History of Ukraine
During the Middle Ages, the area was a key centre of East Slavic culture under the state of Kievan Rus', which emerged in the 9th century and was destroyed by a Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol invasion, the Kingdom of Ruthenia of the XIII-XIV centuries became the successor of Kievan Rus' on the side of modern Ukraine, which was later absorbed by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania became the de facto successor of the traditions of Kievan Rus'. Ruthenian lands within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania enjoyed wide autonomy. Over the next 600 years, the area was contested, divided, and ruled by a variety of external powers, including the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Tsardom of Russia. The Cossack Hetmanate emerged in central Ukraine in the 17th century, but was partitioned between Russia and Poland, and ultimately absorbed by the Russian Empire. After the Russian Revolution a Ukrainian national movement re-emerged, and formed the Ukrainian People's Republic in 1917. This short-lived state was forcibly reconstituted by the Bolsheviks into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became a founding member of the Soviet Union in 1922. In the 1930s millions of Ukrainians were killed by the Holodomor, a man-made famine of the Stalinist era.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine regained independence and declared itself neutral; forming a limited military partnership with the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, while also joining the Partnership for Peace with NATO in 1994.
Table of Contents / Timeline
Settlement by modern humans in Ukraine and its vicinity dates back to 32,000 BC, with evidence of the Gravettian culture in the Crimean Mountains. By 4,500 BC, the Neolithic Cucuteni–Trypillia culture was flourishing in wide areas of modern Ukraine, including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. Ukraine is also considered to be the likely location of the first domestication of the horse. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian kingdom.
From the 6th century BC, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine colonies were established on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea, such as at Tyras, Olbia, and Chersonesus. These thrived into the 6th century AD. The Goths stayed in the area, but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s. In the 7th century, the territory that is now eastern Ukraine was the centre of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions, and the Khazars took over much of the land.
In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Early Slavic, Antes people lived in Ukraine. The Antes were the ancestors of Ukrainians: White Croats, Severians, Eastern Polans, Drevlyans, Dulebes, Ulichians, and Tiverians. Migrations from the territories of present-day Ukraine throughout the Balkans established many South Slavic nations. Northern migrations, reaching almost to Lake Ilmen, led to the emergence of the Ilmen Slavs, Krivichs, and Radimichs, the groups ancestral to the Russians. Following an Avar raid in 602 and the collapse of the Antes Union, most of these peoples survived as separate tribes until the beginning of the second millennium.
The Kyiv culture or Kiev culture is an archaeological culture dating from about the 3rd to 5th centuries, named after Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. It is widely considered to be the first identifiable Slavic archaeological culture. It was contemporaneous to (and located mostly just to the north of) the Chernyakhov culture.
Settlements are found mostly along river banks, frequently either on high cliffs or right by the edge of rivers. The dwellings are overwhelmingly of the semi-subterranean type (common among earlier Celtic and Germanic and later among Slavic cultures), often square (about four by four meters), with an open hearth in a corner. Most villages consist of just a handful of dwellings. There is very little evidence of the division of labor, although in one case a village belonging to the Kiev culture was preparing thin strips of antlers to be further reworked into the well-known Gothic antler combs, in a nearby Chernyakhov culture village.
The descendants of the Kyiv culture — the Prague-Korchak, Penkovka and Kolochin cultures — established in the 5th century in Eastern Europe. There is, however, a substantial disagreement in the scientific community over the identity of the Kyiv culture's predecessors, with some historians and archaeologists tracing it directly from the Milograd culture, others, from the Chernoles culture (the Scythian farmers of Herodotus) through the Zarubintsy culture, still others through both the Przeworsk culture and the Zarubintsy culture.
Christianization of the Rus' KhaganateUkraine
The Christianization of the Rus' people is supposed to have begun in the 860s and was the first stage in the process of Christianization of the East Slavs which continued well into the 11th century. Despite its historical and cultural significance, records detailing the event are hard to come by, and it seems to have been forgotten by the time of Vladimir's Baptism of Kiev in the 980s.
The most authoritative source on the first Christianization of the Rus' is an encyclical letter of Patriarch Photius of Constantinople, datable to early 867. Referencing the Rus'-Byzantine War of 860, Photius informs the Oriental patriarchs and bishops that, after the Bulgars turned to Christ in 863, the Rus' followed suit so zealously that he found it prudent to send to their land a bishop.
Kievan Rus'Kiev, Ukraine
In 882, Kyiv was founded by the Varangian noble Oleh (Oleg), who started the long period of rule of the Rurikid princes. During this time, several Slavic tribes were native to Ukraine, including the Polans, the Drevlyans, the Severians, the Ulichs, the Tiverians, the White Croats and the Dulebes. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kyiv among the Polans quickly prospered as the center of the powerful Slavic state of Kievan Rus.
In the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was geographically the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia (the Latin name for Rus'), especially for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine", meaning "in-land" or "native-land", usually interpreted as "border-land", first appears in historical documents of the 12th century and then on history maps of the 16th century period.
