History of Ukraine
History of Ukraine [Історія України; Istoriia Ukrainy]. Information on the earliest history of Ukraine is derived from archeological records and from general descriptions of the early Slavs by Greek, Roman, and Arab historians. Ukrainian national historiography has traditionally divided Ukrainian history into the following periods: (1) the so-called Princely era of Kyivan Rus’ and the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia; (2) the period of the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state; (3) the period of the Cossacks and the Hetman state; (4) the national and cultural revival of the 19th century; (5) the Ukrainian nation-state of 1917–21 [see Struggle for Independence (1917–20)]; (6) the interwar occupation of Ukrainian territories by four foreign powers; (7) the consolidation of most Ukrainian ethnic territory into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic; and finally, after 1991, (8) independent Ukraine (following the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence). Because more than one political state often ruled Ukraine’s territories simultaneously and, at times, several Ukrainian governments coexisted (eg, those of the Hetman state and of Right-Bank Ukraine), dealing with Ukraine’s history presents many difficulties. Furthermore Western Ukraine experienced a historical development separate from that of central and eastern Ukraine, resulting in the evolution of the historical-political entities of Galicia, Volhynia, Bukovyna, and Transcarpathia. The only denominator unifying all of Ukraine’s lands and state formations throughout the centuries has been the Ukrainian people and its linguistic, social, cultural, and religious specificities.
The Stone Age. The oldest traces of the presence of early humans on Ukrainian territories, dating back to the Lower Paleolithic Period (ca 900,000 BC), were discovered near Korolevo on the Tysa River in Transcarpathia (Korolevo archeological site) and near Medzhybizh on the Boh River in Podilia (Medzhybizh archeological site). Archeological evidence indicates that by the Upper Paleolithic Period (ca 44,000–12,000 BC) almost all of today’s Ukraine was inhabited by clans of hunters and gatherers. The northern Ukrainian territories were the stomping grounds for woolly mammoth and thereby attracted mammoth hunters. Significant archeological finds from such locations as Mizyn archeological site include numerous stone tools, but also masterful works of sculpture, ornamented jewelry, prehistoric musical instruments, and the earliest known reconstructable architectural structures: large mammoth-bone dwellings. The southern Ukrainian plains encompassed the ranges of the bison and reindeer and drew people who hunted them (Amvrosiivka archeological site).
During the Mesolithic Period (ca 10,000–5,800 BC) the inhabitants of Ukrainian lands (many of whom migrated at that time from other parts of Europe or from the Middle East) engaged in fishing, had domesticated dogs, and used the bow and arrow. The first tribal units likely appeared at this stage of prehistory. A remarkable archeological site and the oldest known prehistoric place of worship in Ukraine, which was in use at least as early as the Mesolithic Period, is Kamiana Mohyla situated in the Azov Lowland.
During the Neolithic Period in Ukraine (ca 5,800–4,500 BC; see Map: Neolithic Cultures), migrating farming communities from the Balkans and Danube region brought to Ukrainian territories primitive agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as wattle and daub architecture, pottery, and weaving. These industries were further developed both in settlements of these newcomers, such as those of the Linear Pottery culture, and by local autochthonous population (e.g., the Boh-Dnister culture). In the later stages of the Neolithic more technologically and culturally advanced Cucuteni-Trypillia groups established their early Trypillian culture villages along the Dnister River in today’s western Ukraine.
The Copper Age. The Eneolithic Period (Copper Age; early 5th–late 4th millennium BC; see Map: Eneolithic Cultures) coincided with the apex of the development of Trypillian culture. At its height, this culture occupied vast lands between the Carpathian Mountains and the Dnipro River, where it built numerous settlements, including several immense (with an area of up to 350 ha) ‘mega-sites’—the largest known human settlements of this prehistoric epoch. The Trypillian culture represented the northeastern province of the civilizational complex of ‘Old Europe’ and was, at that time, the most advanced branch of this cultural domain. It was an agricultural society remarkable for its technological and cultural advancements, such as monumental architecture, technologically complex pottery kilns, and sophisticated art objects, most notably, ceramic sculptures and fine, thin-walled, and masterfully ornamented pottery.
The steppes along the northern coast of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov as well as the steppe and forest-steppe stretching east of the Dnipro River were populated by pastoralist tribes that subsisted on animal husbandry, hunting, and fishing, with agriculture playing only a minor role in their livelihood. These tribes developed a social system markedly different from that of the likely matrilineal Trypillian culture communities; this was a patriarchal system centred around tribal leaders. Many historians consider these tribes and the region of today’s southern and eastern Ukraine as the cradle of Indo-European peoples and cultures that were soon to play a crucial role in the historical development of Europe and parts of Asia.
The first generally recognized archeological culture of this Indo-European (or perhaps proto-Indo-European) complex was the Serednii Stih culture that appeared around 4,500 BC in the lower Dnipro Valley. Over centuries (ca 4,500 to 3,500 BC), this culture metamorphosed into a broader Serednii Stih horizon that included distinct, but related Novodanylivka culture, Deriivka culture, Lower Mykhailivka culture, and others. In spite of essential civilizational differences, these pastoralist Indo-European tribes developed fairly close relations with the Trypillians. The remarkable Usatove culture that emerged in the mid-4th millennium BC on the northwestern shores of the Black Sea is generally considered to have been a mixture of Trypillian culture and various steppe influences.
The forests of northern Ukraine, especially the Polisia region, were inhabited by less culturally developed tribes of the Dnipro-Donets culture and, further northeast, Pit-Comb Ware culture. The regions of Volhynia and northern Podilia were, over centuries, the domain of several mixed agricultural-pastoral cultures, such as the Lublin-Volhynia culture, Funnelbeaker culture, and Globular Amphora culture. The distinctive region of Transcarpathia was the home to Eneolithic communities of the Tiszapolgár culture and later Bodrogkeresztúr culture.
The Bronze Age. At the dawn of Bronze Age in the late 4th millennium BC, a powerful Indo-European Yamna culture (aka Pit-Grave culture) appeared in the Lower Dnipro region and then quickly spread to encompass vast territories of the steppes from the northwestern Black Sea region to the Ural Mountains in the east. The rise to prominence of these pastoralist tribes was brought about by various factors, including radical climate changes that took place at the end of the 4th millennium BC and led to the collapse of the agriculture-based economy of the Trypillians. Within several centuries, the highly-developed Trypillian culture ceased to exist and its technological and cultural achievements disappeared as most of them were not adopted by the Indo-European tribes that overtook Trypillian territories.
In the early Bronze Age the majority of Ukrainian lands—especially in the steppe and forest-steppe zones—were controlled by the carriers of the Yamna culture. Initially the forest-steppe and forests of northern Ukraine were the domain of the Middle-Dnipro culture, while northwestern regions of Volhynia and northern Podilia were inhabited by the tribes of the Globular Amphora culture. Over a few centuries, the Middle-Dnipro culture evolved into the nucleus of the powerful and warlike Corded Ware culture that fairly quickly extended its territories far to the west—to the Rhine River—and to the east—to the Volga (where some related tribes may have developed independently at the same time). Along with the Yamna culture, the Corded Ware culture exerted a profound impact on the dispersal of Indo-European peoples and languages in Europe and parts of Asia. Much smaller territories of today’s Ukraine were populated by the representatives of other archeological cultures: the Kemi-Oba culture (in the Crimea) and Baden culture (in Transcarpathia).
Although the first migrations of pastoralist tribes from the steppe of today’s southern Ukraine to the Balkans and Central Europe took place as early as ca 4,200 BC, it was in the early 3rd millennium BC that this process took on a more massive character. The carriers of the Yamna culture migrated in considerable numbers on wagons along the Danube River into Central Europe and beyond. At the same time, other Yamna groups from the Pontic-Caspian steppe roamed east into Asia. Somewhat later the tribes of the Corded Ware culture also moved west and east, carrying with them their pastoralist way of life, patriarchal social system, and Indo-European dialects. These migrations marked the end of the era of ‘Old Europe’ and the beginning of the Indo-European domination of Europe and parts of Asia.
This process of ‘Indo-Europeanization’ of Europe and parts of Asia, in which migrants from the territories of today’s Ukraine played a key role, took close to two millennia. During that time Ukrainian territories were inhabited by a number of distinctive archeological cultures. These include: the Catacomb culture (of the Middle Bronze Age), Babyne culture, Timber-Grave culture (Zrubna), and Sabatynivka culture (of the Late Bronze Age), and Bilozerka culture (of the Final Bronze Age). Archeological cultures in the northern territories of Ukraine, where proto-Slavic tribes were being formed, included the Marianivka culture, Bilohrudivka culture, Strzyżów culture, Komariv culture, and Trzciniec culture; most of these cultures were subgroups of the Corded Ware culture. In the Carpathian Mountains region and Transcarpathia resided the carriers of the Baden culture, Stanove culture, Noua culture, and others. The western regions of Ukraine during the Bronze Age saw the eastern expansion of Urnfields cultures, such as the Lusatian culture and Wysocko culture, as well as late Hallstatt culture, represented in Ukraine by the Gáva-Holihrady complex. In the final stage of Bronze Age on Ukrainian territories another radical climate change caused a considerable increase in steppe aridity and prompted another westward migration of the local population. At the same time, newcomers from the east ushered with them a new era of the Iron Age.
The Iron Age. During the Iron Age, significant changes occurred in the material culture of Ukraine’s inhabitants, particularly in agriculture, metallurgy, and commerce. In the early 1st millennium BC Iranian peoples—Cimmerians—appeared in the basin of the Dnipro River and Boh River in southern Ukraine. Archeological evidence shows that they, like the tribes of the indigenous Timber-Grave culture, Bilohrudivka culture, Bondarykha culture, and Chornyi Lis culture, had iron implements. In the 8th century BC, the Cimmerians were displaced by the Scythians, tribes of nomadic horsemen from Central Asia that intermingled with and assimilated the indigenous peoples and founded an empire that lasted until the 2nd century BC, and even longer in the northern Crimea. The Scythians’ political and economic hegemony in the region was established after they repulsed the invasion of King Darius of Persia in 513 BC.
From the 7th century BC, Greek city-states founded trading colonies on the northern Pontic littoral. With time these towns became independent poleis (see Ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast), which interacted and traded with the other peoples of the region, particularly the Scythians, Taurians, Maeotians, Sindians, and Getae. In the late 5th century BC, the Hellenic towns on the Kerch Peninsula of the Crimea and Taman Peninsula united to form the Bosporan Kingdom. In the 1st century BC the Hellenic states were annexed by the Romans and remained under Roman rule until the invasions of new nomadic peoples: the Sarmatians, Alans, and Roxolani, Iranian-speaking tribes from Central Asia that had appeared in the Pontic steppes in the 4th century BC and had conquered most of the Scythians’ territories by the 2nd century BC. Subsequently the Germanic tribes of the Goths arrived on Ukrainian territories in the late 2nd century AD from the Baltic region and conquered the Sarmatians and other indigenous peoples. In the 3rd century the Goths waged war against the Romans and took most of their colonies on the Pontic littoral. Gothic rule collapsed in 375 under the onslaught of the Huns; most of the Goths fled west beyond the Danube River, and only a small number of them remained in the Crimea.
The Hunnic invasion of Europe initiated what is known as the great migration of peoples from the East. After the Huns, the Ukrainian steppes were invaded by the Volga Bulgars in the 5th century, the Avars in the 6th, the Khazars in the 7th, the Magyars in the 9th, the Pechenegs and Torks in the 10th and 11th, the Cumans in the 11th and 12th, and the Mongols in the 13th century.
By the 2nd century BC, Ukraine’s forest-steppe regions, Polisia, and part of the steppe were inhabited by the agricultural proto-Slavic tribes of the Zarubyntsi culture; western Ukraine was populated by the tribes of the Przeworsk culture. By the 2nd century AD, the tribes of the Cherniakhiv culture populated large parts of the Ukrainian forest-steppe. Most scholars consider the territory bounded by the middle Dnipro River, the Prypiat River, the Carpathian Mountains, and the Vistula River to be the cradle of the ancient Slavs. By the 4th century AD, the eastern Slavs of Ukraine had organized themselves into a tribal alliance called the Antes, whose domain stretched through the forest-steppe and steppe zones from the Dnister River to the Don River. In the early 6th century the Antes established relations with the Byzantine Empire, against which they also waged war in the Balkans. Their state lasted until the 6th century, when it was destroyed by the Avars and most of the Antes fled north to resettle in the upper Dnipro Basin. During these centuries, the forest and forest-steppe zones in western, northwestern, and northern Ukraine were populated by the tribal confederation called the Sklavenes in the Greek sources. Like the Antes, the Sklavenes also established a strong tribal alliance, which too was destroyed by the Avars in the 6th century. Although very significant numbers of Antes and Sklavenes migrated as a result of the Avar onslaught, major sections of these Slavic populations remained on Ukrainian territories, where they played key roles in the ethnogenesis of the Ukrainians.
By the 6th century AD, the ancestors of the Ukrainians were divided into several tribal groups: the Polianians on the banks of the Dnipro River around Kyiv; the Siverianians in the Desna River, Seim River, and Sula River basins; the Derevlianians in Polisia between the Teteriv River and Prypiat River basins; the Dulibians, later called Buzhanians and Volhynians, in the Buh River basin; the White Croatians in Subcarpathia; the Ulychians in the Boh River basin; and the Tivertsians in the Dnister River basin. These tribes had ties with the proto-Belarusian Drehovichians, the proto-Russian Radimichians, Viatichians, and Krivichians, and the Baltic tribes to the north; the Bulgarian Kingdom (see Bulgaria) and the Byzantine Empire to the south; the Khazar Kaganate and the Volga Bulgars to the east; and the proto-Polish Vistulans and Mazovians, Great Moravia, and the Magyars to the west. They also traded with more distant lands via international trade routes: the route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’ linking the Baltic Sea and Black Sea mostly via the Dnipro River and thus joining Scandinavia with Byzantium (see Varangian route); the east-west route from the Caspian Sea to Kyiv and then to Cracow, Prague, and Regensburg, thus joining the Arab world with central and western Europe; and the route linking the Caspian and Baltic seas and thus the Arab world with Scandinavia. Because they lived along or at the crossroads of these important trade routes, the proto-Ukrainian tribes played an important economic and political role in eastern Europe.
The tribes shared a common proto-Slavic language and pagan beliefs. They built their agricultural settlements around wooden fortified towns. Kyiv was the capital of the Polianians; Chernihiv, of the Siverianians; Iskorosten (Korosten), of the Derevlianians; Volyn (Horodok on the Buh River), of the Dulibians; and Peresichen, of the Ulychians. The Polianians were the most developed of the tribes; according to the Rus’ Primary Chronicle, their prince, Kyi, founded Kyiv in the late 6th century. Kyiv’s strategic position at the crossroads of the trade routes contributed to its rapid development into a powerful economic, cultural, and political center. The tribal princes, however, were not able to transform their tribal alliances into viable states and thus protect their independence. In the early 8th century, the Polianians and Siverianians were forced to recognize the supremacy of the Khazar kaganate and to pay tribute. In the mid-9th century, the warlike Varangians from Scandinavia invaded and conquered the tribal territories, and established the foundations for Kyivan Rus’ state with its capital in Kyiv.
The Princely era. The leading role in the Kyivan Rus’ state until its demise some five centuries later was played by the princes (whence the name: the Princely era). The Primary Chronicle states that the Eastern Slavs had invited the Varangians to rule over them. This source was later used to substantiate the so-called Normanist theory of the origins of Kyivan Rus’. The Riurykide dynasty that ruled Rus’ and other East European territories until 1596, presumably originated with the legendary Varangian Prince Riuryk of Novgorod. The most outstanding Varangian ruler of Kyivan Rus’ was Prince Oleh (Oleg), who, reportedly, succeeded Riuryk in Novgorod ca 879. In 882 he killed Askold and Dyr and took power in Kyiv, which became the capital of his realm. He then conquered most of the East Slavic tribes, thus becoming the undisputed ruler of a vast and mighty state. After consolidating his power and eliminating the influence of the Khazars on his territory, Oleh undertook an expedition against Constantinople, forcing it to sue for peace and to pay a large indemnity in 907. In 911 he concluded an advantageous trade agreement and laid the basis for permanent trade links between Kyivan Rus’ and the Byzantine Empire.
The efforts of Prince Oleh’s successor Prince Ihor (Igor, 912–45) to gain control of the northern Black Sea littoral led to war with Byzantium and to a new treaty with Constantinople, in which the trade privileges obtained by Oleh were significantly curtailed. Throughout his reign, Ihor tried to consolidate the central power of Kyiv by pacifying the rebellious neighboring tribes. The Derevlianians, who fiercely defended their autonomy, captured and killed Ihor during one of his attempts to extort tribute from them.
Prince Ihor’s widow Princess Olha (Olga, 945–62), who was possibly a Slav, ruled Rus’ until her son Sviatoslav I Ihorovych came of age. During her reign the Slavic members of her court gained ascendancy. Olha converted to Christianity by 957. She established direct contacts with Constantinople and links with West European rulers.
Sviatoslav I Ihorovych (962–72), known as ‘the Conqueror,’ expanded the borders and might of Rus’. He waged a successful war against the Volga Bulgars and destroyed the Khazar kaganate. The elimination of the Khazars had negative consequences, however: it opened the way for the invasion of Kyivan Rus’ by new Asiatic tribes. Sviatoslav expanded the frontiers of his realm to the Caucasus Mountains and then conquered the Bulgarians (967–8), establishing Pereiaslavets on the Danube River as his stronghold in the Danube region. Threatened by his encroachments, Constantinople declared war on Sviatoslav. After initial victories in Macedonia, Sviatoslav was defeated and forced out of Bulgaria in 971. On his way back to Kyiv with a small retinue, he was ambushed by Pecheneg mercenaries of the Byzantines near the Dnipro Rapids and died in battle.
Yaropolk I Sviatoslavych (972–80) ruled over Kyiv after his father’s death. He wanted to unite the entire kingdom under his rule and succeeded in killing Oleh Sviatoslavych, but his brother Volodymyr escaped and hired Varangian mercenaries, with whose help he killed Yaropolk.
Volodymyr the Great (980–1015) thus united under his rule the lands acquired by his predecessors and proceeded to extend his territory. He waged an ongoing struggle from 988 to 997 with the Pechenegs, who were constantly attacking Rus’ towns and villages, and built a network of fortresses to protect Kyiv.
After his conquests, Volodymyr the Great ruled the largest kingdom in Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Sea of Azov and Black Sea in the south and from the Volga River in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west. To administer his scattered lands, he created a dynastic seniority system of his clan and members of his retinue (druzhyna), in which the role of the Varangians was diminished. To give his vast domain a unifying element Volodymyr adopted Byzantine Christianity as the state religion, was baptized, and married Anna, the sister of the Byzantine emperor Basil II.
The official Christianization of Ukraine in 988 had important consequences for the life of Kyivan Rus’ (see also History of the Ukrainian church). The unity of the state and the authority of the grand prince were strengthened. Byzantine art, architecture, literature, and teaching were introduced and adopted by the princes, boyars, and upper classes. Many churches and monasteries were built, and the clergy became a powerful cultural and political force.
During his reign, Volodymyr the Great began minting coins stamped with the symbol of a trident. (During the struggle for independence (1917–20) and again since 1992 the trident has served as Ukraine’s national emblem.)
