A Brief History of Ukraine


The Carpathian Mountains are the true national symbol of Ukraine. The mountains, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are shared by seven countries, with the largest part in Romania and about 10% in Ukraine. Visitors to the region can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and winter sports. Other popular outdoor activities in the area include parachuting, scuba diving, horseback riding, and paintball. Ukraine has an abundant number of lakes, rivers, and many of these are regarded as the most beautiful in the world.

In 1917, Ukraine briefly gained independence. A socialist government, the Ukrainian People’s Republic (Ukrains’ka narodna respublika), was formed but could not withstand the Bolshevik advance, and fell to the Russians. The country was then ruled by a conservative monarchist government, led by Pavlo Skoropadskyi. After the Russian invasion in 1812, the new government, led by a left-leaning UNR under Symon Petliura, was elected.

In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Ukraine holds a referendum on independence. The vote passes with a wide majority across the country, including the Crimean region. The country must now rebuild its state, economy, and political system. The challenges that lie ahead are many, but the country remains hopeful. The Euromaidan revolution prompted many major reforms that are improving the country’s image worldwide. However, despite the difficult times, it is important to remember that Ukraine remains a country of many cultures.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the result of a long history of conflict and division. The Soviets’ aggressive foreign policy led to a disastrous famine in Ukraine in the early 20th century, which killed at least 3 million people. Ultimately, the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 resulted in Ukraine gaining independence. Ukraine had been housed within the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, and the Soviet Union was forced to transfer the weapons to Moscow.

In the early Middle Ages, Kievan Rus’ ruled over much of the area but never conquered the Turkic tribes in the east. The Wild Fields, which include the regions of present-day Russia, became a no-man’s-land. After the Polish-Lithuanian conquest, the Zaporizhian Cossacks established a modicum of control. In the 17th century, the Cossacks had become largely autonomous.

Recent scholarship argues that the Bolsheviks sponsored nationalities that eventually split off from the Soviet Union. Similarly, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic had the eastern borders of present-day Ukraine in 1919, according to Vladimir Putin’s speech to the Russian parliament on March 18, 2014. The Bolsheviks added large sections of historical South Russia to Ukraine without considering the ethnic composition of the population. In fact, the Bolsheviks have made similar claims on various occasions.

The territorial history of Ukraine is complex, intertwined with Russian, Polish, Greek Orthodox Church, Romanian, and Turkic peoples of the Eurasian Steppe. Lenoe’s article fact-checks Putin’s historical claims and analyzes the different ideas of nationhood and statehood in Ukraine. The underlying motive behind such rhetoric is that Putin is attempting to exploit anti-Semitism in order to gain more power in his upcoming election.