This term seems to have been synonymous with the land of Rus' propria—the principalities of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Pereiaslav. The term "Greater Rus'" was used to apply to all the lands of the entire Kievan Rus, including those that were not just Slavic, but also Uralic in the north-east portions of the state. Local regional subdivisions of Rus' appeared in the Slavic heartland, including "Belarus" (White Russia), "Chorna Rus'" (Black Russia) and "Cherven' Rus'" (Red Russia) in northwestern and western Ukraine.
Kingdom of Galicia–VolhyniaUkraine
A successor state to the Kievan Rus' on part of the territory of today's Ukraine was the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. Previously, Vladimir the Great had established the cities of Halych and Ladomir as regional capitals. This state was based upon the Dulebe, Tiverian and White Croat tribes.
The state was ruled by the descendants of Yaroslav the Wise and Vladimir Monomakh. For a brief period, the state was ruled by a Hungarian nobleman. Battles with the neighbouring states of Poland and Lithuania also occurred, as well as internecine warfare with the independent Ruthenian Principality of Chernihiv to the east. At its greatest extension the territory of Galicia-Volhynia included later Wallachia/Bessarabia, thus reaching the shores of the Black Sea.
During this period (around 1200–1400), each principality was independent of the other for a period. The state of Halych-Volynia eventually became a vassal to the Mongol Empire, but efforts to gain European support for opposition to the Mongols continued. This period marked the first "King of Rus'"; previously, the rulers of Rus' were termed "Grand Dukes" or "Princes."
Mongol Invasions: Disintegration of Kievan Rus'Kiev, Ukraine
The 13th-century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus' and Kyiv was completely destroyed in 1240. On today's Ukrainian territory, the principalities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi arose, and were merged into the state of Galicia–Volhynia. Daniel of Galicia, son of Roman the Great, re-united much of south-western Rus', including Volhynia, Galicia and the ancient capital of Kyiv. He was subsequently crowned by the papal archbishop as the first king of the newly created Kingdom of Ruthenia in 1253.
Grand Duchy of LithuaniaLithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, one of the largest states in Europe at the time, became the de facto successor of the traditions of Kievan Rus'. Economically and culturally, the Rutheinian lands were much more developed than the Lithuanian ones. Rutheinian elites formed the face of the Lithuanian state also. A lot of norms of Rutheinian law, titles of positions, estates, system of administrations, etc. were learned. Rutheinian became the official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was used for business documents.
Most of Ukraine bordered parts of Lithuania, and some say that the name "Ukraine" comes from the local word for "border," although the name "Ukraine" was also used centuries earlier. And it is more likely that the name points towards the country's traditional production of grain. Lithuania took control of the state of Volynia in northern and northwestern Ukraine, including the region around Kyiv (Rus), and the rulers of Lithuania then adopted the title of ruler of Rus'.
Despite that, many Ukrainians (then known as Ruthenians) were in high positions of power in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, comprising local rulers, gentry, and even the Lithuanian Crown itself. During this time, Ukraine and Ukrainians saw relative prosperity and autonomy, with the Duchy functioning more like a joint Lithuanian-Ukrainian state, with freedom to practice Orthodox Christianity, speak Ukrainian (especially demonstrated by the significantly low linguistic overlap between the Ukrainian and Lithuanian languages), and continue to engage in Ukrainian culture practices, remaining unabated. In addition, the official language of the state was Ruthenian language, or Old Ukrainian.
Kyiv becomes part of PolandKiev, Ukraine
During the 14th century, Poland and Lithuania fought wars against the Mongol invaders, and eventually most of Ukraine passed to the rule of Poland and Lithuania. More particularly, Galicia (Eastern Europe) became part of Poland, while Polotsk Voivodeship, Volynia, Chernihiv, and Kyiv by 1360 following Battle of Blue Waters.
Eventually, Poland took control of the southwestern region. Following the union between Poland and Lithuania, Poles, Germans, Lithuanians and Jews migrated to the region, forcing Ukrainians out of positions of power they shared with Lithuanians, with more Ukrainians being forced into Central Ukraine as a result of Polish migration, polonization, and other forms of oppression against Ukraine and Ukrainians, all of which started to fully take form.
The 15th-century decline of the Golden Horde enabled the foundation of the Crimean Khanate, which occupied present-day Black Sea shores and southern steppes of Ukraine. Until the late 18th century, the Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East, exporting about 2 million slaves from Russia and Ukraine over the period 1500–1700. It remained a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire until 1774, when it was finally dissolved by the Russian Empire in 1783.
Mukha RebellionLviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
In 1490, due to increased oppression of Ukrainians at the hands of the Polish, a series of successful rebellions was led by Ukrainian hero Petro Mukha, joined by other Ukrainians, such as early Cossacks and Hutsuls, in addition to Moldavians (Romanians). Known as Mukha's Rebellion, this series of battles was supported by the Moldavian prince Stephen the Great, and it is one of the earliest known uprisings of Ukrainians against Polish oppression. These rebellions saw the capture of several cities of Pokuttya, and reached as far west as Lviv, but without capturing the latter.
After the Union of Lublin in 1569 and the formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine fell under the Polish administration, becoming part of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. The period immediately following the creation of the Commonwealth saw a huge revitalisation in colonisation efforts. Many new cities and villages were founded & links between different Ukrainian regions, such as Galicia and Volyn were greatly extended.