Towards the end of his life, Volodymyr’s sons Sviatopolk I and Yaroslav (by then prince of Novgorod the Great) rebelled against his authority. When Volodymyr died in 1015, a bitter struggle for hegemony ensued among his sons, which lasted till 1036 when Yaroslav established control over most of the Kyivan state.
During the reign of Yaroslav the Wise (1019–54) the Kyivan state attained the height of its cultural development. Yaroslav also paid much attention to the internal organization of his state. He built fortifications to defend his steppe frontier. He promoted Christianity, established schools, and founded a library at the Saint Sophia Cathedral (in 1036 to commemorate his victory over the Pechenegs). During Yaroslav’s reign the Kyivan Cave Monastery was founded in 1051; it became the pre-eminent center of monastic, literary, and cultural life in Kyivan Rus’. Yaroslav had the customary law of Rus’ codified in the Ruskaia Pravda in order to regulate economic and social relations, which were becoming more complex. An important development that occurred during his rule was the rise of an indigenous, Slavic political elite in the Kyivan state that included such figures as Yaroslav’s adviser Dobrynia, Dobrynia’s son Konstantyn (Yaroslav’s lieutenant in Novgorod), and Vyshata Ostromyrych (the governor of Kyiv). Thenceforth the role of the Varangians was limited, even as mercenaries. In 1051 Yaroslav convoked a synod of bishops and installed, without having asked for the consent of the ecumenical patriarch, the first metropolitan of Kyiv who was not a Greek, but a local Rus’ (Ruthenian). Metropolitan Ilarion governed the Rus’ church until about 1065. Yaroslav’s influence spread far and wide because he arranged dynastic alliances with nearly all the reigning families of Europe.
Before his death in 1054, Yaroslav the Wise divided his realm among his five remaining sons. Yaroslav maintained the principle of seniority introduced by his father, according to which the eldest son inherited Kyiv and the title of grand prince, while the other sons were to respect the eldest and help him administer the entire polity of Kyivan Rus’. In the event of the death of the eldest son, his place was to be taken by the next eldest, and so forth. The seniority principle did not survive the test of time, however. As the sons and their offspring prospered in the lands they inherited, their interests conflicted with one another and with the interests of state unity. Internecine strife developed, provoking the eventual collapse of the Kyivan state.
The last of Yaroslav the Wise’s sons on the Kyivan throne, Vsevolod Yaroslavych (1078–93), directly ruled the principal lands of Kyivan Rus’: Kyiv principality, Chernihiv principality, Pereiaslav principality, Smolensk principality, Rostov principality, and Suzdal principality. In the last years of his reign, Vsevolod’s realm was administered by his son Volodymyr Monomakh of Pereiaslav.
Vsevolod Yaroslavych was succeeded in Kyiv by his nephew Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych (1093–1113), whose reign was distinguished by his continuous wars with the Cumans. With his cousin, Volodymyr Monomakh, Sviatopolk undertook successful expeditions against the invaders in 1103, 1109, and 1111.
The Cuman menace and ongoing wars among the princes were the subject of the 1097 Liubech congress of princes near Kyiv. Called at the initiative of Volodymyr Monomakh, the princes altered the principle of patrimony. It was decided that sons had the right to inherit and rule the lands of their fathers, thus annulling the seniority system created by Yaroslav the Wise, and that Kyivan Rus’ would be subdivided into autonomous principalities, whose rulers would, nonetheless, obey the grand prince in Kyiv.
The consensus reached at Liubech was short-lived. Conflicts among the princes once again began pitting the Rostyslavych branch (sons of Rostyslav Volodymyrovych), Monomakh branch, and Sviatoslavych branch (descendants of Sviatoslav II Iaroslavych) of the Riurykide dynasty against Davyd Ihorovych and Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych. To settle the conflicts and organize campaigns against the Cumans, the Vytychiv congress of princes (1100) and Dolobske council of princes (1103) were held.
When Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych died, the common people responded to the social and economic oppression of his regime with the Kyiv Uprising of 1113. The alarmed boyars turned to Volodymyr Monomakh to restore order and to ascend the Kyivan throne. The popular Monomakh (1113–25) began his reign by amending the Ruskaia Pravda (see Volodymyr Monomakh's Statute). He was the last of the grand princes who strove to curtail the internecine wars among the princes in order to maintain the unity and might of Kyivan Rus’. As before, Monomakh concentrated on combating the Cumans, whom he drove back to Caucasia and the Volga River early in his reign, renewing short-lived Slavic expansion into the steppe. During Monomakh’s reign, Rus’ flourished culturally. Many churches were built, the Kyivan Cave Patericon was begun, and the writing of chronicles, hagiography, and other literature thrived. Before his death Monomakh wrote his famous testament, Poucheniie ditiam (instruction for [My] Children), a work of literary value in which he instructed his sons how to be strong and just rulers.
Volodymyr Monomakh was succeeded by his eldest son Mstyslav I Volodymyrovych (1125–32), who inherited the lands of Kyiv, Smolensk, and Novgorod the Great; the remaining lands of Kyivan Rus’ were distributed among his brothers. Mstyslav’s authority stemmed from his ability to organize the princes in combating the Cumans’ renewed invasions. Like his father, he maintained ties with the rulers of Europe.
The political and social institutions of Kyivan Rus’. From the 10th to the 12th century the Kyivan state underwent significant sociopolitical changes. Volodymyr the Great was the first ruler to give Kyivan Rus’ political unity, by way of organized religion. The church provided him with the concepts of territorial and hierarchical organization; Byzantine notions of autocracy were adopted by him and his successors. The grand prince maintained power by his military strength, particularly through his druzhyna or retinue. He ruled and dispensed justice with the help of his appointed viceroys and local administrators—the tysiatskyi, sotskyi, and desiatskyi.
Members of the druzhyna had a dual role: they were the prince’s closest counselors in addition to constituting the elite nucleus of his army. Its senior members, recruited from among the ‘better people’ or those who had distinguished themselves in combat, soon acquired the status of barons called boyars. The prince consulted on important state matters with the Boyar Council. The viche (assembly) resolved all matters on behalf of the population and it became particularly important during the internecine wars of the princes for the throne of Kyiv.
The privileged elite in Kyivan Rus’ was not a closed estate (see Estates); based as it was on merit, its membership was dependent on the will of the prince. The townsfolk consisted of burghers—mostly merchants and craftsmen—and paupers. Most freemen were yeomen, called smerds. A smaller category of half-free peasants were called zakups. The lowest social strata in Kyivan Rus’ consisted of slaves.
The disintegration of the Kyivan state. During the reign of Mstyslav I Volodymyrovych’s successor and brother, Yaropolk II Volodymyrovych (1132–9), widespread dynastic rivalry for the crown of the ‘grand prince of Kyiv and all of Rus'’ arose between the Olhovych house of Chernihiv and the Monomakhovych clans. These internecine wars continued for a century, during which time the throne of Kyiv principality changed hands almost 50 times.
As a result of the wars, Kyiv’s primacy rapidly declined. In 1169 Prince Andrei Bogoliubskii of Vladimir, Rostov, and Suzdal sacked Kyiv and left it in ruins. Thereafter the title of grand prince of Kyiv became an empty one, and the autocratic rulers of Vladimir were a constant threat to the Ukrainian principalities of southern Rus’, as were the Cumans. From the mid-12th century, Kyiv principality, Polatsk principality, Turiv-Pynsk principality, Volodymyr principality, Halych principality, Chernihiv principality, and Pereiaslav principality developed as politically and economically separate units. In 1136 Novgorod the Great became a sovereign mercantile city-republic tied to the Baltic cities of the Hanseatic League and the Slavic hinterland and controlled by a boyar oligarchy.
Galicia assumed the leading role among the Ukrainian principalities during the reign of its prince Volodymyrko Volodarovych (1124–53). The reigns of his son Yaroslav Osmomysl (1153–87), who extended the territory of Halych principality to the Danube River Delta, and grandson Volodymyr Yaroslavych (1187–99) were marked by frequent struggles with the powerful Galician boyar oligarchy.
Volhynia gained prominence under the reign of the Monomakhovych dynasty beginning in the 1120s. After a half-century of individual, fragmented autonomy, the appanage Volodymyr principality and Lutsk principality and the Berestia land were reunited under the rule of Prince Roman Mstyslavych (1173–1205). In 1199 Roman was invited by the Galician boyars to become the ruler of Halych principality.
The historical fate of Transcarpathia, which until the late 10th century was ruled by the Kyivan state, was different. After the death of Volodymyr the Great, the Hungarian king, Stephen I, took advantage of the internecine struggles that arose in Kyivan Rus’ to annex Transcarpathia; except for a few short periods, it remained part of Hungary until 1918. The other western borderlands, Bukovyna and Bessarabia, were part of Kyivan Rus’ from the 10th century, and it was only after the demise of the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia that they became part of Moldavia.
The Galician-Volhynian state (1199–1340). As the ruler of the newly created Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, and particularly after he conquered the lands of Kyiv principality in 1202, Roman Mstyslavych reigned over a large and powerful state, which he defended from the Yatvingians and Cumans. When he died the boyar oligarchy took control in Galicia.
Prince Leszek of Cracow and King Andrew II of Hungary exploited the succession crisis and civil strife: Leszek occupied most of Volhynia, and Andrew placed his son Kálmán on the throne of princely Halych in 1214 as ‘King of Galicia and Lodomeria.’ In 1221 Mstyslav Mstyslavych of Novgorod the Great, to whom the boyars had appealed for help, defeated the Hungarians, occupying the Galician throne until 1228. By 1230 Danylo Romanovych and Vasylko Romanovych were able to consolidate their rule in Volhynia, and in 1238 they drove the Hungarians, to whom Mstyslav had restored Galicia in 1228, from Galicia.
Yet the threat from the east continued. The Mongols entered Kyivan Rus’ and routed the united armies of the Rus’ princes under the command of Mstyslav Mstyslavych and Danylo Romanovych at the Kalka River in 1223. A large army of Mongols led by Batu Khan invaded Rus’ again in 1237, devastated the Pereiaslav principality and Chernihiv principality in 1239, sacked Kyiv in 1240, and penetrated into Volhynia and Galicia, where it razed most of the towns, including Volodymyr (in Volhynia) and princely Halych in 1241.
Danylo Romanovych, the outstanding ruler (1238–64) of Galicia-Volhynia, after defeating the Teutonic Knights at Dorohychyn in 1238, subduing the rebellious boyars in 1241–2, and defeating Rostyslav Mykhailovych of Chernihiv and his Polish-Hungarian allies at Jarosław in 1245, prepared to overthrow the Mongol yoke. His attemps at forming a military coalition with the Papacy, Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania against the Mongols did not succeed, however, and in 1255 Danylo relied on his own forces to defeat the Mongols and their vassals between the Dnister River and Boh River and in Volhynia. But the massive Mongol offensive of 1259, led by Burundai, forced him to submit to the authority of the Golden Horde.
The Principality of Galicia-Volhynia declined steadily under Danylo Romanovych’s successors Lev Danylovych (1264–1301), Yurii Lvovych (1301–15), Lev Yuriiovych and Andrii Yuriiovych (corulers 1315–23), and Yurii II Boleslav (1323–40). After the death of Yurii II, rivalry among the rulers of Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, and the Mongols for possession of Volhynia and Galicia ensued. The Lithuanian duke Liubartas became the ruler of Volhynia and the Kholm region. The Polish king Casimir III the Great attacked Lviv in 1340, but it was not until 1349 that he was able to defeat the Galician boyars led by Dmytro Dedko and to occupy Galicia. Casimir’s successor, Louis I of both Hungary (1342–82) and Poland (1370–82), ruled Galicia through his vicegerents, among them Władysław Opolczyk. In 1387, Louis’s daughter Queen Jadwiga annexed Galicia and the Kholm region to Poland.
Ukraine under Lithuanian and Polish rule. While the Ukrainian principalities declined under onslaughts of the Asiatic nomads, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania rose to prominence in the Baltic region. Gediminas (1316–41) annexed the Belarusian and Ukrainian land of Chorna Rus’, the Vitsebsk land, Minsk land, Berestia land, Turiv-Pynsk principality, Volhynia, and the northern Kyiv region. In 1323 Gediminas assumed the title of ‘Lithuanian, Samogitian, and Ruthenian (Rus’) grand duke.’ To consolidate his realm, he fostered dynastic ties by marrying his daughters to Ruthenian (Belarusian and Ukrainian) princes and promoting Ruthenian culture. Algirdas (1345–77) enlarged the grand duchy by conquering the Ukrainian lands of the Chernihiv principality, Novhorod-Siverskyi principality, and, after defeating the Tatars at Syni Vody in 1363, Kyiv principality, Pereiaslav principality, and Podilia.
Thus, nine-tenths of the grand duchy became composed of autonomous Ukrainian and Belarusian territories. Until 1385 the intermarriage of Ruthenian and Lithuanian princely families strengthened the Ruthenian influence in Lithuania, which many scholars have referred to as the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state. As members of the grand duke’s privy council, high-ranking military commanders, and administrators (vicegerents), Ruthenian nobles became part of the ruling elite. Ruthenian became the official state language and Orthodoxy the prevailing religion (10 of Algirdas’s 12 sons were Orthodox). Under Algirdas’s son and successor Jogaila, the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state was threatened by the Teutonic Knights, Tatars, and Muscovy. To gain support Jogaila agreed to marry the Polish queen Jadwiga, share her throne, and unite Lithuania with Poland. After the Union of Krevo of 1385, Jogaila became King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland as well as remaining the grand duke of Lithuania. Although the grand duchy retained its independence, the Polish nobility made inroads there, resulting in a strong Lithuanian-Ruthenian backlash against Polonization and Catholicism.
Opposition to this union was led by Vytautas the Great, whose popularity and alliance with the Teutonic Knights forced Jagiełło to recognize him in 1392 as grand duke of all Lithuanian-Ruthenian lands. Under his rule (1392–1430) the grand duchy incorporated all the lands between the Dnister River and Dnipro River as far south as the Black Sea and reached the summit of its greatness. After his defeat by the Tatars in battle at the Vorskla River in 1399, however, Vytautas was forced to abandon his expansionist plans in the east and seek an accord with Jagiełło. The Lithuanian-Polish Union of Horodlo of 1413 curtailed the participation of the Orthodox (and thus the Ruthenians) in governing the state and allowed only Catholics to remain in the Lithuanian state council.
Towards the end of the 15th century a new external menace arose—the Crimean Khanate, which seceded from the Golden Horde and in 1478 became a vassal of Ottoman Turkey. As the ally of Grand Prince Ivan III of Muscovy, Lithuania’s enemy, Khan Mengli-Girei (see Girei dynasty) sacked Kyiv in 1482. From then on the Tatars regularly raided and ravaged the Ukrainian lands. Lithuania was unable to prevent these raids, nor could it stop Muscovy from annexing a large part of its Ruthenian lands, including northern Chernihiv principality and Novhorod-Siverskyi principality. With the support of Muscovy, certain Ruthenian princes, led by Mykhailo Hlynsky, who proclaimed himself grand duke, rebelled against Lithuanian Catholic rule in 1508. The rebellion was quelled, however, and the Hlynsky and other noble families fled to Muscovy. Thus ended the last attempt by the Ruthenian princes to secede from Lithuania.
Lithuania and Poland’s ongoing wars with Muscovy and the Tatar threat during the reigns of Alexander Jagiellończyk (1492–1506), Sigismund I the Old (1506–48), and Sigismund II Augustus (1548–72) created the need for close collaboration, mutual defense, and a movement for a real, and not just dynastic, union of the two states. The Lithuanian-Ruthenian lower nobility supported unification, for it would give them the privileges and freedoms enjoyed by the szlachta in the Polish parliamentary monarchy. The princes and magnates opposed it, however, for it would mean the loss of their authority (see Council of Lords). In January 1569 the Sejm in Lublin failed to reach an accord on the union, and Sigismund II annexed Podlachia, Volhynia, and the Kyiv region and Bratslav region—over one-third of the grand duchy—to Poland. After further negotiations and conflicts the Union of Lublin was signed on 1 July 1569. Thereafter Poland and Lithuania constituted a single, federated state—the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth—ruled by a jointly elected monarch; the state was to have a common Diet, foreign policy, currency, and property law. Both partners were to retain separate administrations, court systems, treasuries, armies, and laws, however. Because Poland now possessed the larger territory, it had greater representation in the Diet and thus became the dominant partner. The only Ukrainian lands left in the grand duchy were parts of the Berestia land and Pynsk region.
With the Union of Lublin, the Lithuanian-Ruthenian period—the only period of full-fledged feudalism in Ukrainian history—came to an end. Thereafter the Ukrainian lands, for the most part, constituted the Rus’ voivodeship, Belz voivodeship, Podilia voivodeship, Podlachia voivodeship, Volhynia voivodeship, Bratslav voivodeship, Kyiv voivodeship, and, from 1635, Chernihiv voivodeship within the Polish crown. There the Lithuanian Statute—the legal code of the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state—remained in effect, but Ukrainian as the official language was supplanted by Polish and Latin. Nevertheless Ukrainian princes continued to own large estates and thus maintained their former privileged positions. On the territory of Volhynia, in particular, there remained a large number of influential Ukrainian nobles—eg, the Ostrozky, Vyshnevetsky (Wiśniowecki), Koretsky, Kysil, Chartoryisky (Czartoryski), Chetvertynsky (Sviatopolk-Chetvertynsky), Zbarazky (Zbaraski), and Zaslavsky (Zasławski) families. The Polish king, however, began distributing ownership charters to the ‘empty’ lands in Right-Bank Ukraine to a small number of Polish and Polonized Ukrainian magnates; thus arose the huge latifundia—virtually autonomous domains—of the Potocki, Zamoyski, Sieniawski, Kalinowski, Tyszkiewicz (Tyshkevych), Zbaraski (Zbarazky), Koniecpolski, and Wiśniowiecki (Vyshnevetsky) families in Ukraine.
The integration of the Ukrainian lands into Poland resulted in significant national and religious transformations. Part of the relatively small Ukrainian elite, particularly the magnates, became Polonized as a result of the influence of Polish education and of the large number of in-migrating Polish nobles and Catholic clergy (especially the Jesuits). Even many prominent Ukrainian families, including that of Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky, a leading defender of Orthodoxy, converted to Roman Catholicism and readily adopted Polish language and culture.
Under the new regime, the noble-dominated cities and towns grew in size and number and experienced an economic boom. It was, however, almost exclusively the Catholic German and Polish burghers who benefited from self-government by Magdeburg law. The Orthodox Ukrainian burghers were the victims of persecution and segregation; this incited them to organize brotherhoods in order to defend and promote their national, cultural, and corporate interests.
The peasants gained nothing from the Union of Lublin. Fully subjected to the nobles and their agents, they were forced to perform increasingly more corvée labor and were restricted in their right to move from one landlord to another. Conditions in the newly colonized lands of the Dnipro River basin were somewhat better, owing to their relative underpopulation. There, in order to attract peasant settlement, the nobles introduced the sloboda—an agricultural settlement whose inhabitants were exempted temporarily from feudal obligations.
