Ukraine is a vast country with rich history, diverse cultural traditions and a central position in Europe. Its tense relationship with Russia has shaped the region’s political landscape for centuries, but now that Ukraine is in its third decade of independence, it faces a new threat.
The conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed over 14,000 people, displaced tens of thousands, and prompted international condemnation. But it has also pushed Ukraine toward greater Western integration, strengthening the country’s interest in joining NATO and the EU.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has faced an uphill struggle to balance its relations with the West and to bridge deep divisions within the country. A more nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking population in western parts of the country generally supported greater integration with Europe, while a predominantly Russian-speaking community in the east preferred closer ties with Russia.
At the same time, a pro-Western government in Kyiv was struggling to build support for its policies among a skeptical, anti-Russian majority in the east and among non-Ukrainians in the west. This ambivalence helped give rise to peaceful mass protests, including the Orange Revolution in 2004, that swept into power reformist President Viktor YUSHCHENKO and his pro-European allies.
As the country’s leadership struggles to find a balance between foreign policy and internal divisions, a new generation of Ukrainians has emerged that is reshaping its place in Europe and the world. A recent poll suggests that a growing number of Ukrainians now favor greater ties with the West and a stronger defense against Russia.
This new generation of activists is demanding a more open, inclusive Ukraine. It’s also seeking to bolster the country’s defense and security, to increase its engagement with Europe, and to build more partnerships across the Global South.
The country’s leaders are now pursuing an ambitious long-term strategy to help Ukraine win the war against Russia and secure its peace. This includes strengthening partnerships in the Global South, boosting trade and economic ties with Europe, and building military and security capabilities to protect the country from Russian aggression.
Despite this, Ukrainians continue to face a series of repressive actions, some of which are unfounded. A leading independent journalist has been imprisoned, a prominent political scientist is detained, and an investigative group is under investigation for alleged treason.
A group of independent documentary filmmakers and human rights activists is attempting to document the crimes against democracy in Ukraine, particularly those committed by the ruling elite. The group’s filming of government officials and their supporters is attracting attention in the international community, although the government has threatened them with imprisonment and violence.
Another group, the Ukrainian Institute of America, is trying to promote Ukrainian culture and language. It is located in a landmarked mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and holds events such as poetry readings, concerts, and film screenings.
In the United States, there are plenty of great places to get some of your favorite Ukrainian dishes. Here are some of our favorites:
If you’re looking for a place that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, look no further than Katya’s. This Brooklyn eatery has a wide range of traditional Eastern European dishes on their menu, including borscht (made with meat), holuptsi (cabbage rolls), olivye salad (creamy potato salad), and stuffed cabbage rolls called pelmeni.