Prior to the 18th century, most of what is now Ukraine was ruled by the Polish-Lithuanian nobility. At that time, most of the population was Orthodox East Slavs, who formed semi-autonomous states called Cossack statelets. Many of these people felt a strong affinity for Muscovite Russia and fought against the Polish-Lithuanian rule. In 1648, the Zaporizhian Cossacks staged a major uprising against their Polish overlords and signed an alliance treaty with the Tsardom of Russia.
The country’s anti-Russian sentiment has grown in recent years, with growing Western appeal. For many Ukrainians, the European Union’s promise of democracy and economic prosperity was an irresistible lure. Then, the Yanukovych presidency shifted toward authoritarianism, and a series of protests in the Ukrainian capital quickly grew into a wider movement.
Despite Ukraine’s relatively recent history, the country has been the site of numerous political and cultural disasters. Ukraine was the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, considered the worst nuclear plant disaster in history. While this disaster destroyed much of the country’s economy, it also gave rise to a unique national consciousness. In the 19th century, Ukraine’s elites and intelligentsia were united and consolidated as Ukrainian nationalists. In 1991, Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. In 2004, a pro-European Orange Revolution forced a change of government, and a pro-European movement, called the Maidan Revolution, forced another pro-European government to step aside.
In the wake of Ukraine’s military intervention, Russia launched a major military offensive against the country. Aside from a major invasion, Russia has been attacking Ukraine for several years. Russia is currently attacking Ukraine from the northwest through Belarus. In February, Russian troops invaded Ukraine. On the day of the Russian invasion, the country’s parliament adopted a Resolution on the dissociation of the President of Ukraine from constitutional powers and appointed early presidential elections. The Resolution on the dissociation of Ukraine led to accusations of an “unconstitutional coup.”
In terms of geography, Ukraine has three major river systems. The Dnieper River, which flows northwest to southeast, dominates the central portion of the country and has many tributaries. The Dnieper is the longest river in Ukraine and drains over half the country. The Dniester River is also a major river in the country and flows into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The conflict has resulted in widespread violence against women. Many victims of violence were disadvantaged ethnic groups or the elderly. In addition, the conflict has affected gender equality and limited women’s participation in conflict resolution. Unfortunately, both the Government and its development partners have failed to make significant investments in programs that address gender equality and the role of women in peace and governance.
Ukraine has uneven climate conditions, with the highest precipitation occurring in June and the lowest in February. Snow falls mostly in late November and early December, and snowfall can range from a few inches in the steppe region to several feet in the mountains. The lowlands along the Crimean and Black Seas experience less than sixteen inches of precipitation annually, while the rest of the country receives sixteen to twenty-four inches of rainfall per year.