The rule of the Polish ‘nobles,’ the Polonization, economic exploitation, and religious and national-social oppression provoked organized forms of protest: the growth of Protestantism, particularly of the Socinians, among the Ukrainian nobility; the above-mentioned Orthodox burgher brotherhoods and brotherhood schools; and attempts by the déclassé Orthodox hierarchy and clergy to gain parity with their Roman Catholic counterparts, culminating in the 1596 Church Union of Berestia and the creation of the Uniate or Greek Catholic church. The church union was not accepted by the majority of the Ukrainian population, however, and many Ukrainian nobles, led by Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky, as well as the brotherhoods actively opposed it. The religious struggles that ensued found their written expression in polemical literature. (See also History of the Ukrainian church.)
The Cossacks. From the 15th century onward, thousands of men, some seeking opportunity, some escaping serfdom, settled in the Commonwealth-Tatar steppe frontier. To defend themselves from Tatar attacks, they organized armed groups and fortified settlements. With time they also began attacking the Tatar and Turkish settlements on the Black Sea. In 1552–4, Prince Dmytro Vyshnevetsky united various Cossack groups and founded a Cossack fortress on Mala Khortytsia Island south of the Dnipro Rapids. This became the first of several Cossack centers called the Zaporozhian Sich, the nucleus of the quasi-democratic Cossack domain that became known as the Zaporizhia (‘land beyond the rapids’).
The Cossacks’ expeditions against the Tatars and Turks made them famous throughout Europe. In 1577 they marched on Moldavia to help one of their own, Ivan Pidkova, become the hospodar there. In 1594, Alexander Komulovich and Erich Lassota von Steblau, the envoys of Pope Clement VIII and Emperor Rudolph II, enlisted Cossack mercenaries under Hryhorii Loboda and Severyn Nalyvaiko in the war against the Turks. These and other manifestations of Cossack military and political autonomy were a threat to the Polish regime, for they provoked Tatar and Turkish retaliation in Ukraine. As early as 1572, Sigismund II Augustus tried to circumscribe the Cossacks’ growth and freebootery by creating a register of 300 royal Cossacks, who were granted privileges, liberties, land, and money in return for military service to the crown. The institution of these so-called registered Cossacks, whose number increased (at times to 6,000) during Poland’s wars, provoked discontent among the magnates, who opposed any ennoblement of the Cossacks, as well as social divisions and discord among the Cossacks as a whole. Those not ‘registered’ were officially considered peasants and subject to feudal obligations. These and other measures precipitated rebellions led by Kryshtof Kosynsky (1591–3) and Nalyvaiko and Loboda (1594–6) (in which registered Cossacks participated) against the magnates in Ukraine. The latter rebellion in particular involved many burghers and peasants, and engulfed large parts of Right-Bank Ukraine and Belarus; it was brutally suppressed by the crown army led by Stanisław Żółkiewski, and Polish oppression in Ukraine intensified.
In the first quarter of the 17th century, Poland needed the Cossacks in its wars with Turkey (in Moldavia), Sweden (in Livonia), and Muscovy. The crown therefore restored the civil rights it had abolished after the Kosynsky rebellion and reinstated the register of Cossacks. At that time the Cossacks assumed a more political role as the defenders of outlawed Orthodoxy, which cemented their ties with the burghers and peasants; the unceasing defense of their corporate rights prepared them for their future role as the vanguard of a national revolution. Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny (1614–22), the renowned leader of Cossack sea expeditions against the Tatar towns in the Crimea (1606–17), succeeded in creating a disciplined, regular Cossack army. In 1618 his army took part in the campaign of Prince Władysław (see Władysław IV Vasa) against Moscow, and in 1621 the united Polish-Cossack army halted the Turkish advance on central Europe at the Battle of Khotyn. A protector of Orthodoxy, in 1621 Sahaidachny played a key role in persuading the Patriarch of Jerusalem to renew the church hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox church and consecrate Yov Boretsky as metropolitan of Kyiv. Sahaidachny pursued a conciliatory policy vis-à-vis the Polish Crown. The king, however, would not recognize the new Orthodox hierarchs, and soon after Khotyn any privileges the Cossacks had been granted for their wartime role were abrogated.
Although in this period the Cossacks were cognizant of their strength, they were not united in their attitude to the Polish regime. One group, consisting of the registered Cossacks, sought a compromise with the Poles. The other, the unprivileged majority, led by Olyfer Holub, ignored the Polish injunctions. They remained recalcitrant, and in 1624–5 even fought on land and sea against Turkey as the allies of the Crimean khan Mohamet-Girei III. The Polish king, seeing his relations with Turkey endangered, sent the crown army under Stanisław Koniecpolski to subdue the Zaporozhian Cossacks. Hetman Marko Zhmailo and his successor Mykhailo Doroshenko were forced to sign the Treaty of Kurukove, which limited the number of registered Cossacks to 6,000 and the Cossacks’ freedom in general. But peace did not last long. The 1630 Zaporozhian rebellion, led by Taras Fedorovych (Triasylo), forced the Poles to negotiate the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1630, which increased the register to 8,000 but failed, as before, to appease the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who continued their raids against the Turks.
In 1632 the registered Cossacks, led by Ivan Petrazhytsky-Kulaha, demanded that they, as a loyal, obedient, knightly estate (see Estates), be allowed to take part in the election of the new king after the death of Sigismund III Vasa. The Diet in Warsaw that elected Władysław IV Vasa legalized the Orthodox church and recognized its church hierarchy to mollify the Ukrainians and counter pro-Muscovite attitudes. Under Petro Mohyla, the new metropolitan of Kyiv (1633–47), the Ukrainian Orthodox church experienced a renaissance, as did Ukrainian education, scholarship, and culture in general (see Kyivan Mohyla Academy).
King Władysław IV Vasa was much more liberal toward his Ukrainian subjects than Sigismund III Vasa had been. But although the Cossacks helped him in his wars with Sweden, Muscovy (during which the Chernihiv region was captured by Poland), and Turkey, he did not recognize their demands for increased privileges. Consequently, many Cossacks continued to flee to the Zaporizhia. To stop this exodus the Polish government built a fort in Kodak in 1635, but the Cossacks, led by Hetman Ivan Sulyma, razed it. The general dissatisfaction with Polish rule resulted in a new uprising in 1637, led by Pavlo Pavliuk. The rebels were defeated in the Battle of Kumeiky 1637 and forced to accept even greater restrictions. In the spring of 1638, a rebellion again erupted, this time in Left-Bank Ukraine, under the leadership of Dmytro Hunia, Yakiv Ostrianyn, and Karpo Skydan. Having fought several battles, the rebels finally surrendered at the Starets landmark. After this event the number of registered Cossacks was limited to 6,000, their senior officers, the so-called Cossack starshyna, were appointed by the Polish nobles, the hetman was replaced by a Polish commissioner, burghers and peasants were forbidden to marry Cossacks or join their ranks, Cossacks could reside only in Chyhyryn, Korsun, or Cherkasy districts, unregistered Cossacks were outlawed, the Kodak fortress was rebuilt, and Polish garrisons were stationed throughout Ukraine. For a decade thereafter the Polish magnate kinglets kept the Cossacks in check and intensified their exploitation and oppression of Ukrainian Orthodox peasants and burghers. This ‘golden tranquility’ was broken by yet another uprising, this time on a much greater scale.
The Khmelnytsky era. The great uprising of 1648 was one of the most cataclysmic events in Ukrainian history. It is difficult to find an uprising of comparable magnitude, intensity, and impact in the history of early modern Europe.
A crucial element in the revolt was the leadership of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1648–57), whose exceptional organizational, military, and political talents to a large extent accounted for its success. The uprising engulfed all of Dnipro Ukraine. Polish nobles, officials, Uniates, and Jesuits were massacred or forced to flee. Jewish losses, estimated at over 50,000 during what became a decade-long Cossack-Polish War, were especially heavy, because the Jews, who were concentrated in Ukraine in large numbers, were seen as agents of the Polish szlachta. Great massacres were also perpetrated against the Ukrainian populace by the retreating Poles, led by the magnate Jeremi Wiśniowiecki. The Poles were crushed at the Battle of Zhovti Vody on 16 May 1648 and again in September, at the Battle of Pyliavtsi in Volhynia where the Cossacks were joined by the peasants en masse. Poland proper was now defenseless, but Khmelnytsky, after briefly occupying western Ukraine and besieging Lviv and Zamość, decided, because of oncoming winter and doubts about the chances of success of a full-scale invasion of Poland, to return to Dnipro Ukraine. Upon his triumphant entry into Kyiv, he declared that although he had begun the uprising for personal reasons he was now fighting for the sake of all Ukraine.
By April 1649, it was clear that Khmelnytsky was contemplating a separation of Ukraine from the Polish Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth armies, led by the new king, Jan II Casimir Vasa, and Prince Janusz Radziwiłł, launched a counteroffensive. Defeated once again at the Battle of Zboriv on 15 August, the Poles sued for peace and the Treaty of Zboriv was signed on 18 August 1649. The Poles, however, broke the treaty in 1651 and with the help of the Tatars, under Islam-Girei III, defeated the Cossacks at the Battle of Berestechko; and Khmelnytsky was forced to conclude the Treaty of Bila Tserkva in September 1651. The treaty allowed the Poles to return to much of Ukraine.
Realizing that he could not defeat the Poles by military means alone and hoping to expand his political base, Khmelnytsky turned to diplomacy. In September 1650 he dispatched a large Cossack force to Moldavia in the hope of installing his son, Tymish Khmelnytsky, there. The hetman envisaged the creation of a great coalition backed by the Ottomans, Tatars, and Danubian principalities and consisting of Ukraine, Transylvania, Brandenburg, Lithuania, and even Oliver Cromwell’s England. His aim was to restructure the Commonwealth into an equal union of Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine with Prince György II Rákóczi of Transylvania as its new king. Khmelnytsky’s plans suffered a great setback when the Moldavian boyars revolted and his son died in battle in 1653. Another major setback occurred during the siege of Zhvanets in Podilia in December 1653: Khmelnytsky was about to annihilate the army of Jan II Casimir Vasa when his Tatar allies signed a separate peace with the Poles. Khmelnytsky then abandoned his orientation on the Ottomans and Tatars and drew closer to Muscovy.
Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich agreed to help Bohdan Khmelnytsky ‘for the sake of the Orthodox faith,’ expecting also to regain some of the lands Muscovy had previously lost to Poland, to utilize Ukraine as a buffer zone against the Ottomans, and, in general, to expand his influence. The Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 established an alliance of Ukraine and Muscovy. The Poles responded to the new alliance by combining forces with the Tatars. A new expanded phase of conflict began. In 1654, while a combined Muscovite-Ukrainian army (see Ivan Zolotarenko) scored major successes in Belarus, the Poles and, especially, the Tatars devastated Ukraine. A year later it was Poland that experienced devastation, when the Swedes, taking advantage of the war, invaded the country. Sensing the imminent demise of the Commonwealth, György II Rákóczi of Transylvania concluded an alliance with Khmelnytsky, and in January 1657 a large Ukrainian-Transylvanian force was sent into Poland to expedite its partition.
Khmelnytsky’s foreign policy, especially his co-operation with the Swedes, who were also at war with Muscovy, raised the tsar’s ire. But Khmelnytsky also had his grievances: he was bitter over the imposition of Muscovite rule in Belarus, where the populace had expressed preference for a Cossack government; even more infuriating was the Vilnius Peace Treaty with the Poles in October 1656, which Moscow had concluded without consulting the hetman. Mutual recriminations followed, and there were signs that the hetman was reconsidering the link with Moscow. Then the Ukrainian-Transylvanian offensive in Poland collapsed. Crushed by these setbacks and already ill, Khmelnytsky died on 6 August 1657.
The Hetman state. At the time of Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s death, the Cossacks controlled the former Kyiv voivodeship, Bratslav voivodeship, and Chernihiv voivodeship, an area inhabited by about 1.5 million people. About 50 percent of the land, formerly owned by the Polish crown, became the property of the Zaporozhian Host, which, in return for taxes, allocated it to self-governing peasant villages. Cossacks and Ukrainian nobles retained approximately 33 percent of the land, and the church, 17 percent. The entire area was divided into 16 military and administrative regions corresponding to the territorially based regiments of the Cossack army (see Regimental system). Initially, the Cossack starshyna (senior officers) were elected by their units, but in time these posts often became hereditary.
At the pinnacle of the Cossack military-administrative system stood the hetman. Assisting the hetman was the General Officer Staff, which functioned as a general staff and a council of ministers. The formal name of the new political entity was the Zaporozhian Host; the Muscovites, however, referred to it as Little Russia, while the Poles continued calling it Ukraine.
Hoping to establish a dynasty, Bohdan Khmelnytsky had arranged for his 16-year-old son Yurii Khmelnytsky to succeed him. It soon became apparent, however, that the young boy was incapable of ruling, and Ivan Vyhovsky was chosen hetman (1657–9). Vyhovsky hoped to establish an independent Ukrainian principality. His elitist and pro-Polish tendencies engendered a rebellion by the rank-and-file town Cossacks and Zaporozhian Cossacks, led by Martyn Pushkar and Yakiv Barabash and covertly backed by Moscow. Vyhovsky emerged victorious from this internal struggle but militarily and politically weakened. Realizing that a confrontation with Moscow was inevitable, Vyhovsky entered into negotiations with the Poles regarding the return of Ukraine to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In September 1658 they concluded the Treaty of Hadiach. Viewing the treaty as an act of war, Moscow dispatched a large army into Ukraine. In July l658, it was crushed at the Battle of Konotop by a combined force of Poles, Ukrainians, and Tatars. But Vyhovsky’s politics continued to elicit opposition, and several Cossack leaders (Ivan Bohun, Ivan Sirko, Ivan Bezpaly) rose in revolt. Realizing that his base of support was crumbling, in September 1659 the hetman fled to Poland.
The Cossack starshyna, hoping that the appeal of his name would help to heal internal conflicts, elected Yurii Khmelnytsky hetman (1659–62). The Muscovites, who returned to Ukraine with another large army, forced the young hetman to renegotiate the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 and sign the Pereiaslav Articles of 1659. The new pact was a major step forward in Moscow’s attempts to tighten its hold on Ukraine: it increased the number of Muscovite governors and garrisons in the Hetman state, forbade the hetman from maintaining foreign contacts without the tsar’s permission, and stipulated that election of Cossack leaders should be confirmed by Moscow. Disillusioned, Khmelnytsky went over to the Poles in 1660, helped them defeat the tsar’s army at Chudniv, and signed the Treaty of Slobodyshche. The regiments of Left-Bank Ukraine, led by Yakym Somko, refused to follow Khmelnytsky, however, and remained loyal to the tsar. Unable to cope with the strife and chaos, Khmelnytsky resigned in 1663. A period of constant war and devastation began.
The Ruin. During this period, called the Ruin by contemporaries, Ukraine was divided along the Dnipro River into two spheres of influence, the Polish in Right-Bank Ukraine and the Muscovite in Left-Bank Ukraine and Kyiv. At times, the Ottoman presence was felt in the south. All Cossack hetmans during this period were dependent on these powers for support. The hetmans’ weakness stemmed largely from internal conflicts, especially the ongoing social tensions between the Cossack starshyna and the rank-and-file Cossacks and peasants, who resented the attempts of the starshyna to monopolize political power and impose labor obligations upon them. Consequently, political factionalism, opportunism, and adventurism became prevalent among the Cossack leaders, who were easily manipulated by Ukraine’s powerful neighbors.
Two typical hetmans of the period were Pavlo Teteria (1663–5) in Right-Bank Ukraine and Ivan Briukhovetsky (1663–8) in Left-Bank Ukraine. Teteria, who adhered strictly to a pro-Polish line, invaded the Left Bank together with the Poles in 1664 and urged its Cossacks to march on Moscow. When the offensive failed, Teteria and the Poles (see Stefan Czarniecki) returned to the Right Bank (see Ivan Popovych, Varenytsia Uprising); their brutality in quelling numerous anti-Polish uprisings aroused such animosity that Teteria was forced to abdicate and flee to Poland.
On the Left Bank, Briukhovetsky’s policy toward Moscow was exceedingly conciliatory (see Baturyn Articles). The first Ukrainian hetman to pay homage to the tsar (for which he received the title of boyar, estates, and the daughter of Prince Dmitrii Dolgoruky in marriage), he signed the Moscow Articles of 1665, which significantly increased Muscovy’s political, military, fiscal, and religious control. These concessions, the hetman’s high-handedness, the behavior of the Muscovite governors and tax collectors, and the Treaty of Andrusovo (1667)—an armistice that ratified the partition of Ukraine between Poland and Muscovy—infuriated the populace and led to widespread revolts against Briukhovetsky and the Muscovite garrisons. Briukhovetsky’s attempts at backing away from Moscow and heading the revolt against it failed to appease the rebels, and in 1668 he was killed by an angry mob.
An attempt to preserve Cossack Ukraine from chaos and to reassert Ukrainian self-government in the Hetman state was made by the popular colonel of Cherkasy and hetman of Right-Bank Ukraine, Petro Doroshenko (1666–76). After the Poles signed the Treaty of Andrusovo, Doroshenko turned against them and resolved to unite all of Ukraine under his rule. To gain the support of the rank-and-file Cossacks, he agreed to hold frequent meetings of the General Military Council, and to free himself from overdependence on the powerful colonels, he established mercenary Serdiuk regiments under his direct command. In fall 1667, a combined Cossack-Ottoman force compelled King Jan II Casimir Vasa to grant the hetman wide-ranging authority over the Right Bank. Doroshenko then invaded Left-Bank Ukraine and, after Ivan Briukhovetsky’s demise in 1668, was proclaimed hetman of all Ukraine. During his absence from the Right Bank, however, the Zaporozhian Cossacks proclaimed Petro Sukhovii hetman; soon after, the Poles returned and established Mykhailo Khanenko as yet another rival hetman. Returning to confront his adversaries, Doroshenko appointed Demian Mnohohrishny acting hetman (1668–72) on the Left Bank. A Muscovite army invaded the Left Bank, however, and Mnohohrishny was forced to swear allegiance to the tsar (see Hlukhiv Articles) in 1669.
Ukraine was divided again. Weakened, Petro Doroshenko was forced to rely increasingly on the Ottomans. In 1672 his forces joined the huge Turkish-Tatar army that wrested Podilia away from the Poles (see Buchach Peace Treaty of 1672), and in 1674–7 he found himself fighting on the side of the Turks against the Orthodox forces of the tsar and of the new hetman of Left-Bank Ukraine, Ivan Samoilovych. Compromised by his association with the Muslim occupation and the ravages of the civil war, the now unpopular Doroshenko surrendered to Samoilovych in 1676.
To replace Petro Doroshenko in the ongoing struggle between the Porte and Moscow for Right-Bank Ukraine during the Chyhyryn campaigns, 1677–8, the Ottomans resurrected Yurii Khmelnytsky as the ‘Prince of Ukraine’ (1677–8, 1685). The 1681 Peace Treaty of Bakhchysarai left much of southern Right-Bank Ukraine a deserted neutral zone between the two empires. No longer in need of Khmelnytsky, the Ottomans had him executed, and pashas governed the Right Bank from Kamianets-Podilskyi.
