History of Ukraine
After Scythian and Greek colonization (8-7 c. BC) Sarmatia’s tribes settled since the 3rd century BC. in Ukraine. In the 9th century at the middle-valley of the Dniper river, in a heart of east Slavic tribes area, originated the Kiev Empire (Kiev Rus). After its’ collapse in the 12th century formed several principalities (e.g. Galicia–Volhynia), which fell down under the invasion of the Golden Horde in years 1239 - 1240.
13-16 century: the territory of modern Ukraine was controlled mainly by Poland and Lithuania. In 1349 Kazimierz III, the king of Poland occupied the territories between Lviv (Lvov, Lemberg) and Brest. That was the end of the Galicia–Volhynia Principality.
In 14th century Galicia and a part of western Volhynia were annexed by Poland. Lithuania enclosed Podillya, Kiew and part of Volhynia to its’ territories.
Formed in 1450 in the South Ukraine Crimean khanate undertook a number of wasting raids to the south-west of the country in 15 th – 16th centuries, resulting destruction of villages and a huge number of slavery Ukrainians taken to Crimean khanate.
By the Union of Lublin, 1569 (agreement between Lithuania and Poland) the territory of Ukraine basically went under Polish rule. In the 17th century, the country freed itself from Polish oppression and united with Russia. Galicia stayed under Poland up until the first partition of the country in 1772. In 1772 Galicia came under the Austrian rule at the time, when the rest of the country stayed under the Russian empire.
1596 took place the Brest-Litovsk division of the orthodox Ukrainian church and its’ unification with the catholic church. The support of the resistance against the Polish magnates was Zaporozhian Cossacks. In 16 – 17 century Cossacks were fighting for the independence of Ukraine.
The emergence of the Zaporozhye Cossacks State on the island Khortytsia on the Dnieper river after the uprising of Hetman Khmelnytsky in 1648 formed an independent state called "Hetmanate". But in 1654 Khmelnytsky stood under the protection of the Russian Tsar. In subsequent Russian-Polish War (1654-1667) Poland lost Ukrainian lands on the east side of the Dnieper river.
During the Northern War (1700-1721) vainly tried the Cossacks’ Hetman Mazepa in 1709 to break away from Russia with Swedish help. After elimination of Cossacks’ autonomy in 1764 and repeal of the Hetmanate in 1775, Zaporozhian Sitch, the center of Zaporozhian Cossacks on the Dnieper river crumbled rapidly).
The Partitions of Poland (1772-1795) enabled Ukraine to get rid of Polish rule and unite with Russia. In 1772 Galicia and Bukovina came under the Austrian rule.
The Russia-powered russification policy lasted until the second half of the nineteenth century (1863-1905 ban for print books in Ukrainian). In the Western Ukraine under Austrian rule, Ukrainian language was instead as a counterweight to the Polish.
After the Russian February Revolution of 1917 emerged the Central Rada - an all-Ukrainian center that united political, community, cultural, and professional organizations. Central Rada was acting as an opposition to pro-Soviet government constituted in Kharkiv in December 1917. In January 1918 Central Rada declared the Ukrainian National Republic an independent and sovereign state.
In 1917 the Ukrainian Soviet Republic was proclaimed, which later during the Civil War 1918/1919 turned into the Ukrainian National Republic and in 1922 was finally connected to the USSR.
In March / April 1918 German and Austro-Hungarian troops occupied Ukraine (to December). National Conservatives established the Hetmanat again. After its’ fall, the short-living Entente-friendly Dyrektoria was established under Symon Petliura presidency.
In February 1919 Bolsheviks, who had proclaimed the Ukrainian SSR previously in January 1919, came to Kiev and supplanted temporarily Denikins’ troops. However, already on May 7th 1920 polish troops entered Kiev and Bolsheviks were forced out of the city.According to the Riga Treaty (1921) temporarily Soviet Galicia (West Ukrainian People Republic) had to be passed over to Poland.
In 1922 by Soviet support the Ukrainian SSR was established. Its’ politic of forced collectivization under the Stalin Regime in 1932-1933 led to a severe famine in the Eastern and Central part of Ukraine (4 to 6 million people died because of starvation). In 1934 the capital of the Ukrainian SSR Kharkov was moved to Kiev.
The Stalinist "purges" came to its’ peak in Ukraine (as everywhere else in the USSR) during 1937-1938 (elimination of many of the political, scientific and cultural elite representatives of Ukraine). 1938-1949 (with breaks) the Russian politic Khrushchev led the Ukrainian Communist Party.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Soviet Government of Western Ukraine (established in 1939) united again with the Ukraine. Since 1940 Bukovina became a part of USSR.
After the German invasion of the USSR (06/22/1941) Ukraine became one of the main battle arenas until the beginning of 1944. The country suffered from the severe damages and considerable losses of people.
Especially at the beginning of the occupation, a part of the Ukrainian population collaborated with the German occupation authorities. The reason for that was the influence of the Stalinist terror of previous years and the hope to be able to get rid of Soviet Russia authoritarian power and establish autonomy with the help of Germans.
In the gorge of Babyn Yar (Babiy Yar, Babi Yar) in September 1941 a group of SS murdered 33,000 Jews. The largest part of the Ukrainian Jews fell in this period following the holocaust victims.
During the Nazi regime (1941-1944) Galicia was annexed by the General Government. Bukovina, Bessarabia and the Dniester region were left to Romania, the German’s ally. The largest part of the land was, however, declared as "Reichskommissariat Ukraine" (RKU).
