As a former Soviet republic, Ukraine has been on a journey to establish itself as a democratic state with a vibrant market economy. The United States is committed to supporting this effort and strengthening the country’s alliance with Europe and NATO.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Ukraine in 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, the country has pursued a vision of aligning with Western institutions while balancing deep internal divisions.
Ukraine has a unique opportunity to strengthen its democracy, build a prosperous and secure economy, and create an environment in which the rights of all citizens are fully respected and protected. Ukraine needs the United States’ unwavering support and resolve as it defends its sovereignty against Russia’s continuing aggression.
Ukrainians are a diverse group with many beliefs, cultures and traditions. Although a majority are Orthodox Christian or Eastern rite (Greek) Catholic, the country is home to Protestants, Jews, Muslims and adherents of other faiths. Ukraine has an exceptionally rich and varied culture – from the magnificent edifices of Kievan Rus Cathedral and the golden-domed St Sophia Cathedral, both included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, to more modern forms of artistic expression such as embroidery and pysanky (wax-resist decorated Easter eggs).
Like other European countries, traditional Ukrainian food overlaps with neighboring regional cuisines, including those of Central and Eastern Europe. Popular dishes include borscht (the sometimes difficult-to-pin-down beet soup) and varennyky (pirogies, dumplings with any number of possible savory or sweet fillings). Breads are also common, as are pickled and fermented foods such as dill and sauerkraut, garlicky cured pork fat called salo, and ground meat kotleti with mashed potatoes.
Mlyntsi (thin, leavened pancakes) are a staple throughout the country. They can be served savory for breakfast or lunch, with sour cream and caviar, or as a dessert paired with fruit preserves. Stuffed versions of mlyntsi, known as nalysynky, can be made with cottage cheese, stewed cabbage, mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs or other ingredients.
For those who want to try some Ukrainian fare at home, there are a number of restaurants that specialize in traditional recipes. Among them are Katya’s, which is located in a former Soviet bakery and offers brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert, including such items as borscht, holuptsi (cabbage rolls) and baklazhani (eggplant salad). Also try pirozhki, baked or fried buns that can be filled with cabbage and mushroom, beef and chicken, or spinach and cheese. Desserts are also plentiful and include nut and poppy seed torte, Kyiv cake, zhele (jellied fruits) and varennya (whole fruit preserves cooked in sugar syrup).