From 1669 Left-Bank Ukraine remained under Muscovite control (see Little Russian Office) and was spared the recurrent Ottoman, Tatar, Polish, and Muscovite invasions that devastated the once flourishing Right-Bank Ukraine. Although Demian Mnohohrishny, like Ivan Briukhovetsky, was elected hetman there with Muscovite acquiescence, he did not intend to be a puppet of the tsar. This was evident from his demands that Moscow limit its military presence in the cities to Kyiv, Nizhyn, Pereiaslav, and Chernihiv. With the help of mercenary regiments, he managed to establish order on the Left Bank, but his constant conflicts with the increasingly entrenched Cossack starshyna brought about his downfall.
Demian Mnohohrishny’s successor Ivan Samoilovych (1672–87) made loyalty to Moscow and cordial relations with the starshyna the cornerstones of his policy. He thus managed to remain hetman for an unprecedented 15 years. To win over the starshyna, he awarded the members generous land grants and created the so-called fellows of the standard (a corps of junior officers), thereby encouraging the development of a hereditary elite in Left-Bank Ukraine. Like all hetmans, Samoilovych attempted to extend his authority over all of Ukraine. He tightened his control over the unruly Zaporozhian Cossacks, and from 1674 he fought alongside the Muscovites against Petro Doroshenko and the Turks. Greatly disappointed by his and Muscovy’s failure to conquer the devastated Right-Bank Ukraine, he organized the mass evacuation of its inhabitants to the Left-Bank Ukraine and Slobidska Ukraine. The Polish-Muscovite Eternal Peace of 1686 and anti-Muslim coalition validated Poland’s claims to Right-Bank Ukraine and placed the Zaporizhia lands under the direct authority of the tsar instead of the hetman. Consequently, Samoilovych was not overly co-operative when Muscovy launched a huge invasion of the Crimea in 1687. Blamed by the Muscovite commander Vasilii Golitsyn and the Cossack starshyna for the failure of the campaign, Samoilovych was deposed and exiled to Siberia.
After Poland recovered Right-Bank Ukraine from Turkey in 1699 and the Zaporozhian Cossacks asserted their autonomy, only about a third of the territory of the Hetman state, or Hetmanate, that Bohdan Khmelnytsky established remained under the authority of the hetmans. Situated now mostly in Left-Bank Ukraine, the Hetmanate consisted of only 10 regiments. While the structure of Cossack self-government underwent only minor changes, major shifts occurred in the socioeconomic structure of the Left Bank. By the late 17th century, the Cossack starshyna had virtually excluded rank-and-file Cossacks from decision-making and higher offices, and the latter’s political decline was closely related to their mounting economic problems. Individual Cossacks took part in the almost endless wars of the 17th and early 18th centuries at their own expense. Consequently many of them were financially ruined, and this caused a decline in the number of battle-ready Cossacks and in the size of the Cossack army. In 1700 the Hetmanate’s army numbered only about 20,000 men. Moreover, the equipment, military principles, and tactics on which the Cossacks relied had become increasingly outdated. Confronted by internal weaknesses, leading a depleted military force, and disillusioned by the behavior of the Poles and Ottomans during the Ruin, most Cossack leaders no longer questioned the need to maintain links with Moscow. But they were still committed to preserving what was left of the rights guaranteed to them by the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654.
The Ivan Mazepa era. A decisive phase in the relationship of the Hetman state to Moscow occurred during the hetmancy of Ivan Samoilovych’s successor Ivan Mazepa (1687–1708/9), one of the most outstanding and controversial of all Ukrainian political leaders. For most of his years in office Mazepa pursued the traditional, pro-Muscovite policies of the Left-Bank Ukraine hetmans. He continued to strengthen the Cossack starshyna, issuing them over 1,000 land grants (see Kolomak Articles), but he also placed certain limits on their exploitation of the lower classes. The largess of the tsars made him one of the wealthiest landowners in Europe. Mazepa used much of his wealth to build, expand, and support many churches and religious, educational, and cultural institutions. His pro-starshyna policies, however, engendered discontent among the masses and the anti-elitist Zaporozhian Cossacks and resulted in a dangerous but unsuccessful Tatar-supported Zaporozhian uprising led by Petro Petryk in 1692–6.
A cardinal principle of Ivan Mazepa’s policy was the maintenance of good relations with Moscow. He developed close relations with Tsar Peter I, energetically helping him in his 1695–6 Azov campaigns against the Tatars and Turks. He was also his adviser in Polish affairs. These close contacts helped him gain Muscovite backing for the occupation of Right-Bank Ukraine in 1704 during the great anti-Polish Cossack revolt led by Semen Palii. Once again Ukraine was united under the rule of one hetman. But as the Northern War (1700–21), in which Charles XII of Sweden and Peter I were the main opponents, progressed, dissatisfaction with Muscovite rule spread in the Hetmanate. The Cossack regiments suffered huge losses during difficult campaigns in the Baltic Sea region, Poland, and Saxony; the civilian populace had to support Muscovite troops and work on fortifications; and Peter’s reforms threatened to eliminate Ukrainian autonomy and integrate the Cossacks into the Muscovite army. Pressured by the disgruntled starshyna, Mazepa began having doubts about Moscow’s overlordship. In 1705 Stanislaus I Leszczyński, Charles’s Polish ally, secretly proposed to him to bring Ukraine into the Polish-Lithuanian federation. In October 1708, after the tsar informed Mazepa that he could not count on Moscow’s aid should the Swedes and Poles invade Ukraine, Mazepa decided to join the advancing Swedes. In July 1709, Charles and Mazepa were defeated in the decisive Battle of Poltava and fled to Ottoman Moldavia, where the aged and dejected hetman died.
About 50 leading members of the Cossack starshyna, almost 500 Cossacks from the Hetman state, and over 4,000 Zaporozhian Cossacks followed Ivan Mazepa to Bendery. These ‘Mazepists’ were the first Ukrainian émigrés (see Emigration). In the spring of 1710 they elected Pylyp Orlyk, Mazepa’s general chancellor, as their hetman-in-exile. Anxious to attract potential support, Orlyk drafted the Constitution of Bendery. With Charles XII’s backing, he concluded anti-Muscovite alliances with the Tatars and the Ottoman Porte and in January 1711 launched a combined Zaporozhian-Tatar offensive in Ukraine. After initial successes, the campaign failed.
The decline of Ukrainian autonomy
Left-Bank Ukraine. After the failure of Ivan Mazepa’s plans, the absorption of the Hetman state into the Muscovite tsardom—and later, after Tsar Peter I formally adopted for his state the name Russia (Rossiia) and proclaimed it an empire (1721), into the Russian Empire—began in earnest. It was, however, a long, drawn-out process, which varied in tempo, because some Russian rulers were more dedicated centralizers than others, and during certain times it was dangerous to antagonize the Ukrainians (particularly in the course of war with the Ottomans). To weaken Ukrainian resistance, the imperial government used a variety of divide-and-conquer techniques: it encouraged conflicts between the hetmans and the Cossack starshyna, cowed the latter into submission by threatening to support the peasantry, and used complaints by commoners against the Ukrainian government as an excuse to introduce Russian administrative measures.
With the acquiescence of the tsar, Ivan Skoropadsky was chosen hetman (1708–22). Several Muscovite innovations followed his election. In violation of tradition, no new treaty was negotiated, and the tsar confirmed Ukrainian rights only in general terms (see Reshetylivka Articles of 1709). Peter I appointed a Muscovite resident, accompanied by two Muscovite regiments, to the hetman’s court with supervisory rights over the hetman and his government. The hetman’s residence was moved from Baturyn to Hlukhiv, closer to the Muscovite border. Peter began the practice of personally appointing colonels, bypassing the hetman, while the resident received the right to confirm other officers. Many of the new colonels were Muscovites or other foreigners, and for the first time Muscovites, particularly Aleksandr Menshikov, acquired large landholdings in Ukraine (many of them expropriated from the Mazepists). Even publishing was controlled by Peter’s decree of 1720, which forbade publication of all books in Ukraine with the exception of liturgical texts, which, however, were to be published only in the Muscovite redaction of Church Slavonic.
In 1719 Ukrainians were forbidden to export their grain and other products directly westward. Instead, they had to ship through Muscovite-controlled Riga and Arkhangelsk, where the prices were dictated by the Muscovite government. Muscovite merchants, meanwhile, received preferential treatment in exporting their goods to the Hetmanate. Tens of thousands of Cossacks were sent north to build the Ladoga canal and the new capital of Saint Petersburg, where many of them died from overwork, malnutrition, and unsanitary conditions. As a final blow to the autonomy of the hetman, Peter I instituted the Little Russian Collegium on 29 April 1722. Established supposedly to look after the tsar’s interest by controlling finances and to hear appeals against any wrongdoings of the Cossack starshyna, it seriously undermined the position of the hetman. Ivan Skoropadsky protested vehemently but to no avail. Soon after its establishment he died.
While Pavlo Polubotok was acting hetman (1722–4), a struggle for power developed between him and Gen Stepan Veliaminov, the head of the Little Russian Collegium. Refusing to give ground to the Collegium, Polubotok improved several aspects of the hetman government, especially the judiciary, so as to deprive Muscovites of an excuse for interference. To reduce peasant grievances, he pressured the starshyna to be less blatant in exploiting the peasantry. Polubotok’s and the starshyna’s repeated entreaties to restore their privileges, abolish the Collegium, and appoint a hetman (see Kolomak Petitions) angered Peter I and he responded by increasing the authority of the Collegium. Soon afterward, Polubotok and his colleagues were ordered to Saint Petersburg and imprisoned there. Polubotok died in prison. His colleagues were pardoned after Peter’s death in 1725.
With Pavlo Polubotok incarcerated, the Little Russian Collegium had free rein in the Hetmanate. In 1722 it introduced direct taxation of the Ukrainians. But, when Stepan Veliaminov demanded that Muscovites in Ukraine, and especially the influential Aleksandr Menshikov, also pay taxes, he lost support in Saint Petersburg. Moreover, the possibility of a new war with the Ottoman Empire raised the need to appease the Ukrainians. Therefore, in 1727, Emperor Peter II, influenced by Menshikov, abolished the Collegium and sanctioned the election of a new hetman, Danylo Apostol (1727–34).
The new hetman’s diplomatic, military, and political prerogatives were limited. Aware that any attempt to restore the hetman’s political rights was doomed, Danylo Apostol concentrated on improving social and economic conditions. He regained, however, the right to appoint the General Officer Staff and colonels, greatly reduced the number of Muscovites and other foreigners in his administration, brought Kyiv, long under the authority of Muscovite governors, under his sway, and had the number of Muscovite regiments in Ukraine limited to six. Thus, he slowed the process of the Hetmanate’s absorption into the Russian Empire.
After Danylo Apostol’s death, the new empress, Anna Ivanovna (1730–40), forbade the election of a new hetman and established a new board, the Governing Council of the Hetman Office (1734–50), to rule the Ukrainians. Its first president, Prince Aleksei Shakhovskoi, received secret instructions to spread rumors blaming the hetmans for taxes and mismanagement and to persuade Ukrainians that the abolition of the Hetman state would be in their interest. Russian political practices, such as that of obligatory denunciation (slovo i delo), were introduced in Ukraine in this period. Because of the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–9, during which Ukraine served as a base, the Cossacks and peasants suffered tremendous physical and economic losses. During the council’s existence the Code of Laws of 1743, which had been begun under Danylo Apostol, was completed but never implemented.
During the reign of Empress Elizabeth I (1741–62), her consort and (from 1742) husband Oleksii Rozumovsky, by birth a simple Cossack who rose to the title of count, influenced her to abolish the Governing Council of the Hetman Office and restore the hetmancy with his younger brother Count Kyrylo Rozumovsky as hetman (1750–64) (see also Hlukhiv Council of 1750). The new hetman spent most of his time in Saint Petersburg, where he was president of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and deeply involved in court politics and governmental affairs. During his absences from Ukraine, the land was governed by the Cossack starshyna, thus hastening their transformation, begun in the late 17th century, into a typical hereditary, landowning nobility. The starshyna persuaded Rozumovsky to issue an edict in 1760 limiting the free movement of the peasantry. A major setback, however, was the Russian abolition in 1754 of Ukrainian import and export duties, a major source of income in the Hetmanate’s budget. After helping Catherine II (1762–96) come to power, Rozumovsky returned to the Hetmanate. In October 1763 he and the starshyna met in council at Hlukhiv and petitioned the empress to renew the Hetmanate’s lost prerogatives and to approve the creation of a noble diet modeled on the Polish Sejm. Rozumovsky also requested hereditary rights to the hetmancy for his family. Catherine, however, in line with her general policy of uniformity and centralization, and following Grigorii Teplov’s advice, decided to abolish the legal separation of Ukraine and Russia altogether, and in 1764 she compelled Rozumovsky to resign as hetman.
The liquidation of the Hetmanate. Catherine II completed the policy of centralization and institutional Russification that Peter I began in Ukraine and in other autonomous lands of the Russian Empire. In 1763 she approved the creation of New Russia gubernia out of the lands of New Serbia and Slobidska Ukraine, and in 1764 she restored the Little Russian Collegium (this time with four Russians and four Ukrainians). The task of its president, Count Petr Rumiantsev, was to eliminate Ukrainian autonomy gradually and cautiously. He neutralized the Ukrainian elite by recruiting their members into Russian service and giving them rank and promotions. In order to introduce taxation and control peasant labor in Ukraine, Catherine ordered a thorough survey of the population and resources of the Hetmanate—the Rumiantsev census—to be carried out. An unexpected complication arose with the strong stand in defense of Ukrainian autonomy taken by the Ukrainian deputies, particularly Hryhorii A. Poletyka, at the Legislative Commission Assembly of 1767.
After the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74 and the Peace Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, the liquidation of Ukrainian autonomy gained new impetus. The Zaporozhian New Sich was destroyed by Russian troops in 1775; many of the dispersed Zaporozhian Cossacks fled and established the Danubian Sich, and the vast lands of Southern Ukraine were incorporated into the Russian Empire as part of New Russia gubernia and Azov gubernia and developed by their governor Grigorii Potemkin. Catherine promoted the settlement of these largely unpopulated areas by Germans, Serbs, Mennonites, Bulgarians, and others, and the establishment of several new cities on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to attract foreign trade. By 1782 all the traditional 10 Left-Bank regiments of the Hetman state were abolished and reconstituted as the new Kyiv vicegerency, Chernihiv vicegerency, and Novhorod-Siverskyi vicegerency and part of New Russia gubernia. In 1780 most of Slobidska Ukraine became part of the new Kharkiv vicegerency. The imperial bureaucracy replaced Ukrainian administrative, judicial, and fiscal institutions and social and legal norms with Russian ones. In 1783 the Cossack regiments were transformed into 10 regular cavalry regiments and the Russian system of conscription and serfdom was extended into Ukraine. The Ukrainian elite acquiesced becaused they benefited from the changes: the 1785 charter gave them the privileges of Russian nobility (though less than half of those who registered as nobles were recognized as such). The Ukrainian Orthodox church suffered a major setback under the new order: its lands and peasants were secularized, and many monasteries were closed down in 1786. The Hetman state and the Cossack social order ceased to exist.
Right-Bank Ukraine. In 1714 Poland again regained control of the devastated and depopulated Right-Bank Ukraine, and a colonizing movement was organized by the Polish magnates who owned much of the land. Peasants from northwestern Ukraine, especially Volhynia, were attracted there by 15-to-20-year exemptions from corvée and other obligations. With them came Orthodox and Uniate clergy. Cossackdom, however, was not allowed to develop. The towns that were re-established were largely inhabited by Jews, who earned their living as innkeepers, artisans, and merchants. Polish gentry were largely attendants at the magnates’ courts, and leaseholders or stewards managed their estates. At the peak of the social order were the few wealthy magnate families that owned huge latifundia. For much of the 18th century the Right Bank was a typical noble-dominated society, marked by lack of central authority, oligarchic politics, and extreme exploitation of the peasantry.
Without Cossacks, the peasantry was ineffective in resisting the nobility. Occasionally minor disturbances broke out, led by runaway peasants who congregated in forests and emerged to attack isolated noble estates. These so-called haidamakas usually enjoyed the support of the peasants; gradually, they became a serious problem for the Polish nobles, especially after the corvée exemption expired, serfdom was imposed, and religious oppression was intensified. In 1734, when Poland was involved in a conflict with Russia, the first serious haidamaka uprising broke out. Another major one occurred in 1750. The most widespread and bloodiest was the so-called Koliivshchyna rebellion of 1768, when the Poles were engaged in another war with Russia (see Confederation of Bar and Haidamaka uprisings). Thousands of Polish nobles, Jews, and Catholic clergy were massacred. Fearing that rebellion would spread into its possessions, the Russian government sent forces to quell it. Thus ended the last great uprising of the Ukrainian peasantry against the Polish nobles.
Russia’s expansion was a dominant factor in the history of Ukraine. In the late 18th century its ruler, Catherine II, concentrated on a great drive southward to the Black Sea in order to gain access to the Mediterranean and world trade. Southern Ukraine was thus colonized and urban centers began to develop. While it was liquidating the autonomy of the Hetman state and absorbing the lands of the Zaporozhian Sich, Russia also conquered the Crimean Khanate in 1774 and, after annexing it in 1783, gained control of the entire northern Black Sea coast. Russia interfered in Poland and influenced political developments there throughout the 18th century, ostensibly to protect its Orthodox population. In 1772, 1793, and 1795 the Polish Commonwealth was partitioned among Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Thus, by 1795 all of Right-Bank Ukraine had been incorporated into the Russian Empire, which now controlled about 80 percent of the Ukrainian lands. The remainder were part of the Habsburg monarchy. Transcarpathia became part of the Habsburg Empire along with Hungary in 1526; Galicia was taken in the first partition of Poland in 1772; and Bukovyna was taken from the Turks in 1774 and formally incorporated into Austria in 1787.
Social transformations. In the 17th and 18th centuries there were extensive social changes in Ukraine. In Left-Bank Ukraine, the Cossack starshyna evolved from elective officers into a hereditary nobility. By the end of the 18th century they numbered about 2,000 adult males. Constituting less than 1 percent of the population, they controlled about 50 percent of the land (see Rank estates). Meanwhile, the status of rank-and-file Cossacks declined drastically. Deprived of political prerogatives by the starshyna, they also encountered debilitating economic difficulties. Obliged to render extremely protracted, and therefore costly, military service throughout the 18th century, many of them fell into debt and lost or gave up their Cossack status and became state peasants. This downward mobility was reflected in the decline of their numbers in active military service: from 50,000 in 1650 to 30,000 in 1669 and 20,000 in 1730. Because the starshyna and Cossacks were not taxed, they often competed successfully with the burghers in local commerce and primitive, small-scale manufacturing and thereby undermined the prosperity of the relatively small urban stratum (about 4 percent of the population).
Even more drastic was the decline in the fortunes of the peasantry. After 1648 they became free peasants who lived in self-governing communities and owed relatively minor obligations for use of the land to the Zaporozhian Host. But as the starshyna accumulated more land, it constantly raised the labor obligations of the peasantry. In Ivan Mazepa’s time peasants were forced to work, on the average, two days a week for local starshyna landowners. Within a generation the obligations rose to three days and more. The final step in the enserfment of the Left-Bank Ukraine peasantry occurred in 1783, when Catherine II deprived them of the right to leave their landlords under any circumstances. With the introduction of serfdom most traces of the social upheaval and experimentation that began with Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s uprising disappeared, and Ukrainian society became much like the noble-dominated societies of its neighbors.