New schools spread the ideas of the Renaissance; Polish peasants arrived in great numbers and quickly became mixed with the local population; during this time, most Ukrainian nobles became polonised and converted to Catholicism, and while most Ruthenian-speaking peasants remained within the Eastern Orthodox Church, social tension rose. Some of the polonized mobility would heavily shape Polish culture, for eample, Stanisław Orzechowski.
Ruthenian peasants who fled efforts to force them into serfdom came to be known as Cossacks and earned a reputation for their fierce martial spirit. Some Cossacks were enlisted by the Commonwealth as soldiers to protect the southeastern borders of Commonwealth from Tatars or took part in campaigns abroad (like Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny in the battle of Khotyn 1621). Cossack units were also active in wars between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Tsardom of Russia. Despite the Cossack's military usefulness, the Commonwealth, dominated by its nobility, refused to grant them any significant autonomy, instead attempting to turn most of the Cossack population into serfs. This led to an increasing number of Cossack rebellions aimed at the Commonwealth.
The 1648 Ukrainian Cossack (Kozak) rebellion or Khmelnytsky Uprising, which started an era known as the Ruin (in Polish history as The Deluge), undermined the foundations and stability of the Commonwealth. The nascent Cossack state, the Cossack Hetmanate, usually viewed as precursor of Ukraine, found itself in a three-sided military and diplomatic rivalry with the Ottoman Turks, who controlled the Tatars to the south, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, and the Tsardom of Muscovy to the East.
Leaving the Commonwealth: Treaty of PereyaslavPereiaslav, Kyiv Oblast, Ukrai
The Zaporizhian Host, in order to leave the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, sought a treaty of protection with Russia in 1654. This agreement was known as the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Commonwealth authorities then sought compromise with the Ukrainian Cossack state by signing the Treaty of Hadiach in 1658, but—after thirteen years of incessant warfare—the agreement was later superseded by the 1667 Polish–Russian Treaty of Andrusovo, which divided Ukrainian territory between the Commonwealth and Russia. Under Russia, the Cossacks initially retained official autonomy in the Hetmanate. For a time, they also maintained a semi-independent republic in Zaporozhia, and a colony on the Russian frontier in Sloboda Ukraine.
Khmelnytsky secured the military protection of the Tsardom of Russia in exchange for allegiance to the Tsar. An oath of allegiance to the Russian monarch from the leadership of the Cossack Hetmanate was taken, shortly thereafter followed by other officials, the clergy and the inhabitants of the Hetmanate swearing allegiance. The exact nature of the relationship stipulated by the agreement between the Hetmanate and Russia is a matter of scholarly controversy. The council of Pereiaslav was followed by an exchange of official documents: the March Articles (from the Cossack Hetmanate) and the Tsar's Declaration (from Muscovy).
The Koliivshchyna was a major haidamaky rebellion that broke out in Right-bank Ukraine in June 1768, caused by money (Dutch ducats coined in Saint Petersburg) sent by Russia to Ukraine to pay for the locals fighting the Bar Confederation, the dissatisfaction of the peasants with the treatment of Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians by the Bar Confederation and the threat of serfdom and the opposition to the nobility and the Poles by the Cossacks and the peasants. The uprising was accompanied by violence against the members and supporters of the Bar Confederation, Poles, Jews and Roman Catholics and especially Uniate clergymen and culminated in the massacre of Uman. The number of victims is estimated from 100,000 to 200,000, because many communities of national minorities (such as Old Believers, Armenians, Moslems and Greeks) completely disappeared in the area of the uprising.
Kingdom of Galicia and LodomeriaLviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, also known as Austrian Galicia, was a kingdom within the Austrian Empire, later Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, established in 1772 as a crownland of the Habsburg monarchy. It encompassed regions that were acquired by the First Partition of Poland. Its status remained unchanged until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1918.
The domain was initially carved in 1772 from the south-western part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following period, several territorial changes occurred. In 1795 the Habsburg monarchy participated in the Third Partition of Poland and annexed additional Polish-held territory, that was renamed as West Galicia. That region was lost in 1809. After 1849, borders of the crownland remained stable until 1918.
The name "Galicia" is a Latinized form of Halych, one of several regional principalities of the medieval Kievan Rus'. The name "Lodomeria" is also a Latinized form of the original Slavic name of Volodymyr, that was founded in the 10th century by Vladimir the Great. The title "King of Galicia and Lodomeria" was a late medieval royal title created by Andrew II of Hungary during his conquest of the region in the 13th century. In the aftermath of the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Poland in the 14th century and remained in Poland until the 18th-century partitions.
As a result of border changes following World War II, the region of Galicia became divided between Poland and Ukraine. The nucleus of historic Galicia consists of the modern Lviv, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk regions of western Ukraine.
Most of Ukraine falls to the Russian EmpireUkraine
While right-bank Ukraine belonged to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth until late 1793, left-bank Ukraine had been incorporated into Tsardom of Russia in 1667 (under the Treaty of Andrusovo). In 1672, Podolia was occupied by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, while Kyiv and Braclav came under the control of Hetman Petro Doroshenko until 1681, when they were also captured by the Turks, but in 1699 the Treaty of Karlowitz returned those lands to the Commonwealth.
