Viggy here again with my usual Monday segment Hello to, where we take a special inside look at a different country to have visited our little blog. This week we’ll be looking at a neighbor of Romania, a country by the name of Ukraine.
So I’m going to preface this as I often do with my limited knowledge of Ukraine. Curse being an American where it’s acceptable to be ignorant of other countries! Luckily we figured out the internet, so I’ll be able to visit Wikipedia for this.
Beyond its formation in the creation of the USSR, I really don’t know much about Ukraine. I know it’s pressed up against Romania and Russia, but that’s definitely some knowledge I gained from my segment two weeks ago. When it comes to history, I’ve got nothing, not even when it was officially formed as an independent country. Literally, the extent of my American education on Ukraine says former border state that’s about it. Obviously, that doesn’t do the country justice so let’s get into it.
So according to Wikipedia, Ukraine has been inhabited since around 30,000 B.C. That’s a long time, but not surprising given the history I learned of Romania. What’s more shocking is that it’s spent a surprising amount of time as a collection of fractured lands. During one of these times, it actually became one of the largest and most powerful countries in Europe. This was during the 10th and 11th century when it stretched from the Black Sea all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
Unfortunately, like all great kingdoms, this time came to pass. This happened during the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Following this invasion, much of Ukraine was seized by either Lithuania or Poland. These two foreign powers eventually combined taking much of Ukraine under one banner.
However, in the south, the Mongols also maintained power and control. This left the native Ukrainians suffering under the hands of two foreign powers. This domination continued for much of the next three hundred years until an uprising managed to free the Ukraine people and bring them under the protection of the Cossacks.
This freedom would not last forever though, as a devastating war between four foreign powers broke out over the control of the land. This war lasted for 30 years before ending with Poland and Russia splitting the Ukranian land in half. During this time the Cossacks continued to exist, but only through swearing loyalty to the Russian Tsar.
Fast forward to WWI, Ukraine fought on the side of the central powers. After fighting in the war a movement started for an independent Ukraine. This movement led to two separate independent Ukraine states who signed a treaty in 1919 to form one contiguous country.
By 1922 Ukraine had been absorbed into the USSR. The subsequent civil war, as well as WWII, devastated much of the country for the years after that time. However, after the war, the USSR poured significant resources into the rebuilding of the country. Ukraine would continue under the yoke of the USSR until 1991 when it adopted the Act of Independence.
From there, its economy entered a slump until late in the 20th century when it eventually stabilized. There was continued political unrest during this time due to corruption in office. This culminated most recently in 2014 when the current president was ousted.
There’s a lot I can go on here about. The number of different foreign powers that have occupied and fought over Ukraine is amazing. This definitely gave me a challenge in constructing a coherent narrative of the history of this place. At times it didn’t exist, at others, it existed in name only, and at points, it sported powerful and dynamic kingdoms. Out of all the places I’ve written about so far, this has proven to be the most difficult, and I’m worried I’ve done a terrible job representing its history.
So on that note I’m going to end it here. If you’re interested in learning more I’ve provided the link to the Wikipedia page at the top.
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