During the reign of Alexander I (1801–25), the Russian presence in Ukraine consisted primarily of the imperial army and bureaucracy. By the 1830s, during the reign of Nicholas I (1825–55), the process of establishing a centralized administration throughout Ukraine was completed. The abolition of Magdeburg law in 1831 and the Lithuanian Statute in 1840 put an end to non-Russian legal influences, elected officials, and municipal self-government in Ukraine. Even the name ‘Ukraine’ almost disappeared from usage: Left-Bank Ukraine was generally referred to as Little Russia, while Right-Bank Ukraine was officially called the Southwestern land. Among the Ukrainian elite, especially the descendants of the old Cossack starshyna, a ‘Little Russian mentality’—a tendency to view Ukraine as a distinct but organic part of the Russian Empire—became widespread.
Although the impact of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic invasion of 1812 was minimal in Ukraine, secret societies nonetheless arose there as part of the Decembrist movement. Its members attempted unsuccessfully to stage the first revolution (1825) in the Russian Empire. In 1830 the Polish nobles in Right-Bank Ukraine joined the anti-Russian rebellion that began in the Congress Kingdom of Poland (see Polish Insurrection of 1830–1). After suppressing it in 1831, the tsarist government instituted Russification policies on the Right Bank. Harshly implemented by Governor-general Dimitrii Bibikov, they had a major impact on both the Ukrainians and Poles. To curtail the influence of the Polish nobles in society and local government, the estates of about 3,000 nobles were confiscated, and some 340,000 were deprived of their status and deported to the east. To counter Polish influence in culture and education on the Right Bank, the Kremenets Lyceum was closed down, and the Russian Saint Vladimir University was opened in Kyiv in 1834. In 1839 the numerous Uniates in the region were forced to adopt Orthodoxy (see History of the Ukrainian church). To win over the Ukrainian peasantry and further alienate them from the Polish nobles, in 1847 Bibikov introduced Inventory Regulations limiting the obligations a peasant owed his landlord.
The vast majority of the approximately 2.4 million Western Ukrainians in the Habsburg Empire in the early 19th century lived in eastern Galicia; the remainder lived in Bukovyna and Transcarpathia. Their social structure was relatively simple, for the population in eastern Galicia consisted mostly of impoverished peasantry (95 percent) and about 2,000 priestly families. The nobles in Galicia were almost all Poles or Polonized Ukrainians, and Jews made up the overwhelming majority of the small urban population. The socioeconomic development of western Ukraine lagged behind that of Russian-ruled Ukraine. It was one of the poorest regions in all of Europe. Galicia was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire during a time of major changes, and Emperor Joseph II developed a special interest in Galicia, viewing it as a kind of laboratory for his educational, social, and economic reforms. Most notable in this respect was the transformation of the clergy into a civil service, the limitation of corvée labor, the regulation of feudal units, and the abolition of the personal dependence of peasants on the seigneur. After Joseph’s death (1790), many of his reforms, especially those pertaining to the peasants, were either subverted by the nobles or rescinded by his conservative successors.
The rise of national consciousness. In Ukraine, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the rise of national consciousness was primarily associated with the impact of Western ideas (especially those of Johann Gottfried von Herder, the French Revolution, and Romanticism) and with the birth of an intelligentsia. The institutions of higher learning established to provide the imperial governments with well-trained bureaucrats facilitated the development of the intelligentsia. Kharkiv University served as the intellectual center of Russian-ruled Ukraine until Kyiv University assumed this role in the 1830s. Initially, the Ukrainian intelligentsia under Russia consisted primarily of nobles by background. A small minority were priests’ sons, burghers, or Cossacks. The intelligentsia’s numbers were small; eg, prior to 1861 Kharkiv University and Kyiv University produced a total of only about 4,300 graduates. Later, noble representation in the intelligentsia declined and that of commoners, including peasants, rose.
Indicative of the first phase of nation-building was the interest shown by the intelligentsia in the late 18th and early 19th century in Ukrainian history, historiography, ethnography, and folklore. Given the central importance of the native language in the maintenance of national consciousness, the Ukrainian intelligentsia was anxious to raise its status. A significant event in this regard was the publication in 1798 of Ivan Kotliarevsky’s Eneïda (Aeneid) in vernacular Ukrainian. Despite their achievements in literature and scholarship, the Ukrainian intelligentsia of the early 19th century continued to view Ukraine and the Ukrainians in regionalist terms, convinced that in cultivating things Ukrainian it was also enriching the cultural heritage of Russia as a whole.
In the 1840s a new generation of Ukrainian intellectuals, now based in Kyiv, emerged. Among its leaders were the historian Mykola Kostomarov, the author Panteleimon Kulish, and, most important, the poet Taras Shevchenko, whose works have exerted an unparalleled influence on Ukrainians. In 1847 they, together with a small group of other Ukrainian intellectuals, began the political phase of nation-building by founding in Kyiv the secret Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood, which was quickly uncovered by the tsarist police. The trials and exile of its leaders marked the beginning of the long confrontation between the Ukrainian intelligentsia, which stood for national rights and social justice, and the Russian imperial authorities.
In Austrian-ruled Western Ukraine, in the early 19th century the intelligentsia was practically synonymous with the Greek Catholic clergy—the only social group that could avail itself of higher learning. Thus, of the 43 Ukrainian-language books that appeared there between 1837 and 1850, 40 were written by priests. The first signs of interest in the native language appeared in Peremyshl, where, in 1816, Rev Ivan Mohylnytsky organized a clerical society for the purpose of disseminating culture and enlightenment and preparing simple religious texts. In the 1830s the center of nation-building activity shifted to Lviv, where young, idealistic seminarians captivated by romantic national ideas came to the fore and came to be known as the Ruthenian Triad.
Imperial change and reforms. Nationhood became a major political issue in western Ukraine during the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy, which shook the Habsburg Empire and much of Europe. Confronted by uprisings in Hungary, Italy, and Vienna itself, and threatened by a Polish revolt in Galicia, the Habsburgs sought to gain popular support by abolishing serfdom and establishing parliamentary representation. These developments provided the impetus for political self-organization of Ukrainians. Rejecting the claims of the Poles to represent the entire population of Galicia, the Ukrainians established the Supreme Ruthenian Council as their representative body and clashed with the Poles at the Slavic Congress in Prague, 1848. Thus began a long period of Polish-Ukrainian political conflicts in Galicia. Demanding autonomy, the Ukrainians established the first Ukrainian-language newspaper (Zoria halytska) and the popular enlightenment and publishing society Halytsko-Ruska Matytsia, pressured the Habsburgs to establish a chair of Ukrainian philology at Lviv University, began the construction of the People's Home in Lviv, formed pro-Habsburg People's Militia, and established contacts with compatriots in Bukovyna and Transcarpathia (see, eg, Adolf Dobriansky). Thus, the revolutionary climate of 1848 allowed the western Ukrainians to express and organize themselves as a distinct nation for the first time in modern history.
Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War of 1853–6 brought to the fore the empire’s socioeconomic backwardness and impelled Alexander II to introduce major reforms. The most important of these was the abolition of serfdom in 1861. The impact of this emancipation on the Ukrainians was especially great because 42 percent of them (compared to an average of 35 percent in the Russian Empire) had been private serfs. Other reforms introduced by Alexander in the 1860s included the sale of land to state peasants; the introduction of local organs of self-government (zemstvos) to look after education, public health, postal services, and roads; expanded accessibility to higher education; and the modernization of the court system.
Socioeconomic changes. In the latter part of the 19th century, the economic situation in the Ukrainian countryside steadily worsened as heavy redemption payments, taxes, and lack of land impoverished the peasantry. Rapid population growth increased land hunger, and great numbers of peasants were forced to emigrate to the Asian regions of the Russian Empire (see Emigration, Far East, Siberia, Turkestan); by 1914 almost 2 million Ukrainians had settled permanently in these regions. Paradoxically, this stagnation did not prevent Ukraine from enlarging its role as the ‘granary of Europe.’ A small segment of the nobles, along with entrepreneurs from other classes, succeeded in transforming their estates into large, modern agribusinesses that supplied the imperial and foreign markets. In the steppe regions wheat was the main cash crop, and 90 percent of the empire’s wheat exports—and 20 percent of world production—came from Ukraine. Right-Bank Ukraine, where sugar beets were the chief cash crop, produced over 80 percent of the empire’s sugar.
With the abolition of serfdom the way was finally cleared for industrialization and economic modernization. The first railway track was laid in 1866–71 between Odesa and Balta to facilitate the movement of grain. As the railway network grew, even more Ukrainian food and raw materials were sent northward to Russia in exchange for an unprecedented quantity of finished products. As a result, Ukraine’s economy, which theretofore had been relatively distinct and self-sustaining, began to be integrated into the imperial economic system. The rapid growth of railroad transportation stimulated the demands for coal and iron. Consequently, between 1870 and 1900, and especially during the 1890s, the southeastern Ukrainian Donets Basin, with its rich coal reserves, and Kryvyi Rih Iron-ore Basin became the fastest-growing industrial regions in the Russian Empire. Developed by foreign capital, with the aid of state subsidies, by 1900 these regions produced almost 70 percent of the empire’s coal and most of its iron ore. In 1914 over 320,000 workers were employed there. During the 19th century Ukraine experienced much urban development. Between 1860 and 1897, the population of Odesa, the largest Ukrainian city, grew from 113,000 to 404,000; Kyiv grew from 55,000 to 248,000 and Kharkiv from 50,000 to 174,000. In 1897, however, still only 13 percent of Ukraine’s population lived in the 113 population centers officially designated as cities and towns. A crucial aspect of the industrial and urban change was that Ukrainians, who constituted 73 percent of the population in 1897, were little affected by them. They constituted 30 percent of the urban population, while Russians formed 34, Jews 27, and other national groups 9 percent of the urban total. Ukrainians were also a minority within the working class—39 percent of the total. They were also very weakly represented in the intelligentsia: 16 percent of lawyers, 25 percent of teachers, and less than 10 percent of the writers and artists in Ukraine. Whereas at the turn of the 19th century there had been relatively few Russians in Ukraine, by 1897 they constituted 12 percent of its inhabitants and formed the vast majority of the workers in the coal industry and metallurgical industry, as well as of employees in state administration. Because of especially rapid population growth among the Jews, by the late 19th century they accounted for 8 percent of the population (compared to 4 percent for the empire as a whole) and they played a dominant role in trade and commerce in Ukraine. The Poles, who like the Jews were concentrated in Right-Bank Ukraine, constituted about 6.5 percent of the population.
The emergence of nationalism and socialism. After the death of the archconservative Nicholas I in 1855, the nascent Ukrainian movement showed new signs of life. In Saint Petersburg and Kyiv, a new generation of Ukrainian activists, composed mostly of students, formed civic and cultural groupings called hromadas. The Saint Petersburg hromada published an important journal, Osnova (Saint Petersburg). A significant feature of the Hromada of Kyiv was that it attracted a small group of Polish and Polonized nobles from Right-Bank Ukraine who, guilt-stricken by the age-old exploitation of the Ukrainian peasantry by their class, resolved to draw closer to the masses among whom they lived. Led by Volodymyr Antonovych and others, they called themselves khlopomany (peasant lovers). Hromadas also appeared in the early 1860s in Poltava, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa, as well as Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Because of their advocacy of populism and national traditions their members came to be called Ukrainophiles.
The cultural and scholarly activities of the Ukrainophiles aroused the ire of Ukrainians of the Little Russian mentality, Russian conservatives and government officials, and they were accused of fostering Ukrainian separatism. Consequently, in July 1863 Petr Valuev, the minister of the interior, banned the publication in Ukrainian of all scholarly, religious, and educational books. Soon after, the hromadas were dissolved and some Ukrainophiles were sent into internal exile. About a decade later, the Ukrainophiles, still led by Volodymyr Antonovych, surreptitiously renewed their activities. They formed the Old Hromada of Kyiv, so named to differentiate it from the new hromadas formed by students, and in 1873 they expanded their cultural activities by gaining control of the semiofficial Southwestern Branch of the Imperial Russian Geographic Society. That same year they also convinced Countess Yelysaveta Myloradovych and other wealthy philanthropists to fund the newly formed Shevchenko Society in Lviv (later Shevchenko Scientific Society).
As ties between the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the Russian Empire and in the Austrian Empire became stronger, Galicia increasingly served as the main center of Ukrainophile activities because it was beyond the reach of tsarist restrictions. In 1876, alarmed by the growth of the Ukrainophile movement, Alexander II banned the printing and importation of Ukrainian-language publications (see Ems Ukase). Several activists, most notably Mykhailo Drahomanov, were forced into exile abroad. From Geneva, Drahomanov and other émigrés addressed the socioeconomic plight of the peasantry and advocated socialist ideas in the journal Hromada (Geneva), which was smuggled into Ukraine. With the rise of radicalism among the intelligentsia in the Russian Empire in the 1870s, the question of the relationship between revolutionaries and Ukrainophiles and the ‘Ukrainian question’ came to the fore. Many revolutionaries in Ukraine, such as Andrei Zheliabov, Dmytro Lyzohub, Valeriian Osinsky, and Mykola Kybalchych, believed that it would be better for national distinctions to disappear so that a global socialist society might emerge. Consequently, a split between the socialist and more traditional Ukrainophiles occurred.
Early exponents of Marxism in Ukraine were the economist Mykola Ziber and Serhii Podolynsky, a close associate of Mykhailo Drahomanov. But it was only in 1891–2 that the first stable Marxist group—the Russian Social Democratic Group—appeared in Kyiv. A reflection of the political activism that swept through the Russian Empire beginning in the 1890s was the appearance of illegal Ukrainian political organizations and parties: the Brotherhood of Taras (1891–8), the General Ukrainian Non-Party Democratic Organization (1897–1904), the Revolutionary Ukrainian party (1900–5), the Ukrainian Socialist party (Kyiv) (1900–3), the Ukrainian People's party (1902–7), the Ukrainian Democratic party (1904–5), the Ukrainian Radical party (1904–5), the Ukrainian Democratic Radical party (1905–8), the Ukrainian Social Democratic Spilka (1904–13), the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (1905–20), and the Society of Ukrainian Progressives (1908–17).
The Revolution of 1905 had an important impact on the development of the Ukrainian movement because Ukrainian-language publishing was temporarily permitted, as was freedom of association. Consequently by 1906 the number of Ukrainian-language periodicals had increased from 2 to 18, and Ukrainian publishing houses, Prosvita societies, co-operatives, and music and theater groups proliferated. These new initiatives were desperately needed to improve the cultural and educational levels of development of the Ukrainian population. In 1897 only 13 percent of Ukrainians were literate. In the wake of the revolution an imperial parliament—the State Duma—was established, and its Ukrainian members formed a caucus within it, the Ukrainian caucus in the Russian State Duma. By 1908, however, government restrictions against the rapidly spreading Ukrainian movement had mounted again.
Despite the repression that marked the 1876–1905 period, Ukrainian scholarship made great progress (see Historiography, Legal scholarship, Economic studies, Linguistics, Ethnography, Folklore, Literature studies, Archeology, Archeography, Church historiography, Geography). Ukrainian literature flourished, many scholarly societies were established, and by 1890 Ukrainian theater boasted five professional troupes, each with repertoires of 20 to 30 plays that were performed with great success throughout the Russian Empire.
Developments in Western Ukraine. In 1851 the population of Galicia was 4.6 million, of which Ukrainians constituted about 50 percent, Poles 41 percent, and Jews 7 percent. By 1910 the population had almost doubled, to 8 million (Ukrainians 42 percent; Poles [and other Roman Catholics], 47 percent; Jews, 11 percent). Over 90 percent of Ukrainians were peasants. Inhabiting the poorest regions in the Habsburg Empire and only recently emancipated from serfdom, they made slow economic progress. Many had landholdings of less than 5 ha and were heavily in debt, mainly to Jewish moneylenders. Thousands of peasants were forced to auction their land. Because industry was practically non-existent (except in the Drohobych-Boryslav Industrial Region), there were few alternatives to rural poverty. Consequently, pressure to emigrate was great, and between 1890 and 1914 the emigration of over 500,000 Ukrainians from western Ukraine to the New World took place.
After 1849, when Count Agenor Gołuchowski was appointed governor of the province, the political situation of the Ukrainians in Galicia deteriorated markedly. Following the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867, the Polish nobility won total control over the recently formed (1861) Galician Diet, and Vienna promised not to interfere in the Polish conduct of Galician affairs. Discouraged by the Polish predominance, disenchanted with the Habsburg dynasty, and lacking confidence in the Ukrainians’ ability to stand on their own, in the 1860s a large part of the West Ukrainian clerical and conservative elite, which controlled most Ukrainian institutions, looked to Russia for support. The Russophiles’ tendency to identify with the tsar and the Russian people and culture was opposed by Ukrainophile students, younger clergy, and members of the rising secular intelligentsia. Using Taras Shevchenko and the Ukrainophiles in Russian-ruled Ukraine as well as the Ruthenian Triad as their models, the Galician narodovtsi (populists) championed the use of the vernacular, sought closer ties with the Ukrainian peasantry and its culture, and stressed the national distinctiveness of the Ukrainians (see Western Ukrainian Populism). By the 1880s, however, a small group of young intelligentsia, led by Ivan Franko and Mykhailo Pavlyk, concluded that neither the narodovtsi nor the Russophiles addressed adequately the pressing socioeconomic needs of the West Ukrainian peasantry. Greatly influenced by Mykhailo Drahomanov, they adopted a program that combined socialism with Ukrainian national demands, and in 1890 they formed the Ukrainian Radical party.
Despite their political disadvantages vis-à-vis the Poles, Galicia’s Ukrainians lived in a constitutional monarchy that allowed much greater freedom of association and expression than was possible in the Russian Empire. This freedom, as well as examples set by the Czechs, Germans, and Poles, led to an upsurge of organizational activity in western Ukraine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A harbinger of this tendency was the Prosvita society founded by the narodovtsi in 1868 to spread literacy among the peasants. By 1914 it operated nearly 3,000 reading rooms and had close to 37,000 members. Later the physival-education society Sokil (1894) and the Sich societies (1900) were founded; by 1914 they had well over 50,000 members. From the 1880s a Ukrainian co-operative movement flourished in Western Ukraine, as did the Ukrainian press, and by 1913 West Ukrainians could boast of having 80 periodicals, 66 of them in Galicia, 8 in Bukovyna, 4 in Transcarpathia, and 4 in Vienna and Budapest. All this activity not only addressed the cultural and socioeconomic needs of the Ukrainian masses, but it also spread national consciousness and encouraged close ties between the intelligentsia (consisting usually of leaders of organizations) and the peasantry.
With the arrival in 1894 of Mykhailo Hrushevsky from Kyiv to occupy the Chair of History at Lviv University a new era in Ukrainian scholarship began, and under his direction in 1893 the Shevchenko Society was transformed into the Shevchenko Scientific Society, a de facto academy of sciences. As various ideologies crystallized, the organizational infrastructure grew, and the need to function effectively in a parliamentary system became more pressing, the West Ukrainians formed political parties, notably the above-mentioned Ukrainian Radical party (1890–1939), the populist-independentist National Democratic party (1899–1919), the Marxist Ukrainian Social Democratic party (1899–1924), and the Catholic Ruthenian People’s Union (1896).