Most of Ukraine fell to the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine the Great; in 1793 right-bank Ukraine was annexed by Russia in the Second Partition of Poland.
Russia, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate the Ukrainian language and culture, even banning its use and study. The Russophile policies of Russification and Panslavism led to an exodus of a number of Ukrainian intellectuals into Western Ukraine. However, many Ukrainians accepted their fate in the Russian Empire and some were able to achieve great success there. Little Russia is a geographical and historical term used to describe the modern-day territories of Ukraine.
Third Partition of Poland: Ukraine dividedPoland
After the Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the extreme west of Ukraine fell under the control of the Austrians, with the rest becoming a part of the Russian Empire. As a result of the Russo-Turkish Wars, the Ottoman Empire's control receded from south-central Ukraine, while the rule of Hungary over the Transcarpathian region continued.
The Third Partition of Poland (1795) was the last in a series of the Partitions of Poland–Lithuania and the land of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth among Prussia, the Habsburg monarchy, and the Russian Empire which effectively ended Polish–Lithuanian national sovereignty until 1918.
The fate of the Ukrainians was different under the Austrian Empire where they found themselves in the pawn position of the Russian–Austrian power struggle for Central and Southern Europe. Unlike in Russia, most of the elite that ruled Galicia were of Austrian or Polish descent, with the Ruthenians being almost exclusively kept in peasantry. During the 19th century, Russophilia was a common occurrence among the Slavic population, but the mass exodus of Ukrainian intellectuals escaping from Russian repression in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the intervention of Austrian authorities, caused the movement to be replaced by Ukrainophilia, which would then cross over into the Russian Empire. With the start of World War I, all those supporting Russia were rounded up by Austrian forces and held in a concentration camp at Talerhof where many died.
Galicia fell to the Austrian Empire, and the rest of Ukraine to the Russian Empire.
Ukraine emerges as the concept of a nationLviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
The Ukrainian national revival in the territory what is today Western Ukraine is considered to have started around 1837, when Markiyan Shashkevych, Ivan Vahylevych and Yakiv Holovatsky published Rusalka Dnistrovaya, an almanac of Ukrainian folk songs in Buda, Hungary. During the Revolution of 1848, the Supreme Ruthenian Council was founded in Lviv, becoming the first legal Ukrainian political organization. In May 1848, Zoria Halytska started publishing as the first newspaper in Ukrainian language. In 1890, Ukrainian Radical Party, the first Ukrainian political party, was founded.
The Ukrainian National Revival took place during a historical period of time when the territory of modern Ukraine was divided between the Austrian Empire, Kingdom of Hungary and the Russian Empire after the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. The period took place soon after the Haidamaka Uprisings (also known as Koliivshchyna) rocked lands of former Cossack Hetmanate.
It was a period when the Ukrainian national resistance was almost entirely subjugated and went completely underground. All the state institutions of the Cossack Hetmanate were completely liquidated along with the Cossack movement. The European territory of the Russian Empire had successfully crossed the Dnieper and extended towards Central Europe, as well as reaching the shores of Black Sea.
Nonetheless, the period is also considered to be the beginning of modern Ukrainian literature, foremostly the works of Ivan Kotliarevsky. A number of Ukrainian historians such as Volodymyr Doroshenko and Mykhailo Hrushevsky divided the period into three stages. The first stage stretches from the end of the 18th century to the 1840s, the second stage covers the period of the 1840s-1850s, and the third stage is the second half of the 19th century.
Ukraine during World War IUkraine
Upon the outbreak of World War I, Ukraine, as was the case with, for example, Ireland and India at the time, existed as a colonized ancient nation, but not as an independent political entity or state. The territory that made up the modern country of Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire with a notable southwestern region administered by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the border between them dating to the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
The Russian advance into Galicia began in August 1914. During the offensive, the Russian army successfully pushed the Austrians right up to the Carpathian ridge effectively capturing all of the lowland territory, and fulfilling their long aspirations of annexing the territory.
Ukrainians were split into two separate and opposing armies. 3.5 million fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army. Many Ukrainians thus ended up fighting each other. Also, many Ukrainian civilians suffered as armies shot and killed them after accusing them of collaborating with opposing armies (see Ukrainian Austrian internment).
Ukraine after the Russian RevolutionUkraine
Ukraine, which included Crimea, the Kuban, and portions of Don Cossack lands with large Ukrainian populations (along with ethnic Russians, and Jews), tried to break free from Russia after the February 1917 revolution in St. Petersburg. Historian Paul Kubicek states:
Between 1917 and 1920, several entities that aspired to be independent Ukrainian states came into existence. This period, however, was extremely chaotic, characterized by revolution, international and civil war, and lack of strong central authority. Many factions competed for power in the area that is today’s Ukraine, and not all groups desired a separate Ukrainian state. Ultimately, Ukrainian independence was short-lived, as most Ukrainian lands were incorporated into the Soviet Union and the remainder, in western Ukraine, was divided among Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania.