The brutal German occupation politic also provoked soon the Ukrainian resistance forth in 1942 on the base of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) which also fought against communist partisans and the Red Army as well as against polish inhabitants and then up in the 1950s led a hopeless underground war against the Soviet power). 1943-1944 the Red Army conquered Ukraine again.
In 1945 Ukraine became one of the founding members of the UNO. That same year, Czechoslovakia ceded the Carpathian Ukraine to the USSR, which affiliated this area in 1946 as "Transcarpathia" to the Ukrainian SSR. Between 1944 and 1946 by Soviet forth was simultaneously evacuated a huge part of Polish population (mainly to the former German territories) about 500,000 Ukrainians from Poland were resettled to the Western Ukraine.
In winter 1946-1947 Ukraine was affected by another famine (ten thousands of victims). As a sign of the struggle against the "civil Ukrainian nationalism" in 1946 new Stalinist "purges" took place. In frames of “sovietization” of Western Ukraine in 1947 - 1951 and the compulsory collectivization of agricultural sector, the deportation of several hundred thousand of Ukrainians to Siberia was conducted. Instead, hundred thousands of Russians were resettled to Ukraine.
In 1954 Nikita Khrushchev made a decision to give Crimea to Ukraine. Since the 1950s the phase of liberal Soviet politic and Ukrainization policy in the Ukrainian SSR changed with a politic of "purges" and Russification tendencies.
In the 1960s appeared the Ukrainian opposition movement which stood primarily for national and cultural revival, but also for the political independence of Ukraine from Soviet Regime. It was reinforced by a religious opposition in the Western Ukraine (forbidden function of the Greek Catholic Church in underground).
Attempts of Petro Shelest, the chairman of Ukrainian Communists Party (since 1964), to defend Ukrainian interests in the central office in Moscow ended up with his dismissal in 1972.
In January and February 1972, the wave of repression prevailed through the Western Ukraine. Known dissidents, including Ivan Dziuba were imprisoned.
The reactor accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station on 26.04.1986, especially the dissimulation of the disaster and the irresponsible delay towards necessary counter-measures led to criticism of the Soviet authorities in Ukraine.
In the end of 1980 intensified the independence movements in Ukraine (initiated and supported primarily by the popular movement "Rukh"). After Ukraine declared on 16.7.1990 its’ sovereignty within the Soviet Union, shortly on 24.8.1991 the Independency was proclaimed under the authority of the president Leonid Kravchuk. The Communists Party was forbidden, however in 1993 reanimated.
In December 1991, Kravchuk was elected as the president. In the same month, Ukraine united with Russia and Belarus into the "Commonwealth of Independent States" (CIS), in which they turned against Russian fooling strive (conflict about the Black Sea Fleet and the Crimea, 1997 included).
On November 21 took place the Orange revolution when after the second ballot of the presidential election Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner. For the opposition, this was a sign of the beginning of the open resistance. On November 27, 2004, 1.5 million people gathered in the center of Kiev (on Maidan), demanding re-elections. On December 26, 2004, Viktor Yushchenko won with 51.9% of votes after Supreme Court confirmed the final votes’ calculation results.
On February 25, 2010, Viktor Yanukovych was able to prevail in the election race against Yulia Tymoshenko and became the 4th president of Ukraine.
After president Yanukovych did not sign the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement in November 2013, showing his solidarity with Russian politic towards Ukraine, the student protest on the main square of Kiev Maidan raised. After the cruel diffusion of students (on November 30, 2013) in December 2013 - January 2014 large-scale protests started all over Ukraine. The biggest number of protestors was located on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv. The peak of the public discontent with Yanukovitch regime was the riots’ police fight against the peaceful protesters (as the result of shooting, 98 protestors were killed). That called even stronger reaction of the civic society, causing the downfall of the current at that time authorities and escaping of Yanukovitch and his henchman’s out of the country.
At the same time Russian aggression started escalating. On March 16 the illegitimate referendum at the Crimean peninsula took place. UN, CIS, EU and OSCE did not send their official observers to Crimean referendum. There were two questions for public consideration at the Crimean illegitimate referendum: 1) the retrieval to the constitution of 1992; 2) Crimean adjunction to the Russian Federation. A large number of fakes took place during the poll (e.g. the falsification of counting results and violations of the norms of public expression). As the result, the Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia.
On May, 25th 2014 the presidential elections took place. As a result, Petro Poroshenko was elected for the presidential post in the first round of elections. Yulia Tymoshenko, his closest opponent lost the election with only 12.81% of the votes. Those elections were against the Russian scenario – Russian president Putin insisted that Yanukovich dismissal was illegal, therefore the presidential elections in Ukraine were not legislated (but only from the point of Russia interpretation).
Shortly after Crimean crisis, in April 2014 by local separatist supported by Russia authorities, there were proclaimed the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic (the Crimean scenario of illegal referendums was conducted on 11 May 2014: separatists claimed 90% of population voted in favor of DPR’s and LPR’s independence).
As the reaction of Ukrainian authorities, the Ukrainian Army was sent to the Eastern borders of the country to protect its’ sovereignty. The regular army together with the legislated pro-Ukrainian volunteer troops started the antiterrorist actions in Donbass against local pro-Russian forces supported by Russia. This escalated the war in the East of Ukraine, resulting huge losses among Ukrainian soldiers, about half a million internally displaced people, and two hundred thousand refugees to flee mostly to Russia and other neighboring countries.