As a result of the widespread educational, religious, civic, cultural, literary, and economic activity, Galicia became the bastion of the Ukrainian national movement. The Poles’ increased efforts to limit it led to a rapid escalation of hostilities between the two communities, reflected in the fierce clashes between Ukrainian and Polish students at Lviv University and the assassination, in 1908, of Vicegerent Andrzej Potocki by the Ukrainian student Myroslav Sichynsky. Bukovyna’s 300,000 Ukrainians experienced an upsurge in activity similar to that of their Galician counterparts. They succeeded in establishing an effective educational system and gaining significant representation in the Viennese parliament. By contrast, the 500,000 Ukrainians in Hungarian-dominated Transcarpathia had great difficulty in establishing their national identity because of the intense Magyarization policies of the government and strong Russophile tendencies among the tiny intelligentsia.
Ukraine in the First World War. The impact of the First World War on the Ukrainians, who were caught between major adversaries in the conflict, was immediate and devastating. About 3 million of them fought in Russia’s armies, and over 250,000 served in Austria’s forces. Some of the biggest battles on the eastern front occurred in Galicia, and much of Western Ukraine suffered terribly from repeated offensives and occupations. On the eve of the war, the West Ukrainians declared their loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty. When war broke out, they formed an umbrella organization—the Supreme Ukrainian Council in Lviv—and organized a 2,500-man volunteer legion, the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen—the first Ukrainian military unit in modern times. In 1915 they created a co-ordinating body in Vienna—the General Ukrainian Council—consisting of 21 Galician and 7 Bukovynian representatives and 3 members of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (an organization of émigrés from Russian-ruled Ukraine who sought German and Austrian aid for the creation of an independent Ukrainian state).
As Russian armies occupied much of Galicia and Bukovyna in September 1914, the retreating Habsburg authorities, suspecting the Ukrainians of pro-Russian sympathies, arrested and executed hundreds without trial and deported over 30,000, including many Russophiles, to internment camps, such as the one near Thalerhof in Austria. Under Russian occupation, the West Ukrainians were also subjected to exceedingly harsh treatment. Intent on Russifying the population, the tsarist authorities arrested and deported thousands of Ukrainian activists, shut down Ukrainian institutions, and banned the use of Ukrainian. They also launched a campaign to liquidate the Greek Catholic church, exiling Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky to Russia in the process. In 1915 western Ukraine was reoccupied by Austria. In the rest of Ukraine, Ukrainian activities were almost totally suppressed until the outbreak of the Revolution of 1917.
The rebirth of Ukrainian statehood (1917–20). By the third year of the First World War, the multinational Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Empire all showed signs of internal weakness and disintegration. In the Russian Empire, military defeats, disorganization, inflation, and serious food shortages provoked mass social discontent and unrest, which culminated in the February Revolution of 1917 and the collapse of the monarchy. Following the abdication of Nicholas II on 15 March 1917, most of the opposition parties in the State Duma banded together to form the Russian Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks, however, who came to dominate the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies in Petrograd and elsewhere, refused to participate in the government. In this situation of social and economic chaos and dual political authority, the Provisional Government found it impossible to maintain control.
Taking advantage of the revolutionary situation, Ukraine’s national leaders put forth not only social but also national and political demands. On 17 March 1917, the representatives of various Ukrainian political, community, cultural, and professional organizations gathered in Kyiv and formed the Ukrainian Central Rada as an all-Ukrainian representative body. On 22 March, the Rada issued an appeal to the Ukrainian people to maintain peace, establish order, and form political, cultural, and economic associations. Almost immediately a Constituent Military Council and Ukrainian Central Co-operative Committee were established, and the Prosvita society (banned in 1910) and the newspaper Rada (Kyiv) (banned in 1914), now renamed Nova rada (Kyiv), were revived. The congress of co-operatives held in Kyiv on 27–28 March came out in support of Ukrainian autonomy, as did a mass rally of over 100,000 people in Kyiv on 1 April.
Beginning in March, various political parties were reorganized or created. The liberal Society of Ukrainian Progressives was renamed the Union of Ukrainian Federalists-Autonomists and, in June 1917, the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists (UPSF); led from June by Serhii Yefremov, it favored autonomy within a federal Russian republic. The Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (USDRP) was revived; led by Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura, it propagated the idea of Ukrainian independence. The Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (UPSR) headed by Mykola M. Kovalevsky enjoyed mass peasant support; it pushed for territorial autonomy and the nationalization of land and dominated the Peasant Association, a mass organization that pursued the socialization of land. At the end of December 1917, the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Independentists (UPSS) was founded by Ukrainian patriots who were military personnel or had army backgrounds; its members (who in March 1917 had formed the Ukrainian Military Club headed by Mykola Mikhnovsky) organized Ukrainian military formations (see Army of the Ukrainian National Republic) and were the first to propagate the idea of an independent Ukrainian state. The small, conservative but separatist Ukrainian Democratic Agrarian party (UDAP) was founded in May 1917 by Ukrainian landowners; its ideologist Viacheslav Lypynsky promoted the idea of an independent monarchy ruled by a hetman and a Cossack elite. The USDRP and UPSR came to play leading roles in the Rada; the UPSF provided many of its functionaries; but the UPSS and UDAP played minor roles. Other minor parties—the Ukrainian Labor party (Kyiv) (UTP) and Ukrainian Federative Democratic party—also appeared.
In Petrograd itself, a rally of over 20,000 Ukrainians, mostly soldiers, came out in support of Ukraine’s autonomy. A week later the Ukrainian National Council in Petrograd was established with close links to the Central Rada. A similar Ukrainian Council was created in Moscow in late May.
An important event in the first phase of the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20) was the All-Ukrainian National Congress convoked by the Central Rada (Kyiv, 19–21 April 1917) whose 900 delegates recognized the Rada as the ‘supreme national authority’ and demanded Ukraine’s autonomy, national minority rights, and the participation of Ukrainian representatives in a future peace conference. The congress reorganized the Rada and elected its president (Mykhailo Hrushevsky) and vice-presidents (Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Serhii Yefremov). After the congress, the Rada elected from among its members an executive committee, later called the Little Rada.
Soldier, peasant, and worker organizations were also born in this period. These groups convened to proclaim their support for the Central Rada and elect delegates to it. The first All-Ukrainian Military Congress (18–21 May 1917) created the Ukrainian General Military Committee headed by Symon Petliura; the second congress (18–23 June 1917) organized the Free Cossacks (volunteer units) and elected the All-Ukrainian Council of Military Deputies to the Rada. The first All-Ukrainian Peasant Congress (10–16 June 1917) elected the Central Committee of the Peasant Association and the All-Ukrainian Council of Peasants' Deputies to the Rada, and the first All-Ukrainian Workers’ Congress (24–26 July 1917) elected the All-Ukrainian Council of Workers' Deputies to the Rada.
Ukraine’s national minorities—the Russians, Jews, and Poles—also organized themselves. Russians continued to dominate in city elections. The Provisional Government appointed (mostly Russian) gubernial commissioners (usually the heads of gubernial zemstvo executives) in Ukraine. Thus, in the first months of the revolution in Ukraine, dual authority—that of the Central Rada and the Provisional Government—existed. The Rada was also confronted in the Russified cities by the soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, but these had little Ukrainian support. Most non-Ukrainian political and civic organizations were hostile to the idea of Ukrainian autonomy, let alone independence.
When the Central Rada’s autonomist demands were presented by a delegation to the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet in May 1917 and rejected, the Rada issued the first of the four Universals of the Central Rada on 23 June 1917 during the second All-Ukrainian Military Congress. It called for the creation of an elected people’s assembly (diet) to ratify the laws determining the political and social order of an autonomous Ukraine. On 28 June the General Secretariat of the Central Rada was established as its executive body under Volodymyr Vynnychenko.
These important steps were accepted by the majority of Ukrainians. Consequently the Russian government had to come to terms with the Central Rada and its demands. In its Second Universal (16 July 1917) the Rada informed the people that the final decision on Ukraine’s autonomy would be made by the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. The legal basis for Ukraine’s autonomy was elaborated in the Statute of the Higher Administration of Ukraine and approved by the Little Rada on 29 July 1917. The Provisional Government, now headed by Aleksandr Kerensky, refused to ratify the statute, however, and on 17 August it issued a ‘Temporary Instruction to the General Secretariat’ subordinating the General Secretariat of the Central Rada to the Provisional Government instead of the Rada. The Rada reluctantly accepted the instruction as a temporary truce and the basis for obtaining further rights.
Ukrainian-Russian relations continued to deteriorate, as did economic conditions, military discipline, law and order, and the situation at the front. Interparty relations within the Central Rada and its control outside Kyiv became even more unstable. Although the Rada did succeed in organizing the Congress of the Peoples of Russia (21–28 September) and a congress of 80 gubernial commissioners and county commissioners (16–17 October), the Provisional Government continued to oppose the attempts of the General Secretariat of the Central Rada at functioning as an autonomous government.
On 7 November 1917 (25 October OS) the Bolsheviks in Petrograd overthrew the Provisional Government (see October Revolution of 1917). Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, they soon took power throughout most of ethnic Russia. But they were unsuccessful in Ukraine, the Kuban, and the Don region. The Central Rada condemned the coup on 8 November, but tried to remain neutral. On 10–13 November, however, battles took place in Kyiv between the units of Kyiv Military District, still loyal to the Provisional Government, and local Bolshevik forces. The pro-Rada First Ukrainian Regiment for the Defense of the Revolution, formed out of the delegates at the third All-Ukrainian Military Congress, intervened on the side of the Bolsheviks, and the Provisional Government’s troops retreated to the Don River.
On 12 November the Central Rada created a larger, more left-leaning General Secretariat. In its Third Universal (20 November 1917), it proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian National Republic in federation with Russia (see Universals of the Central Rada). The new General Secretariat of the Central Rada also guaranteed freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly, announced a political amnesty, and decreed that land was to be socialized without compensation. Workers were to be given control over their workplaces and production was to be state controlled. National-personal autonomy was granted to national minorities.
The elections in Ukraine to the All-Russian Constituent Assembly (10–12 December 1917) gave majority support to the Ukrainian parties, particularly the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (45.3 percent). The relations between the Central Rada and Bolshevik Russia deteriorated further. On 12 December, an attempted Bolshevik armed takeover in Kyiv was suppressed, and Bolshevik attempts to turn the All-Ukrainian Congress of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies (17–19 December) against the Rada failed after the Council of People's Commissars in Petrograd sent an ultimatum on 17 December, demanding that the Rada allow Bolshevik forces to fight counterrevolutionaries on Ukrainian territory and that it prevent the passage of Don Cossacks leaving the southwestern front to join Aleksei Kaledin’s anti-Bolshevik army in the Don region.
The Central Rada rejected the Soviet Russian ultimatum and, soon after, the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21, broke out. The Bolsheviks proclaimed a Ukrainian soviet republic at the first All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets in Kharkiv (24–25 December) and appointed a workers’ and peasants’ government (the Peoples' Secretariat) on 30 December. A Russian Bolshevik army, aided by local rebellions, invaded Left-Bank Ukraine in January 1918 and, after the Battle of Kruty (29 January), began advancing on Kyiv. Though the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic suppressed the Bolshevik uprising at the Arsenal plant in Kyiv (4 February), the Rada was forced to abandon Kyiv and flee to Zhytomyr on 7 February.
By December 1917 the Central Rada’s leaders concluded that a separate peace treaty with the Central Powers and German military aid were the only way of saving the Ukrainian National Republic. Since only a full-fledged independent state could conclude an international agreement, on 25 January 1918 the Rada issued its Fourth Universal (back-dated to 22 January) proclaiming Ukraine’s independence. The General Secretariat of the Central Rada was renamed the Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic, and 2 February was announced as the date for the convention of the Constituent Assembly of Ukraine, elections to which had taken place on 9 January in regions not occupied by the Bolsheviks. A week later Volodymyr Vynnychenko resigned as prime minister, and on 30 January Vsevolod Holubovych formed a new government dominated by the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries.
On 9 February 1918 the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between the Ukrainian National Republic and the Central Powers was signed, and on 19 February German-Austrian armies began their offensive against the Bolshevik-occupied lands. In early March Holubovych’s government returned to Kyiv, and by early April the last of the Red Army retreated from Ukraine. The German high command interfered in Ukrainian internal affairs as soon as its offensive began. Germany was interested mainly in exploiting Ukraine economically as part of its war effort, and the disorder, anti-German guerrillas, and policies of an uncooperative Ukrainian socialist government made the attainment of this goal difficult. To ensure the delivery of foodstuffs, the Germans took control of the railways. To force the recalcitrant peasants to sow their fields, Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn issued an order on 6 April reversing the Rada’s land nationalization policies, and on 25 April he formally introduced martial law. Gen Wilhelm Groener began secret negotiations with Gen Pavlo Skoropadsky, a representative of conservative and landowning circles in Ukraine, about forming a new government that would be favorably disposed to the Germans’ aims and policies. On 26–27 April the Ukrainian Bluecoats divisions were disarmed and on 29 April, the day that the Constitution of the Ukrainian National Republic was adopted and Mykhailo Hrushevsky was elected president of the republic, a German-supported coup d’état was staged, and the congress of the All-Ukrainian Union of Landowners proclaimed Skoropadsky ‘Hetman of Ukraine.’
The Hetman government. Pavlo Skoropadsky assumed all executive and legislative power and supreme command of the army and navy; only judiciary functions were left to a General Court. All laws promulgated by the Central Rada were abolished, and the Ukrainian National Republic was renamed the Ukrainian State. The new regime, its legislation, and administration resembled those of tsarist times.
The first Hetman government under Premier Fedir Lyzohub included such well-known Ukrainian figures as Dmytro Doroshenko and Mykola Vasylenko. Many of the other members belonged to Russian parties, mainly to the Russian Constitutional Democratic (kadet) party (aka the Kadets); some were even Russian monarchists. The repressive, pro-German, and reactionary social and economic policies of the new regime and its (mostly Russian) collaborators engendered opposition from most of the Ukrainian political parties and the zemstvos, and led to strikes, widespread peasant rebellions and peasant guerrillas (eg, Nestor Makhno and Yurii Tiutiunnyk), arson and bombings, assassinations (eg, that of Hermann von Eichhorn), and even increased support for the Bolsheviks.
Organized Ukrainian political opposition to the Hetman regime began in May 1918, when members of the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Independentists, Ukrainian Democratic Agrarian party, Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists, Ukrainian Labor party (Kyiv), and the railwaymen’s and postal-telegraph unions formed the Ukrainian National-State Union (UNDS). In July this coalition was joined by the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party, Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, and various cultural, civic, labor, and professional organizations, and renamed the Ukrainian National Union (UNS). After Germany’s surrender in November 1918 and the withdrawal of its troops, the danger of a renewed Bolshevik occupation led Pavlo Skoropadsky to turn to the anti-Bolshevik, but also anti-Ukrainian and pro-White, Entente Powers. To appease them he proclaimed his intention to federate with a future non-Bolshevik Russia and appointed a new cabinet made up mostly of Russian monarchists. These developments triggered the popular uprising that the Ukrainian National Republic had been planning. Commanded by the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic, the uprising was supported militarily by the Sich Riflemen, various guerrilla detachments, thousands of peasants, and, towards the end, Ukrainian soldiers in the hetman’s army. In December 1918, his military and German support gone, Skoropadsky abdicated, and the UNR was re-established in Kyiv.
The period of the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic. On 26 December 1918 the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic restored the legislation of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) (landowners’ and church estates were again socialized without compensation), and in January 1919 a new Council of National Ministers of the Ukrainian National Republic was constituted. To counter widespread pro-Bolshevik propaganda, the socialist Directory built its authority on the basis of gubernia and county labor councils of workers, peasants, and toiling intelligentsia. The Labor Congress that took place on 23–28 January 1919 in Kyiv ratified the unification of the UNR and the newly created Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) and recognized the supreme power of the Directory until the next session of the congress.
Upon assuming power, the Directory was faced with an extremely difficult internal and international situation. It was forced to deal with a renewed Bolshevik offensive and to continue fighting the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21; to aid the ZUNR in the ongoing Ukrainian-Polish War in Galicia, 1918–19; to circumvent Gen. Anton Denikin’s anti-Ukrainian as well as anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army in the Don region and hostile Romanian forces in Bessarabia and Bukovyna; to contain the Franco-Greek Entente expeditionary forces that had occupied the Crimea and Odesa and were helping Denikin; and to cope with an unruly Partisan movement in Ukraine, 1918–22 (eg, Nestor Makhno and Nykyfor Hryhoriv), whose activities and excesses compromised and even endangered the new government.
The only solution was to come to an agreement with either Moscow or the Allied Powers. The failure of Premier Volodymyr Chekhivsky and Directory chairman Volodymyr Vynnychenko to arrange peace with the Bolsheviks prompted the government to accept the pro-Entente orientation proposed by Symon Petliura, the supreme military commander. On 10 February 1919, Vynnychenko and Chekhivsky resigned and Petliura became the new chairman. To facilitate negotiations with the Entente, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party and Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries withdrew from the government, and on 13 February a new cabinet, headed by Serhii Ostapenko and composed mainly of ministers belonging to the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists, was formed. The new government tried to negotiate a common strategy against the Bolsheviks with the French commander in Odesa, Col Henri Freydenberg. The plan failed because of Anton Denikin’s opposition, the population’s hostility to the policies of the ‘bourgeois’ cabinet and its accommodation with the French, and the Entente’s insistence on Petliura’s resignation and French control of the army, railroads, and finances.
Beaten on several fronts, the government was no longer in control. Ukrainian army units became more demoralized, increasingly more and more partisan otamans appeared, and forces associated with the UNR engaged in a series of pogroms that took thousands of Jewish lives, as did Volunteer Army units, Red Army troops, and sundry partisan units. The Bolshevik offensive forced the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic to evacuate Vinnytsia. Meanwhile Otaman Nykyfor Hryhoriv drove the Entente forces out of Kherson (10 March), Mykolaiv (15 March), and Odesa (6 April). With the Entente forces’ retreat from Ukraine, Serhii Ostapenko’s cabinet lost its raison d’être, and on 9 April a new cabinet, headed by Borys Martos and made up of members of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party and Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, was formed in Rivne, Volhynia. The new government appealed to the populace to continue resisting the Bolshevik aggressors, reassured it that it would not turn for aid to foreign powers, and reiterated its adherence to democracy.
Between April and July, 328 anti-Bolshevik revolts took place in Ukraine. They were led by the left faction that had split from the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party in January and founded the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Independentists) and by part of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries; together they formed the All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee, with a program of creating an independent socialist (non-Bolshevik) Ukrainian republic. The insurgent forces of otamans Nykyfor Hryhoriv and Danylo Zeleny also fought the Bolsheviks. The initial successes of the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic in the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21, were undermined by opposition from the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Independentists and the right-wing Ukrainian People's Republican party, which backed Otaman Volodymyr Oskilko’s abortive coup in Rivne on 29 April.
In June the government moved to Kamianets-Podilskyi, and on 27 August a new USDRP/UPSR-dominated cabinet, headed by Isaak Mazepa, was constituted there. In July a joint offensive of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA) began against the Bolsheviks in Right-Bank Ukraine. Simultaneously but independently, Anton Denikin’s Volunteer Army began its offensive against the Bolsheviks in Left-Bank Ukraine. On 31 August both forces entered Kyiv; to avoid armed conflict, the Ukrainian command withdrew from the city.