Canadian scholar Orest Subtelny provides a context from the long span of European history:
In 1919 total chaos engulfed Ukraine. Indeed, in the modern history of Europe no country experienced such complete anarchy, bitter civil strife, and total collapse of authority as did Ukraine at this time. Six different armies - those of the Ukrainians, the Bolsheviks, the Whites, the French, the Poles and the anarchists – operated on its territory. Kyiv changed hands five times in less than a year. Cities and regions were cut off from each other by the numerous fronts. Communications with the outside world broke down almost completely. The starving cities emptied as people moved into the countryside in their search for food.
Various factions fought over Ukrainian territory after the collapse of the Russian Empire following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and after the First World War ended in 1918, resulting in the collapse of Austria-Hungary, which had ruled Ukrainian Galicia. The crumbling of the empires had a great effect on the Ukrainian nationalist movement, and in a short period of four years a number of Ukrainian governments sprang up. This period was characterized by optimism and by nation-building, as well as by chaos and civil war. Matters stabilized somewhat in 1921 with the territory of modern-day Ukraine divided between Soviet Ukraine (which would become a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922) and Poland, and with small ethnic-Ukrainian regions belonging to Czechoslovakia and to Romania.
The Soviet-Ukrainian War is the term commonly used in post-Soviet Ukraine for the events taking place between 1917–21, nowadays regarded essentially as a war between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Bolsheviks (Ukrainian Soviet Republic and RSFSR). The war ensued soon after the October Revolution when Lenin dispatched the Antonov's expeditionary group to Ukraine and Southern Russia.
Soviet historical tradition viewed it as an occupation of Ukraine by military forces of Western and Central Europe, including the Polish Republic's military – the Bolshevik victory constituting Ukraine's liberation from these forces. Conversely, modern Ukrainian historians consider it a failed war of independence by the Ukrainian People's Republic against the Bolsheviks.
Ukrainian War of IndependenceUkraine
The Ukrainian War of Independence was a series of conflicts involving many adversaries that lasted from 1917 to 1921 and resulted in the establishment and development of a Ukrainian republic, most of which was later absorbed into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of 1922–1991.
The war consisted of military conflicts between different governmental, political and military forces. Belligerents included Ukrainian nationalists, Ukrainian anarchists, Bolsheviks, the forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary, the White Russian Volunteer Army, and Second Polish Republic forces. They struggled for control of Ukraine after the February Revolution (March 1917) in the Russian Empire. The Allied forces of Romania and France also became involved. The struggle lasted from February 1917 to November 1921 and resulted in the division of Ukraine between the Bolshevik Ukrainian SSR, Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.
The conflict is frequently viewed within the framework of the Southern Front of the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922, as well as the closing stage of the Eastern Front of the First World War of 1914–1918.
The Makhnovshchina was an attempt to form a stateless anarchist society in parts of Ukraine during the Russian Revolution of 1917–1923. It existed from 1918 to 1921, during which time free soviets and libertarian communes operated under the protection of Nestor Makhno's Revolutionary Insurgent Army. The area had a population of around seven million.
The Makhnovshchina was established with the capture of Huliaipole by Makhno's forces on 27 November 1918. An insurgent staff was set up in the city, which became the territory's de facto capital. Russian forces of the White movement, under Anton Denikin, occupied part of the region and formed a temporary government of Southern Russia in March 1920, resulting in the de facto capital being briefly moved to Katerynoslav (modern-day Dnipro). In late March 1920, Denikin's forces retreated from the area, having been driven out by the Red Army in cooperation with Makhno's forces, whose units conducted guerrilla warfare behind Denikin's lines. The Makhnovshchina was disestablished on 28 August 1921, when a badly wounded Makhno and 77 of his men escaped through Romania after several high-ranking officials were executed by Bolshevik forces. Remnants of the Black Army continued to fight until late 1922.
The Polish–Ukrainian War, from November 1918 to July 1919, was a conflict between the Second Polish Republic and Ukrainian forces (both the West Ukrainian People's Republic and Ukrainian People's Republic). The conflict had its roots in ethnic, cultural and political differences between the Polish and Ukrainian populations living in the region, as Poland and both Ukrainian republics were successor states to the dissolved Russian and Austrian empires. The war started in Eastern Galicia after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and spilled over into Chełm Land and Volhynia (Wołyń) regions formerly belonging to the Russian Empire, which were both claimed by the Ukrainian State (a client state of the German Empire) and the Ukrainian People's Republic. Poland re-occupied the disputed territory on 18 July 1919.
Collectivization in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist RepublicUkraine
Collectivization in Ukraine, officially the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, was part of the policy of collectivization in the USSR and dekulakization that was pursued between 1928 and 1933 with the purpose to consolidate individual land and labour into collective farms called kolkhoz and to eliminate enemies of the working class. The idea of collective farms was seen by peasants as a revival of serfdom.
In Ukraine this policy had a dramatic effect on the Ukrainian ethnic population and its culture as 86% of the population lived in rural settings. The forceful introduction of the policy of collectivization was one of the main causes of the Holodomor. In Ukraine collectivization had specific goals and outcomes. The Soviet policies related to collectivization have to be understood in the larger context of the social "revolution from above" that took place in the Soviet Union at the time.
The formation of collective farms were based on the large village farms in collective ownership of village inhabitants. Estimated yields were expected to increase by 150%. The ultimate goal of collectivization was to resolve "grain problems" of the late 1920s.
