea, which had a 75% ethnic Russian population.
The Soviet Union formally ceased to exist on December 26, when the presidents of
Ukraine, Belarus and Russia (the founding members of the USSR) met in Belovezh
Pushcha to formally dissolve the Union in accordance with the Soviet Constitution. And
with this Ukraine's independence was formalized de jure and recognised by the
international community.
Poland and Canada were the first countries to recognize Ukraine's independence (both)
on 2 December 1991.
The history of Ukraine between 1991 and 2004 was marked by the presidencies
of Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma. This was a time of transition for Ukraine. While
it had attained nominal independence from Russia, its presidents maintained close ties
with their neighbours.
On June 1, 1996, Ukraine became a non-nuclear nation when it sent the last of its 1,900
strategic nuclear warheads it had inherited from the Soviet Union to Russia for
dismantling.; Ukraine had committed to this by signing the Budapest Memorandum on
Security Assurances in January 1994.
The country adopted its constitution on June 28.
The Cassette Scandal of 2000 was one of the turning points in post-independence
history of the country.

Leonid Kravchuk in 1992

Leonid Kuchma
Orange Revolution (2004)
In 2004, Leonid Kuchma announced that he would not run for re-election. Two major
candidates emerged in the 2004 presidential election. Viktor Yanukovych, the
incumbent Prime Minister, supported by both Kuchma and by the Russian Federation,
wanted closer ties with Russia. The main opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko,
called for Ukraine to turn its attention westward and eventually join the EU.
In the runoff election, Yanukovych officially won by a narrow margin, but Yushchenko
and his supporters cried foul, alleging that vote rigging and intimidation cost him many
votes, especially in eastern Ukraine. A political crisis erupted after the opposition started
massive street protests in Kiev and other cities, and the Supreme Court of
Ukraine ordered the election results null and void. A second runoff found Viktor
Yushchenko the winner. Five days later, Viktor Yanukovych resigned from office and his
cabinet was dismissed on January 5, 2005.

Protesters at Independence Square on the first day of the Orange Revolution.
Since the Orange Revolution
In March 2006, the Verkhovna Rada elections took place and three months later the
official government was formed by the "Anti-Crisis Coalition" among the Party of
Regions, Communist, and Socialist parties. The latter party switched from the "Orange
Coalition" with Our Ukraine, and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. The new coalition
nominated Viktor Yanukovych for the post of Prime Minister. Yanukovych once again
became Prime Minister, while the leader of the Socialist Party,Oleksander Moroz,
managed to secure the position of chairman of parliament, which is believed by many to
have been the reason for his leaving the Orange Coalition, where he had not been
considered for this position.
On April 2, 2007, President Yushchenko dissolved the Verkhovna Rada because
members of his party were defecting to the opposition. His opponents called the move
unconstitutional. When they took the matter to the Constitutional Court, Yushchenko
dismissed 3 of the court's 18 judges, accusing them of corruption.
During the Yushchenko term, relations between Russia and Ukraine often appeared
strained as Yushchenko looked towards improved relations with the European Union
and less toward Russia. In 2005, a highly publicized dispute over natural gas
prices took place, involving Russian state-owned gas supplier Gazprom, and indirectly
involving many European countries which depend on natural gas supplied by Russia
through the Ukrainian pipeline. A compromise was reached in January 2006, and in
early 2010 a further agreement was signed locking the price of Russian gas at $100 per
1,000 cubic meters in an exclusive arrangement.
By the time of the presidential election of 2010, Yushchenko and Tymoshenko allies
during the Orange Revolution had become bitter enemies. Tymoshenko ran for
president against both Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych, creating a three-way race.
Yushchenko, whose popularity had plummeted, refused to close ranks and support
Tymoshenko, thus dividing the anti-Yanukovych vote. Many pro-Orange voters stayed
home. Yanukovych received 48% of the vote and Yushchenko less than 6%, an amount
which, if thrown to Tymoshenko, who received 45%, would have prevented Yanukovych
from gaining the presidency; since no candidate obtained an absolute majority in the
first round of voting the two highest polling candidates contested in a run-off second
ballot which Yanukovych won.
During Yanukovych's term he has been accused of tightening of press restrictions and a
renewed effort in the parliament to limit freedom of assembly. When young, Yanukovych
was sentenced to 3 years because of theft, looting and vandalism and later had his
sentenced doubled. One frequently-cited example of Yankukovych's alleged attempts to
centralize power is the August 2011 arrest of Yulia Tymoshenko. Other high-profile
political opponents also came under criminal investigation since. On 11 October 2011, a
Ukrainian court sentenced Tymoshenko to seven years in prison after she was found
guilty of abuse of office when brokering the 2009 gas deal with Russia. The conviction is
seen as "justice being applied selectively under political motivation" by the European
Union and other international organizations.

Viktor Yushchenko withchloracne from TCDDdioxin poisoning (2006).

Yulia Tymoshenko (2010)

Viktor Yanukovych (2010)
Historiography of Ukraine
The scholarly study of Ukraine's history emerged from romantic impulses in the late
19th century. The outstanding leaders were Volodymyr Antonovych (18341908), based
in Kiev, and his student Mykhailo Hrushevsky (18661934). For the first time full-scale
scholarly studies based on archival sources, modern research techniques, and modern
historical theories became possible. However, the demands of government officials
especially Soviet, but also Czarists and Polishmade it difficult to disseminate ideas
that ran counter to the central government. Therefore exile schools of historians
emerged in central Europe and Canada after 1920.
Strikingly different interpretations of the medieval state of Kievan Rus' appear in the four
schools of historiography within Ukraine: Russophile, Sovietophile, Eastern Slavic, and
Ukrainophile. The Sovietophile and Russophile schools have become marginalized in
independent Ukraine, with the Ukrainophile school being dominant in the early 21st
century. The Ukrainophile school promotes an identity that is mutually exclusive of
Russia. It has come to dominate the nation's educational system, security forces, and
national symbols and monuments, although it has been dismissed as nationalist by
Western historians. The East Slavic school, an eclectic compromise between
Ukrainophiles and Russophilism, has a weaker ideological and symbolic base, although
it is preferred by Ukraine's centrist former elites.
Many historians in recent years have sought alternatives to national histories, and
Ukrainian history invited approaches that looked beyond a national paradigm.
Multiethnic history recognizes the numerous peoples in Ukraine; transnational history
portrays Ukraine as a border zone for various empires; and area studies categorizes
Ukraine as part of Eurasia, or more often as part of East-Central Europe. Plokhy (2007)
argues that looking beyond the country's national history has made possible a richer
understanding of Ukraine, its people, and the surrounding regions.
After 1991, historical memory was a powerful tool in the political mobilization and
legitimation of the post-Soviet Ukrainian state, as well as the division of selectively used
memory along the lines of the political division of Ukrainian society. Ukraine did not
experience the restorationist paradigm typical of some other post-Soviet nations,
including the Baltic states, although the multifaceted history of independence, the
Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Soviet-era repressions, mass famine, and World War II
collaboration were used to provide a different constitutive frame for the new Ukrainian
nation. The politics of identity (which includes the production of history textbooks and
the authorization of commemorative practices) has remained fragmented and tailored to
reflect the ideological anxieties and concerns of individual regions of Ukraine.
In 2013 the Ukrainian Ministry of Education removed leading figures in Ukraine after the
Russian Revolution, Ukrainian nationalists like Stepan Bandera and Roman
Shukhevych and a number ofSoviet dissidents of the list of "minimum necessary
knowledge of graduates" and replaced them with Soviet military leaders and Communist
Party of the Soviet Union party activists.
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
southeastern 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