At this point, views among the Ukrainian leaders diverged. The Directory and the cabinet considered both the Whites and the Reds to be Ukraine’s main foes; to get aid from the Entente they were prepared to form an alliance with Poland. The Ukrainians from Galicia, headed by Yevhen Petrushevych, however, considered Poland the greater enemy; they were prepared to come to terms with Anton Denikin and thus get the support of the Entente. Meanwhile, the Entente Powers, being hostile to Ukrainian independence, began an economic blockade of Ukraine, and the Volunteer Army pursued a reactionary policy of destroying everything Ukrainian, terrorizing the populace, and restoring land to the gentry in the occupied territories.
Massive jacqueries against the Whites, led by Nestor Makhno, Danylo Zeleny, and other partisan leaders, erupted, and Symon Petliura, to whom the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic yielded all power on 15 September, declared war on Denikin on 24 September. A typhus epidemic, exacerbated by the lack of medical supplies owing to the Entente’s blockade, annihilated up to 70 percent of the Ukrainian army (90 percent of the Ukrainian Galician Army) and decimated the populace. Consequently the UHA commander, Gen Myron Tarnavsky, signed an alliance with Denikin on 6 November, on the eve of the start of the third Soviet offensive in Ukraine. Yevhen Petrushevych opposed this alliance, and on 16 November he and others in the government of the Dictatorship of the Western Province of the Ukrainian National Republic left Kamianets-Podilskyi for Vienna. A day earlier, Fedir Shvets and Andrii Makarenko, two of the three remaining members of the Directory, went abroad on state business and gave Petliura authority to act in the name of the Directory. Petliura and the government and UNR Army left Kamianets-Podilskyi for Volhynia, and on 17 November the Poles occupied Kamianets-Podilskyi.
In late November the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic found itself surrounded by the Bolshevik, Polish, and White forces in Volhynia. In December the UNR government and army commanders abandoned regular warfare for partisan tactics against the Bolshevik and Denikin forces and the First Winter Campaign began. Symon Petliura went to Warsaw to join the vice-premier, Andrii Livytsky, in trying to influence the attitude of the Entente Powers.
On 16 December the Bolsheviks occupied Kyiv for the third time. By the middle of February 1920, they had forced Anton Denikin’s army out of Ukraine with the aid of formations of the Ukrainian Galician Army (the Red Ukrainian Galician Army), which had joined them in January. Thus, by early 1920 Volhynia and western Podilia were occupied by the Polish army, and the rest of Ukraine was under Bolshevik control.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian emissaries in Warsaw had begun negotiations favorable to the Poles resulting in the Treaty of Warsaw of 22 April 1920 signed by Symon Petliura and Józef Piłsudski. The terms of the treaty, especially the surrender of the western Ukrainian territories to Poland, caused painful and profound discord among Ukrainians. As a result, Isaak Mazepa’s government resigned, and a new government of the Ukrainian National Republic—the last one on Ukrainian soil—was formed in May 1920 by Viacheslav Prokopovych.
A joint offensive of the Polish-Ukrainian armies against Soviet-occupied Ukraine and Belarus began on 24 April. On 6 May they took Kyiv, but in June they were forced to retreat to Galicia and Poland proper. On 15 August the Bolsheviks were routed near Warsaw, and the joint armies of a new Polish-Ukrainian counteroffensive occupied part of Podilia by mid-October.
On 12 October the Polish government signed an armistice with the Soviets, and the 30,000-man Army of the Ukrainian National Republic was forced to retreat on 21 November into Poland, where its soldiers were incarcerated (see Internment camps). Armed struggle against the Bolsheviks was continued by dozens of partisan groups in Podilia gubernia, Kyiv gubernia, Katerynoslav gubernia, and Poltava gubernia. The insurgents, who numbered some 40,000 in late 1920, resisted Soviet rule until 1924. They were joined by UNR Army veterans from Poland under the command of Yurii Tiutiunnyk, who operated in Volhynia and Podilia in November 1921 (the Second Winter Campaign).
The 18 March 1921 Peace Treaty of Riga reaffirmed the Polish-Soviet armistice, established diplomatic relations between Poland and Soviet Ukraine, and legitimized Poland’s annexation of Western Ukraine. The parliament in exile of the Ukrainian National Republic—the Council of the Republic—functioned in Tarnów, Poland, from February to August 1921.
The Western Ukrainian National Republic, 1918–23. The rebirth of the Western Ukrainian state was influenced strongly by the Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath in the rest of Ukraine. On 18–19 October 1918, the Ukrainian members of the Austrian parliament, the Galician Diet, and the Bukovynian Diet and three delegates from each Ukrainian political party in Galicia and Bukovyna constituted the Ukrainian National Rada (UNRada) in Lviv as the representative council of the Ukrainians in Austria-Hungary and proclaimed the creation of a Ukrainian state on the territory of Galicia, northern Bukovyna, and Transcarpathia. A democratic constitution, granting proportional representation to all national minorities in the state organs, was adopted. Yevhen Petrushevych was elected chairman of the UNRada, and a delegation for Galician affairs in Vienna under the direction of Kost Levytsky was formed.
On 9 November the UNRada named the new state the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) and the members of the Galician delegation became its first government—the State Secretariat of the Western Ukrainian National Republic.
The Ukrainian National Rada proclaimed personal autonomy for the national minorities. Nonetheless, the Poles in Galicia were hostile to the Western Ukrainian National Republic from the outset and mounted armed opposition to it. The Ukrainian-Polish War in Galicia, 1918–19, began 1 November 1918 (see November Uprising in Lviv, 1918). Polish forces occupied Lviv on 21 November, forcing the new government to move to Ternopil. While the Poles were backed by the might of the new Polish state, the ZUNR could only count on the military potential of Galicia’s Ukrainians. Nonetheless, with the exception of Lviv, the corridor linking it with Peremyshl, and a few western counties, most of Galicia remained in Ukrainian hands. In late December, the UNRada and the government moved to Stanyslaviv. On 4 January 1919 a 10-member government executive, headed by Sydir Holubovych, was appointed.
From its inception the State Secretariat of the Western Ukrainian National Republic was charged with the task of unifying all the Ukrainian territories into one state. On 1 December 1918 an agreement to federate had been signed by representatives of the ZUNR and UNR governments in Fastiv; on 4 January 1919, the Ukrainian National Rada ratified the law of union, and on 22 January the union was proclaimed and celebrated in Kyiv. Thereafter, the Western Ukrainian National Republic was officially called the Western Province of the Ukrainian National Republic. Its political structure and ruling bodies were not changed, however, owing to the exigencies of the wars with Ukraine’s enemies.
The Ukrainian National Rada promulgated various laws for the new state and sought international recognition of the Western Ukrainian National Republic (see Diplomacy) and an end to the war with Poland. The government devoted much of its attention to the Paris Peace Conference and to lobbying the Entente Powers. By June 1919, the tide in the Ukrainian-Polish War had turned against the ZUNR and the Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA). Sydir Holubovych’s government resigned, and the UNRada empowered Yevhen Petrushevych to head a Dictatorship of the Western Province of the Ukrainian National Republic. The war continued to go badly despite the successes of the Chortkiv offensive, and on 16–18 July UHA and the government retreated into territory of the Ukrainian National Republic, leaving Galicia under Polish occupation.
While in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Yevhen Petrushevych and Symon Petliura failed to come to terms, and after the Ukrainian Galician Army was decimated by typhus and the third Soviet invasion of Ukraine began, Petrushevych left in November for Vienna, from where he and his government launched a diplomatic campaign against Poland until the Conference of Ambassadors sanctioned the Peace Treaty of Riga (1921) and the annexation of Galicia and western Volhynia by Poland in March 1923.
Ukraine in the interwar years
Soviet Ukraine. During the Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21, the Bolsheviks formed several short-lived governments in Ukraine (see Communist Party of Ukraine, Council of People's Commissars, Donets–Kryvyi Rih Soviet Republic, People's Secretariat, and Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraine). Although, for tactical reasons, they recognized the independence of Ukraine, and the Third All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets (Kyiv, 6–10 March 1919) adopted the first Constitution of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as ‘an independent and sovereign state,’ in reality the military, state, and Party apparatuses were directed from Moscow and dominated by foreign and anti-Ukrainian elements, who terrorized the population while imposing their rule (see Cheka), nationalizing all industry and commerce, and enforcing a ruthless requisitioning of farm produce. The excesses of War Communism led to the ruin of the agricultural economy and culminated in the Famine of 1921–3 in Ukraine.
As a result of widespread opposition, the Bolsheviks were forced to build an indigenous power base by seeking accommodation with and incorporating the ‘national communists’—the influential Borotbists and Ukrainian Communist party (see National communism). By 1921, the forces of the Ukrainian National Republic and Gen Petr Wrangel’s White army had been defeated and the peace treaty with Poland had been signed. Soviet power was by and large secure, and Vladimir Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP). On 30 December 1922 the USSR—a multinational federation of Soviet republics—was formally constituted (see Federalism). According to the Constitution of the USSR that was ratified by the Second Congress of Soviets on 31 January 1924, foreign relations, commerce, the military, transportation, and communications became prerogatives of the all-Union government, while the republican governments were given authority over internal and agrarian affairs, education, the judiciary, public health, and social security within their own borders. Nevertheless, the USSR remained in practice a centralized state, and directives continued to come from Moscow.
To appease the various nationalities and gain their support for Soviet rule, the Bolsheviks approved the principle of korenizatsiia (indigenization) and condemned Russian chauvinism at their 12th Congress in 1923. The new nationality policy emphasized the need for the economic development of various republics, the creation of indigenous national cadres, education in the mother tongue, de-Russification of the Party and state apparats, and even the creation of territorial military units in the individual republics. As a result, Ukrainization was introduced in 1923 and its development had a profound impact on culture, education, and politics.
The positive changes that the New Economic Policy and Ukrainization brought about convinced certain Galician Ukrainian and émigré political figures and scholars (eg, Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Andrii Nikovsky, Pavlo Khrystiuk, Mykola Chechel, Mykola Shrah, Stepan Rudnytsky) to return to Ukraine. These policies also generated a national Literary Discussion about the direction that Ukrainian literature should take; during it the influential and popular writer Mykola Khvylovy even advocated cultural (and ultimately political) independence from Moscow and an orientation toward Western civilization. Ukrainization also buttressed the position of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church (UAOC), which was founded in Kyiv in 1921 (see History of the Ukrainian church).
The success of Ukrainization and the national legitimacy it gave Ukraine soon threatened Moscow’s hegemony and spawned a fierce struggle between its supporters and opponents in the CP(B)U. In May 1926 the People's Commissar of Education, Oleksander Shumsky, protested against delays in Ukrainizing the proletariat, as well as Joseph Stalin’s appointment of a non-Ukrainian, Lazar Kaganovich, as first secretary of the CP(B)U (1925–8). He also defended the views of Mykola Khvylovy and the Neoclassicists, and was condemned as a ‘nationalist deviationist.’ His removal provoked a schism in the Communist Party of Western Ukraine, resulting in the expulsion of its ‘Shumskyist’ majority from the Comintern in 1928. Mykhailo Volobuiev’s argument that Moscow continued to exploit Ukraine as a colony was also condemned as the ‘economic foundation of Khvylovyism and Shumskyism.’
Between 1926 and 1928 over 36,000 ‘Shumskyists,’ ‘Khvylovyists,’ and ‘Trotskyists’ were expelled from the CP(B)U. Mykola Khvylovy was forced to renounce his views, and Vaplite—the group of writers he led and influenced—was forced to dissolve in 1928. In 1928 a campaign against the ‘nationalist deviations’ of the Ukrainian Marxist school of history, led by Matvii Yavorsky, also began. In 1930, 45 leading figures in Ukrainian scholarship, culture, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church were sentenced at the show trial of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU) and the Association of Ukrainian Youth, which were allegedly led by Serhii Yefremov, Volodymyr Durdukivsky, and Volodymyr Chekhivsky. Fifteen other alleged counterrevolutionary organizations were ‘uncovered’ during the Stalinist terror of the 1930s.
Towards the end of the 1920s, having defeated the various internal Party oppositions, Stalin consolidated his personal power. Under his rule the USSR became an increasingly Russocentric state whose population was governed by a powerful bureaucracy and terrorized by the ruthless Soviet secret police—the OGPU and NKVD (see Terror).
In December 1927, the 15th Party Congress approved the acceleration of industrialization and ushered in the first five-year plan (1928–33). Private industry was abolished, and all commerce was nationalized. The plan also called for the collectivization of agriculture. Subsequently the peasants were herded into collective farms and impossible quotas for the delivery of grain and other foodstuffs to the state were imposed (see Agricultural procurement; Grain procurement). Those who opposed these draconian measures were deported to concentration camps, if not killed outright, and hundreds of thousands of peasants were labeled kulaks (Ukrainian: kurkuli) and deported to Siberia or the Arctic.
Collectivization caused great hardship and suffering in the rural areas of Soviet Ukraine and the RSFSR’s adjacent Kuban region, where a sizable Ukrainian peasant population also lived. However, it was only the prelude to an outright catastrophe: the Famine-Genocide of 1932–3, also known as the Holodomor. Increased Soviet grain requisitioning during the years 1930–2 had led to some starvation in Ukraine and the Kuban. All the same, the Stalinist authorities, who believed that Ukraine held substantial reserves of grain that were not being delivered, were unwilling to lower quotas. Ukrainian Party officials, particularly those at the local or regional level, were alarmed by what they considered unrealizable levies and the growing food shortage problem. Nevertheless, the CP(B)U conference of July 1932 agreed to the onerous grain-collection figures for that year’s harvest, albeit under heavy pressure from Moscow. However, the amount of grain delivered from Ukraine in July 1932 (and in the months following) was far short of the requisition target.
By August 1932 Joseph Stalin had begun to doubt the loyalty of the entire Party apparat in Soviet Ukraine and to view the situation in that republic as politically unstable and insurrectionary. Consequently, in October 1932 he appointed Viacheslav Molotov head of an extraordinary commission, which from November 1932 to January 1933 sent out special brigades to confiscate absolutely all grain and other foodstuffs from the peasants. Meanwhile, Soviet Ukraine’s borders were sealed and guarded to prevent peasant flight to other republics. As a result, starvation occurred on a massive scale, resulting in a total death count of at least 4.6 million inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine and a drastic decline in Ukraine’s birth rate for many years to come.
While this crime against humanity raged, the Soviet Union denied it existed, turned down all offers of food assistance from abroad, and sold great quantities of grain abroad to finance its industrialization drive throughout the USSR.
In January 1933, during the height of the Bolshevik regime’s genocidal policies in Ukraine and other Soviet republics, Stalin appointed Pavel Postyshev second CP(B)U secretary and de facto dictator of Ukraine. His arrival marked the beginning of the Great Terror in Ukraine, during which Ukrainian cultural institutions were purged, remolded, or abolished altogether. Ukrainization was officially abolished on 22 November 1933, and Russification in all sectors of Ukrainian life was pursued. In this violent transformation of Ukrainian culture and society four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural and intellectual elite perished. Seeing their nation ravaged by famine and terror, both Mykola Khvylovy and Mykola Skrypnyk, themselves persecuted, committed suicide in 1933.
Throughout the 1930s the CP(B)U was extensively purged of ‘Ukrainizers’ and hundreds of thousands of its members disappeared. Pavel Postyshev himself was removed in 1937 during the Yezhov terror, and in 1938 Stanislav Kosior, the CP(B)U first secretary (1928–38), was replaced: both were subsequently shot. In 1937, almost all the members of the CP(B)U Central Committee and Ukrainian government were liquidated, and the head of the government from 1934, Panas Liubchenko, committed suicide. By the end of the 1930s the Ukrainian population was decimated and leaderless, and its culture made to conform to all-Soviet patterns. In 1938, Joseph Stalin appointed Nikita Khrushchev and Demian Korotchenko to head the CP(B)U and the Ukrainian government.
Western Ukraine under Poland. In the years 1919–23 in Galicia, Podlachia, western Volhynia, western Polisia, and the Kholm region, Lemko region, and Sian region, the Poles pursued a policy of denationalization, persecution, and repression. In 1919–20, 70,000 Ukrainians were imprisoned in concentration camps. The Galician Diet was abolished in 1920, as was Galician autonomy that had existed under Austrian rule since the late 1860s. The Ukrainian press was censored, and the Ukrainian chairs at Lviv University were closed down. The so-called Sokal border was created to prevent contact between the Galician organizations and institutions and their counterparts in the Northwestern Ukrainian lands (Volhynia, Polisia, Podlachia, and the Kholm region).
The Ukrainians in Galicia responded by creating the Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian University and a nationalist underground—the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO)—and by boycotting the census of 1920 and the elections of 1922. The Ukrainians in the northwestern regions did not boycott the elections, however, and sent 20 representatives to the Sejm and 5 to the Senate. In March 1923 the Conference of Ambassadors sanctioned Poland’s annexation of Galicia and the government-in-exile of the Western Ukrainian National Republic was dissolved. Consequently the Galician political parties changed their strategy and began seeking accommodation with and participation in the new regime.
In 1925 the centrist Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (UNDO) was formed under Dmytro Levytsky; until the Second World War it was the most popular and influential legal political party. After the Ukrainian Radical party was joined by Socialist Revolutionaries from Volhynia in 1926, it was renamed the Ukrainian Socialist Radical party (USRP). The Ukrainian Social Democratic party (USDP), which was banned as communist in 1924, was revived in December 1929; neither it nor the Ukrainian Catholic People's party, formed in 1930, had much influence or support. Sovietophile tendencies were represented by the Ukrainian Party of Labor (1927–30) and the Ukrainian Peasants’ and Workers’ Socialist Alliance or Sel-Rob (1926–32), the front organization of the clandestine Communist Party of Western Ukraine (1923–38).
The Ukrainian Military Organization, led by Yevhen Konovalets, engaged in acts of sabotage throughout the 1920s against the Polish government and landowners, as well as against Ukrainian ‘collaborators’ with the regime and Sovietophiles. From the mid-1920s, new, younger members, who were not veterans of the Ukrainian Galician Army or Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, were recruited into the thinning ranks, and in 1929 the conspiratorial Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was founded to take over its functions and to propagate a well-defined program and ideology of nationalism, much of it inspired by the writings of Dmytro Dontsov. Konovalets became the leader of the OUN.
The Polish government maintained its anti-Ukrainian policies throughout the 1920s. In 1924 it banned the use of Ukrainian in state and self-government institutions and abolished unilingual Ukrainian schools (see Education). Throughout the 1920s it promoted the colonization of Western Ukraine by Poles. The influx of some 200,000 Poles into the villages and some 100,000 into the cities and towns heightened Ukrainian-Polish tensions.
During the 1928 Polish elections, 46 Ukrainians were elected to the Sejm and 13 to the Senate. The deputies and senators from the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance and Ukrainian Socialist Radical party, in particular, defended Ukrainian interests, declaring that they stood for a pan-Ukrainian sovereign state. Despite the government’s oppressive measures, Ukrainian cultural, scholarly, civic, and co-operative life continued to develop. In fall 1930 Józef Piłsudski’s government reacted to ongoing activity of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists with a harsh military and police campaign (the Pacification) in Galicia. Ukrainian political, civic, and cultural figures were brutally beaten and tortured, Ukrainian institutional and private property was destroyed, and mass arrests occurred. This terror and intimidation affected the outcome of the 1930 elections: only 27 Ukrainians were elected to the Sejm and 5 to the Senate.