In the early 1920s only 3% of the peasantry of the Soviet Union were collectivised. Within the first five-year plan 20% of peasant households were to be collectivised, although in Ukraine the number was set at 30%.
Ukraine in World War IIUkraine
The Second World War began in September 1939, when Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland, the Soviet Union taking most of Eastern Poland. Nazi Germany with its allies invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Some Ukrainians initially regarded the Wehrmacht soldiers as liberators from Soviet rule, while others formed a partisan movement. Some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground formed a Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought both Soviet forces and the Nazis. Others collaborated with the Germans. In Volhynia, Ukrainian fighters committed a massacre against up to 100,000 Polish civilians. Residual small groups of the UPA-partizans acted near the Polish and Soviet border as long as to the 1950s. Galicia, Volhynia, South Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Carpathian Ruthenia were added as a result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 and the Soviet victory over Germany in the Second World War, 1939–45.
After World War II, some amendments to the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR were accepted, which allowed it to act as a separate subject of international law in some cases and to a certain extent, remaining a part of the Soviet Union at the same time. In particular, these amendments allowed the Ukrainian SSR to become one of the founding members of the United Nations (UN) together with the Soviet Union and the Byelorussian SSR. This was part of a deal with the United States to ensure a degree of balance in the General Assembly, which, the USSR opined, was unbalanced in favor of the Western Bloc. In its capacity as a member of the UN, the Ukrainian SSR was an elected member of the United Nations Security Council in 1948–1949 and 1984–1985. The Crimean Oblast was transferred from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954.
Reichskommissariat UkraineRówno, Volyn Oblast, Ukraine
During World War II, Reichskommissariat Ukraine (abbreviated as RKU) was the civilian occupation regime (Reichskommissariat) of much of Nazi German-occupied Ukraine (which included adjacent areas of modern-day Belarus and pre-war Second Polish Republic). It was governed by the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories headed by Alfred Rosenberg. Between September 1941 and August 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Erich Koch as the Reichskommissar. The administration's tasks included the pacification of the region and the exploitation, for German benefit, of its resources and people. Adolf Hitler issued a Führer Decree defining the administration of the newly occupied Eastern territories on 17 July 1941.
Before the German invasion, Ukraine was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, inhabited by Ukrainians with Russian, Romanian, Polish, Jewish, Belarusian, German, Romani and Crimean Tatar minorities. It was a key subject of Nazi planning for the post-war expansion of the German state. The Nazi extermination policy in Ukraine, with the help of local Ukrainian collaborators, ended the lives of millions of civilians in The Holocaust and other Nazi mass killings: it is estimated 900,000 to 1.6 million Jews and 3 to 4 million non-Jewish Ukrainians were killed during the occupation; other sources estimate that 5.2 million Ukrainian civilians (of all ethnic groups) perished due to crimes against humanity, war-related disease, and famine amounting to more than 12% of Ukraine's population at the time.
Declaration of Independence of UkraineUkraine
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state, formalised with a referendum in December 1991. On 21 January 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians organized a human chain for Ukrainian independence between Kyiv and Lviv. Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991, when the communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of the Ukrainian SSR, de facto declaring Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union. On 1 December, voters approved a referendum formalizing independence from the Soviet Union. Over 90% of Ukrainian citizens voted for independence, with majorities in every region, including 56% in Crimea. The Soviet Union formally ceased to exist on 26 December, when the presidents of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia (the founding members of the USSR) met in Białowieża Forest to formally dissolve the Union in accordance with the Soviet Constitution. With this, Ukraine's independence was formalized de jure and recognized by the international community.
Also on 1 December 1991, Ukrainian voters in their first presidential election elected Leonid Kravchuk. During his presidency, the Ukrainian economy shrank by more than 10% per year (in 1994 by more than 20%). The presidency (1994–2005) of the 2nd President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, was surrounded by numerous corruption scandals and the lessening of media freedoms, including the Cassette Scandal. During Kuchma's presidency, the economy recovered, with GDP growth at around 10% a year in his last years in office.
Orange RevolutionKyiv, Ukraine
The Orange Revolution (Ukrainian: Помаранчева революція, romanized: Pomarancheva revoliutsiia) was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and electoral fraud. Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, was the focal point of the movement's campaign of civil resistance, with thousands of protesters demonstrating daily. Nationwide, the revolution was highlighted by a series of acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins, and general strikes organized by the opposition movement.
The protests were prompted by reports from several domestic and foreign election monitors as well as the widespread public perception that the results of the run-off vote of 21 November 2004 between leading candidates Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych were rigged by the authorities in favour of the latter. The nationwide protests succeeded when the results of the original run-off were annulled, and a revote was ordered by Ukraine's Supreme Court for 26 December 2004. Under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers, the second run-off was declared to be "free and fair". The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko, who received about 52% of the vote, compared to Yanukovych's 45%. Yushchenko was declared the official winner and with his inauguration on 23 January 2005 in Kyiv, the Orange Revolution ended. In the following years, the Orange Revolution had a negative connotation among pro-government circles in Belarus and Russia.
