Until the 18th century, the vast majority of what is now Ukraine was ruled by the Polish-Lithuanian nobility. The natives of this region were mostly Orthodox East Slavs who formed semi-autonomous states called Cossack statelets. Most of these ethnic groups were attracted to Muscovite Russia and felt affinity toward the Russian Empire. In 1648, the Zaporizhian Cossacks staged a major uprising against the Polish overlords. This event prompted the Russian Tsardom to sign an alliance treaty with the Cossacks.
Ukraine’s geography includes many distinct regions and ecosystems. The Dnieper Upland is the largest highland area, and it is located between the middle reaches of the Dnipro and Southern Buh rivers. This area is dissected by several river valleys, and it is bordered by the Volyn-Podilsk Upland and the Sea of Azov. Neither region consists entirely of mountains, though there are some that reach over 1,000 feet.
There are a variety of ways to travel through Ukraine, including air travel. Airlines, buses, and trains are popular modes of transportation. Ukraine’s major railway stations are in Lviv and Kyiv. Many international train routes run through Ukraine. The country is also connected to most European cities and other countries by bus. The most popular routes include Moscow-Kiev, Minsk-Kiev, and Warsaw-Lviv.
There are a number of recent developments in the Ukrainian human rights situation. The government has passed several laws aimed at preventing domestic violence. These laws include the removal of legal obstacles for prosecuting police and military personnel who commit domestic violence. However, despite these efforts, gender-based violence and violations of international humanitarian law remain widespread. In the eastern Ukraine, the security services have been accused of violating international humanitarian law. However, these investigations have been delayed.
The Ukraine situation is complex, but the United States has been consistent in its policy toward Ukraine since the beginning of the Trump administration. Senior administration officials have stated that the U.S. would not accept the annexation of Crimea, and U.S. lawmakers have enacted legislation that eases sanctions against Russia. Both President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have visited Ukraine, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited the country as well. The United States and Ukraine have also established a council for trade and investment cooperation, which will work to improve commercial opportunities between the two countries.
In early 1994, the U.S. endorsed a new grand strategy aimed at containing Russian influence in Eastern Europe. Specifically, the new grand strategy included Ukraine as a key counterbalance to Russia. In addition, the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia pledged to recognize Ukraine’s independence and support its efforts to become a nuclear-free state.
Since the end of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia have maintained testy relations. However, the differences seemed manageable. However, Russia’s support for armed separatists in the Donbas region triggered a change in attitudes within Ukraine, and the appeal of Western institutions has increased.