In the 2010 presidential election, Yanukovych became Yushchenko's successor as President of Ukraine after the Central Election Commission and international observers declared that the presidential election was conducted fairly. Yanukovych was ousted from power four years later following the February 2014 Euromaidan clashes in Kyiv's Independence Square. Unlike the bloodless Orange Revolution, these protests resulted in more than 100 deaths, occurring mostly between 18 and 20 February 2014.
EuromaidanMaidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Uk
Euromaidan, or the Maidan Uprising, was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on 21 November 2013 with large protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv. The protests were sparked by the Ukrainian government's sudden decision not to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Ukraine's parliament had overwhelmingly approved of finalizing the Agreement with the EU, while Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject it. The scope of the protests widened, with calls for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and the Azarov Government. The protesters opposed what they saw as widespread government corruption, the influence of oligarchs, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine. Transparency International named Yanukovych as the top example of corruption in the world. The violent dispersal of protesters on 30 November caused further anger. The Euromaidan led to the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.
During the uprising, Independence Square (Maidan) in Kyiv was a huge protest camp occupied by thousands of protesters and protected by makeshift barricades. It had kitchens, first aid posts and broadcasting facilities, as well as stages for speeches, lectures, debates and performances. It was guarded by 'Maidan Self-Defense' units made up of volunteers in improvised uniform and helmets, carrying shields and armed with sticks, stones and petrol bombs. Protests were also held in many other parts of Ukraine. In Kyiv, there were clashes with police on 1 December; and police assaulted the camp on 11 December. Protests increased from mid-January, in response to the government introducing draconian anti-protest laws. There were deadly clashes on Hrushevsky Street on 19–22 January. Protesters occupied government buildings in many regions of Ukraine. The uprising climaxed on 18–20 February, when fierce fighting in Kyiv between Maidan activists and police resulted in the deaths of almost 100 protesters and 13 police.
As a result, an agreement was signed on 21 February 2014 by Yanukovych and leaders of the parliamentary opposition that called for the creation of an interim unity government, constitutional reforms and early elections. Shortly after the agreement, Yanukovych and other government ministers fled the country. Parliament then removed Yanukovych from office and installed an interim government. The Revolution of Dignity was soon followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea and pro-Russian unrest in Eastern Ukraine, eventually escalating into the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Revolution of DignityMariinskyi Park, Mykhaila Hrus
The Revolution of Dignity (Ukrainian: Революція гідності, romanized: Revoliutsiia hidnosti), also known as the Maidan Revolution and the Ukrainian Revolution, took place in Ukraine in February 2014 at the end of the Euromaidan protests, when deadly clashes between protesters and the security forces in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv culminated in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War, and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government.
In November 2013, a wave of large-scale protests (known as Euromaidan) erupted in response to President Yanukovych's sudden decision not to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. In February of that year, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) had overwhelmingly approved finalizing the agreement with the EU. Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject it. These protests continued for months; their scope widened, with calls for the resignation of Yanukovych and the Azarov Government. Protesters opposed what they saw as widespread government corruption and abuse of power, the influence of oligarchs, police brutality, and violation of human rights in Ukraine. Repressive anti-protest laws fuelled further anger. A large, barricaded protest camp occupied Independence Square in central Kyiv throughout the 'Maidan Uprising'.
In January and February 2014, clashes in Kyiv between protesters and Berkut special riot police resulted in the deaths of 108 protesters and 13 police officers, and the wounding of many others. The first protesters were killed in fierce clashes with police on Hrushevsky Street on 19–22 January. Following this, protesters occupied government buildings throughout the country. The deadliest clashes were on 18–20 February, which saw the most severe violence in Ukraine since it regained independence. Thousands of protesters advanced towards parliament, led by activists with shields and helmets, and were fired on by police snipers. On 21 February, an agreement between President Yanukovych and the leaders of the parliamentary opposition was signed that called for the formation of an interim unity government, constitutional reforms and early elections. The following day, police withdrew from central Kyiv, which came under effective control of the protesters. Yanukovych fled the city. That day, the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from office by 328 to 0 (72.8% of the parliament's 450 members).
Yanukovych said that this vote was illegal and possibly coerced, and asked Russia for help. Russia considered the overthrow of Yanukovych to be an illegal coup, and did not recognize the interim government. Widespread protests, both for and against the revolution, occurred in eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych previously received strong support in the 2010 presidential election. These protests escalated into violence, resulting in pro-Russian unrest throughout Ukraine, especially in the southern and east regions in the country. As such, the early phase of the Russo-Ukrainian War soon quickly escalated into a Russian military intervention, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the creation of self-proclaimed breakaway states in Donetsk and Luhansk. This sparked the Donbas War, and culminated with Russia initiating a full-scale invasion of the country in 2022.
The interim government, led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, signed the EU association agreement and disbanded the Berkut. Petro Poroshenko became president after a victory in the 2014 presidential elections (54.7% of the votes cast in the first round). The new government restored the 2004 amendments to the Ukrainian constitution that had been controversially repealed as unconstitutional in 2010, and initiated a removal of civil servants associated with the overthrown regime. There was also a widespread decommunization of the country.
The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing war between Russia (together with pro-Russian separatist forces) and Ukraine. It was started by Russia in February 2014 following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, and initially focused on the status of Crimea and the Donbas, internationally recognised as part of Ukraine. The first eight years of the conflict included the Russian annexation of Crimea (2014) and the war in Donbas (2014–present) between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists, as well as naval incidents, cyberwarfare, and political tensions. Following a Russian military build-up on the Russia–Ukraine border from late 2021, the conflict expanded significantly when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
After the Euromaidan protests and a revolution that resulted in the removal of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, pro-Russian unrest erupted in parts of Ukraine. Russian soldiers without insignia took control of strategic positions and infrastructure in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and seized the Crimean Parliament. Russia organized a controversial referendum, whose outcome was for Crimea to join Russia. This led to the annexation of Crimea. In April 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian groups in the Donbas escalated into a war between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics.
In August 2014, unmarked Russian military vehicles crossed the border into the Donetsk republic. An undeclared war began between Ukrainian forces on one side, and separatists intermingled with Russian troops on the other, although Russia attempted to hide its involvement. The war settled into a static conflict, with repeated failed attempts at a ceasefire. In 2015, the Minsk II agreements were signed by Russia and Ukraine, but a number of disputes prevented them being fully implemented. By 2019, 7% of Ukraine was classified by the Ukrainian government as temporarily occupied territories.
In 2021 and early 2022, there was a major Russian military build-up around Ukraine's borders. NATO accused Russia of planning an invasion, which it denied. Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the enlargement of NATO as a threat to his country and demanded Ukraine be barred from ever joining the military alliance. He also expressed irredentist views, questioned Ukraine's right to exist, and falsely stated that Ukraine was established by Vladimir Lenin. On 21 February 2022, Russia officially recognised the two self-proclaimed separatist states in the Donbas, and openly sent troops into the territories. Three days later, Russia invaded Ukraine. Much of the international community has heavily condemned Russia for its actions in Ukraine, accusing it of breaking international law and grossly violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Many countries implemented economic sanctions against Russia, Russian individuals, or companies, especially after the 2022 invasion.
Annexation of Crimea by the Russian FederationCrimean Peninsula
In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. This event took place in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and is part of the wider Russo-Ukrainian War.
The events in Kyiv that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych sparked demonstrations against the new Ukrainian government. At the same time Russian president Vladimir Putin discussed Ukrainian events with security service chiefs remarking that "we must start working on returning Crimea to Russia". On 27 February, Russian troops captured strategic sites across Crimea. This led to the installation of the pro-Russian Aksyonov government in Crimea, the Crimean status referendum and the declaration of Crimea's independence on 16 March 2014. Although Russia initially claimed their military was not involved in the events, it later admitted that they were. Russia formally incorporated Crimea on 18 March 2014.
Following the annexation, Russia escalated its military presence on the peninsula and made nuclear threats to solidify the new status quo on the ground.
Ukraine and many other countries condemned the annexation and consider it to be a violation of international law and Russian agreements safeguarding the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The annexation led to the other members of the then-G8 suspending Russia from the group and introducing sanctions. The United Nations General Assembly also rejected the referendum and annexation, adopting a resolution affirming the "territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders".
The Russian government opposes the "annexation" label, with Putin defending the referendum as complying with the principle of the self-determination of peoples.
2022 Russian invasion of UkraineUkraine
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 6.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. The invasion also caused global food shortages.
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, and Russian-backed separatists seized part of the Donbas region of south-eastern Ukraine, consisting of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, sparking a regional war. In 2021, Russia began a large military build-up along its border with Ukraine, amassing up to 190,000 troops and their equipment. In a televised address shortly before the invasion, Russian president Vladimir Putin espoused irredentist views, challenged Ukraine's right to statehood, and falsely claimed Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis who persecuted the ethnic Russian minority. On 21 February 2022, Russia recognised the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, two self-proclaimed breakaway quasi-states in Donbas. The next day, the Federation Council of Russia authorised the use of military force, and Russian troops promptly advanced on both territories.
The invasion began on the morning of 24 February, when Putin announced a "special military operation" to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv. A large ground invasion followed from multiple directions. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy enacted martial law and a general mobilisation of all male Ukrainian citizens between 18 and 60, who were banned from leaving the country. Russian attacks were initially launched on a northern front from Belarus towards Kyiv, a north-eastern front towards Kharkiv, a southern front from Crimea, and a south-eastern front from Luhansk and Donetsk. During March, the Russian advance towards Kyiv stalled. Amidst heavy losses and strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian troops retreated from Kyiv Oblast by 3 April. On 19 April, Russia launched a renewed attack on Donbas, which has been proceeding very slowly, with Luhansk Oblast only fully captured by 3 July, while other fronts remained largely stationary. At the same time, Russian forces continued to bomb both military and civilian targets far from the frontline, including in Kyiv, Lviv, Serhiivka near Odesa and Kremenchuk, among others. On 20 July, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Russia would respond to the increased military aid being received by Ukraine from abroad as justifying the expansion of the 'special operations' front to include military objectives in both the Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Kherson Oblast beyond the original objectives of the oblasts of the Donbas region.
The invasion has received widespread international condemnation. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian forces. The International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. Many countries imposed sanctions on Russia, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world, and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia were met with mass arrests and increased media censorship, including a ban on the words "war" and "invasion". The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, as well as war crimes in the 2022 invasion.
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