Polish oppression intensified in the 1930s. Municipal government was abolished in Galicia in 1933. Polisia and the Lemko region and Kholm region, in particular, were subjected to wholesale Polonization and forced conversion to Roman Catholicism. Hundreds of Ukrainian political prisoners were confined in the Bereza Kartuzka concentration camp established in 1934. In 1935 a new Polish constitution reduced the powers and composition of the Sejm and the Senate, and Poland became a virtual dictatorship. Attempts by the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (led by Vasyl Mudry) at seeking a Ukrainian-Polish rapprochement (see Normalization) proved unsuccessful because of Polish chauvinistic attitudes and discrimination, the regime’s repressiveness, the revolutionary militancy of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and the uncompromising attitude of the Front of National Unity, the Union of Ukrainian Women, and other Ukrainian organizations and political parties.
Ukrainian territories under Romanian rule. From November 1918, the Ukrainians of Bukovyna, Bessarabia, and part of the Maramureş region came under Romanian rule. Opposition to the regime was manifested by the Khotyn uprising of 1919 and the Tatarbunary uprising of 1924. The greatest national persecution occurred in Bukovyna, where repressive military rule lasted until 1928. The Ukrainian chairs at Chernivtsi University and most Ukrainian organizations were abolished, the Ukrainian press was forbidden, and Romanianization of the Ukrainian Orthodox church was systematically pursued. In 1922 instruction in Ukrainian was abolished in almost all schools. To facilitate the Romanianization of education, a 1924 law proclaimed Ukrainians to be Romanians who had forgotten their mother tongue.
Conditions improved somewhat in 1927, and the populist Ukrainian National party (UNP), headed by Volodymyr Zalozetsky-Sas, was founded to defend Ukrainian interests in parliament as best it could. Despite the regime’s oppression, Ukrainian cultural, community, and student organizations in Bukovyna remained active and several periodicals were published, including the daily Chas (Chernivtsi) (1928–40). Teaching in Ukrainian was allowed from 1931 to 1933.
In the 1930s, the underground Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists gained a large following among Bukovyna’s students and peasants. The Nationalists published the monthly Samostiina dumka (1931–7) and the weekly Samostiinist’ (1934–7). In 1938 all Ukrainian political parties were outlawed, and thereafter all manifestations of Ukrainian organized life were persecuted by the royal dictatorship.
Ukrainian territories under Czechoslovak rule. In 1919 the Ukrainians of Transcarpathia elected to be part of the new Czechoslovak Republic (see Central Ruthenian People's Council and American National Council of Uhro-Rusins), and the official region of Subcarpathian Ruthenia was created, leaving the Prešov region as part of Slovakia. It was governed by Jan Brejcha and a five-man Directory of Subcarpathian Ruthenia (1919–20). The central government approved the use of the local language in education and other official activities. Consequently the struggle between the Russophile, Rusynophile, Ukrainophile, and Magyarone camps over the unresolved language question and national identity intensified. The Ukrainophiles, led by Rev Avhustyn Voloshyn, Mykhailo Brashchaiko and Yulii Brashchaiko, founded the Ruthenian Agrarian party and the Prosvita society, co-operatives, publishing houses, periodicals, and the Plast Ukrainian Youth Association. The Russophiles set up their own parties, the Dukhnovych Society, and other rival counterparts.
Seeing that the ‘Ruthenians’ were divided and mistrusting the Russophiles and Magyarones in the 1920s and the Ukrainophiles in the 1930s, the central government did not move on the demands to create a provincial diet or institute autonomy in the region. Governor Antin Beskyd, a Russophile, purged the administration of Ukrainians, and he and Vice-governor Antonín. Rozsypal did much to discredit Ukrainians in the eyes of the central government.
In 1928 Subcarpathian Ruthenia became the fourth province of the Czechoslovak republic with its capital in Uzhhorod. In the 1930s many Ukrainians became Sovietophile Communists or radical nationalists in reaction to Prague’s refusal to grant autonomy to the region and its support of the Russophiles, the policies of the chauvinistic Czech bureaucracy, and the effects of the depression (chronic unemployment, rural poverty, hunger).
Under the influence of the Ukrainian movement, demands for autonomy grew, but the Czech government, preoccupied with the Sudeten German crisis, deferred its implementation. After the Munich Agreement on 11 October 1938 Prague was forced to allow the creation of an autonomous Subcarpathian Ruthenian government headed by Andrii Brodii and, from 26 October, Avhustyn Voloshyn. The Ukrainian movement strove to form a Carpatho-Ukrainian state incorporating the Prešov region and federated with the Czechs and the Slovaks, while most of the Russophiles supported union with Hungary. On 2 November southern Transcarpathia (including Uzhhorod, Mukachevo, and Berehove) was ceded to Hungary. Despite this loss, the Ukrainians took to building an autonomous Carpatho-Ukraine with the aid of Galician and Bukovynian émigrés and material support from the overseas emigration. The school system was Ukrainianized, and a paramilitary force—the Carpathian Sich—was created with assistance of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Elections to the Diet of Carpatho-Ukraine were held on 12 February 1939 in which the Ukrainian National Alliance (Transcarpathia) of political parties received 86.1 percent of the vote.
The new government had to contend with Polish and Hungarian border incursions and friction with Prague, culminating in a battle between the Carpathian Sich and Czech troops under Gen L. Prchala on 14 March. In Khust on 15 March the Diet of Carpatho-Ukraine proclaimed Carpatho-Ukrainian independence, ratified a constitution, elected Avhustyn Voloshyn president of the state, and confirmed a new government under Premier Yuliian Revai. At that very moment Hungarian forces invaded Carpatho-Ukraine and the president and part of the government fled to Romania.
The Ukrainian political émigrés in Europe. After the demise of the Ukrainian National Republic, most of its government and army and many political and cultural figures sought refuge in Central and Western Europe. Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, and Paris became the major émigré centers, and small communities were established in Geneva, London, Leuven, Rome, Zagreb, Bucharest, Sofia, and Helsinki. Several political parties remained active in the emigration: the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party, the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, the Ukrainian Party of Socialists-Federalists (renamed the Ukrainian Radical Democratic party), and the Ukrainian Union of Agrarians-Statists. By the late 1920s the socialists, liberals, and conservatives had been largely eclipsed in the emigration, as in Galicia, by the radical nationalists of the Ukrainian Military Organization and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
The Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic was active throughout the interwar years. The heads of its Directory were Symon Petliura (1920–6), Andrii Livytsky (1926–39), and Viacheslav Prokopovych (1939–40). Until the early 1920s the Government-in-exile relied on the diplomatic missions of the Ukrainian National Republic created in 1918–19 to lobby the Western governments. Czechoslovakia emerged as a particularly dynamic center of émigré Ukrainian political, academic, and artistic life during this period.
Ukraine during the Second World War. The secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939 divided Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and the USSR. On 1 September Germany invaded Poland, thereby beginning the Second World War, and soon it occupied Podlachia, the Kholm region and Lemko region, and Galicia west of the Sokal–Lviv–Stryi line. The Western Ukrainians offered a measured welcome to the Germans believing they would prove to be their liberators from Polish oppression. A 600-man unit consisting of members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Carpathian Sich served as the intermediary between the population and the advancing German army until the end of September 1939.
In its occupied territories the Germans created the so-called Generalgouvernement (GG) of Poland. When the Soviet Army began occupying Western Ukraine east of the Sian River and Buh River, some 20,000 refugees fled to the GG; in 1940 they were joined by refugees from Bukovyna. There, between November 1939 and April 1940, leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists organized a civic umbrella organization, and in June 1940 this Ukrainian Central Committee (UTsK), headed by Volodymyr Kubijovyč, was sanctioned by the German authorities.
Although most of the leaders of the Western Ukrainian parties had fled to the Generalgouvernement, conditions there prevented them from engaging openly in political activity. Only the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), headed by Roman Sushko, was tolerated initially by the Germans because of its prewar anti-Polish activity. In February 1940 the OUN split into two factions—one supporting the strategy and tactics of the émigré leadership, headed since August 1939 by Andrii Melnyk, and the other supporting the positions of those who had directed the revolutionary struggle against the Poles in Western Ukraine, headed by Stepan Bandera. In June 1941, on the eve of the German-Soviet War, both factions tried to consolidate the existing Ukrainian political forces in order to lead them in a war against the USSR and thereby establish an independent Ukraine.
Between 17 and 23 September 1939 the Soviets occupied Western Volhynia and Galicia. Soviet-style elections to a People's Assembly of Western Ukraine were held on 22 October. After the assembly ‘requested the reunification of Western Ukraine with the Ukrainian SSR,’ a policy of wholesale Sovietization was introduced, accompanied by the mass arrests of Ukrainian leaders who had not managed to flee and the suppression of all Ukrainian national institutions and organizations. With the Soviet occupation, Polish domination of state and administrative institutions ceased, and Ukrainians flooded into the towns and began Ukrainianizing them. These changes, however, did not compensate for the general anti-Ukrainian Soviet oppression and terror that ensued. The Soviet authorities also deported many Polish colonists and Jews to the east.
The USSR occupied Romanian-held northern Bukovyna and Bessarabia on 28 June 1940, and on 2 August they were officially incorporated into the Soviet Union. The changes that ensued there were analogous to those in Western Ukraine, and the Ukrainian language replaced Romanian as the official language.
The German invasion of the USSR on 22 June 1941 revealed Soviet weaknesses and the lack of popular support for the Soviet regime, especially in Ukraine. Many Soviet soldiers deserted, many more surrendered en masse, and the Germans rapidly advanced eastwards, occupying practically all of Ukraine by the end of 1941. Caught unprepared, the Soviets retreated in a disorganized fashion beyond the Urals. The NKVD executed about 15,000 political prisoners in Lviv, Zolochiv, Rivne, Lutsk, and elsewhere. Taking advantage of the German halt on the Dnipro River, Soviet authorities destroyed industrial and government buildings, food reserves, and railroads. Berdychiv, central Kyiv (including Khreshchatyk boulevard), most of Kharkiv, and the Dnipro Hydroelectric Station were blown up, mines in the Donbas were flooded, and Ukraine generally suffered considerably as a result of this scorched earth strategy.
At the outset of the war, the government of the Ukrainian SSR and many institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR were evacuated to Ufa. For the next few years, in an attempt to gain popular support, some concessions were made to Ukrainian patriotism, including the publication of more objective accounts of Ukrainian history and more Ukrainian-language works in general.
Galicia became a district of the Generalgouvernement on 1 August 1941; most of Ukraine became part of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine on 20 August. Romania reoccupied northern Bukovyna, part of Bessarabia, and Transnistria on 19 August; and Transcarpathia remained under Hungarian rule.
Before the invasion, the OUN (Bandera faction) had organized the Legion of Ukrainian Nationalists (Nachtigall and Roland) to fight against the Bolsheviks, and during the invasion both factions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists sent OUN expeditionary groups composed of Western Ukrainians and émigrés into central and eastern Ukraine to rebuild Ukrainian political and cultural life there.
On 30 June 1941, the OUN (Bandera faction) issued the Proclamation of Ukrainian statehood, 1941, in Lviv and formed the Ukrainian State Administration headed by Yaroslav Stetsko. In early July, however, the Germans arrested the administration’s members and proceeded to suppress the Bandera faction and to send its members to concentration camps. Some German jurisdictions, however, notably Rosenberg’s Ostministerium and the Abwehr, did not take such a hard line against the Banderites and protected some of its activists.
Another Ukrainian national council—the Ukrainian National Council in Lviv, 1941—had been created in July 1941 under the aegis of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky and headed by Kost Levytsky; it represented the Ukrainians before the German authorities and strongly protested the incorporation of Galicia into the Generalgouvernement until it was banned in March 1942. In September 1941 the Germans allowed the Ukrainian Regional Committee, headed by Kost K. Pankivsky, to function as an umbrella body; in March 1942 its functions were taken over by the Ukrainian Central Committee in Cracow, and Pankivsky became Volodymyr Kubijovyč’s closest associate.
On 19 September the Germans occupied Kyiv. In October Oleh Olzhych and other members of the OUN (Melnyk faction) formed a Ukrainian National Council (Kyiv) under Mykola Velychkivsky there as the Ukrainian political-civic center. In December the Germans suppressed the council, arrested the leading nationalists (including Olena Teliha, Mykhailo Teliha, Ivan Rohach, Ivan Irliavsky, and Orest Chemerynsky), whom they executed in February 1942, and forced the Melnyk faction to go underground.
The larger part of Ukraine—the Reichskommissariat Ukraine—was under the tyrannous rule of Erich Koch. Based in Rivne, he pursued a policy of terror and extreme exploitation of the population, which was deemed subhuman. The Germans retained the Soviet collective farm system there until 1943, forbade private trade (except for local markets and co-operatives), and generally took as much food and raw materials from Ukraine as they could. Most cultural institutions and organizations were soon suppressed, and only four-year elementary schools were allowed to function. The press (about 115 periodicals) was German-run or strictly controlled. Although some German circles had been crucial in launching the revived Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church, the administration of the Reichskommissariat did not support it and protected the existence of the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox church, which was nominally subordinated to the Moscow patriarch.
During the German occupation, 6.8 million people were killed in Ukraine, of whom about 1.4 million were Jews and 1.4 million were Soviet military personnel killed at the front or starved to death in prisoner of war camps. From February 1942, more than 2 million Ukrainians were deported as slave laborers to Germany (see Ostarbeiter). Nazi destruction and terror in Ukraine (see Nazi war crimes in Ukraine) provoked general hostility and gave rise to political and military resistance. Nationalist partisans in Volhynia had organized the so-called Polisian Sich, renamed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), under the command of Taras Borovets (Bulba) to fight the retreating Soviet Army after the invasion. From the spring of 1942 they were fighting both the Germans and Soviet partisans in Ukraine, 1941–5.
After the Germans’ defeat at Stalingrad in January 1943, armed resistance in Ukraine increased significantly. The OUN (Bandera faction) became an important partisan force when thousands of Ukrainian auxiliary policemen deserted the Germans to join its resistance movement in the spring of 1943. The Banderites was able to disarm the partisans supporting Taras Borovets and the OUN (Melnyk faction), and took the name of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) for its own partisan units, which were under the command of Roman Shukhevych. Having forced the Germans to abandon the Volhynian countryside, in May 1943 the UPA expanded into Galicia to defeat the Soviet-partisan offensive under Sydir Kovpak and to continue fighting the Germans as well as the guerrillas of the Polish Home Army. In July 1944 the UPA commanders initiated the creation of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council as the political leadership of the pan-Ukrainian national underground, which continued its struggle against Communist rule and oppression until the 1950s and propagated a democratic program adopted by the OUN (Bandera faction) in 1943.
By mid-1943, the Soviet offensive forced the Germans to begin their retreat from Ukraine. In Left-Bank Ukraine the Germans engaged in wholesale destruction, ruining Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Kremenchuk, Kyiv, and other cities. By spring 1944 the front was in Western Ukraine, and in July the Division Galizien, a Ukrainian formation in the German armed forces created in 1943 and conceived by the Ukrainian organizers as the nucleus of the future army in an independent Ukraine, was largely destroyed at the Battle of Brody. By the end of October 1944, all Ukrainian territory was again in Soviet hands.
In autumn 1944, when almost all of Ukraine had been reoccupied by the USSR, the Germans began changing their attitude to the Ukrainian question and released political leaders, including Stepan Bandera, Andrii Melnyk, Yaroslav Stetsko, and Taras Borovets, from concentration camps. In March 1945 they recognized the Ukrainian National Committee (UNK) under the leadership of Gen Pavlo Shandruk, Volodymyr Kubijovyč, and Oleksander Semenenko as the representative body of the Ukrainians in the Third Reich. The UNK, however, was unable to do much apart from saving the remnants of the Division Galizien and uniting them with other Ukrainian formations in the German military (eg, the Ukrainian Liberation Army) to create a Ukrainian National Army, which surrendered to the British after Germany capitulated.
The Stalin period. Throughout the war, the Soviet propaganda machine used German excesses and atrocities to its advantage while propagating the idea of the ‘Great Patriotic War against fascist aggression.’ It also attracted sympathy for the Soviet cause among the Ukrainians by focusing on developments on the ‘Ukrainian fronts’ and fostered antipathy for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists by portraying them as Nazi collaborators. The Soviet constitution was modified in February 1944, granting Ukraine the right to have direct relations with other countries and its own republican military formations; and again in April 1945 after the Western powers acceded to Moscow’s demand that Soviet Ukraine be recognized as an independent state and a founding member of the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference. (See also International legal status of Ukraine and International organizations.) Meanwhile Soviet terror mounted against the nationalist enemies of the USSR in Ukraine and in Soviet-occupied Europe, as well as against other ‘traitors’—Soviet soldiers who had surrendered to the Germans and Soviet citizens who were Ostarbeiter.
After the war, major territorial and population changes occurred in Ukraine. On 29 June 1945, Czechoslovakia ceded Carpatho-Ukraine to the USSR. On 16 August the Polish-Soviet border was established, leaving some Ukrainian ethnic territories in Poland. The Romanian-Soviet border was confirmed in the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 as the one created in June 1940. As a result of the war, the population of Ukraine had declined by some 10.5 million (25 percent): 6.8 million had been killed or died of hunger or disease, and the remainder consisted of those who had been evacuated or deported as political prisoners to Soviet Asia and remained there and those who had been slave laborers (Ostarbeiter) and émigrés in the Third Reich and chose to remain in the West as displaced persons. The national composition of Ukraine’s population changed radically during the war. Most Jews had been annihilated during the Nazi Holocaust, and most Germans who had lived in Ukraine retreated with the German army. After the war, in 1945–7 over 800,000 Poles living in Western Ukraine were resettled in Poland, and over 500,000 Ukrainians living in Poland’s eastern borderlands were resettled in Ukraine (see Resettlement). There also occurred a large in-migration of Russians into Ukrainian cities and towns, including those of Western Ukraine, and a new period of Russification began. In the immediate postwar years thousands of Ukrainians, mainly in Western Ukraine, were tried for their political or religious activity and sent to concentration camps. About 1.3 million slave laborers in Germany were subjected to forcible repatriation to Ukraine; because they had had contact with the non-Soviet world, 300,000 of them were deported to Siberia, while the rest underwent political re-education.
The most pressing task faced by the Soviet regime was the reconstruction of the economy, which had been devastated during the war: 16,000 industrial enterprises, 2,000 railway stations, 28,000 collective farms, 872 state farms, 714 cities and towns, 28,000 villages, and 2 million buildings had been destroyed; 10 million people had been left homeless. More than 12 million t of agricultural products, over 14 million head of cattle and sheep, and a large amount of agricultural machinery had been taken to Germany. The Fourth Five-Year Plan (1946–50) allotted 20 percent of Soviet capital investment for the reconstruction of Ukraine; over 2,000 plants and the electric power system were rebuilt and expanded, and the natural gas industry was developed in Western Ukraine. Agriculture was revived more slowly, because of the opposition to collectivization in Western Ukraine, the lack of farm machinery, population dislocation, and a drought in 1946. The refusal of Soviet authorities to lower agricultural procurement quotas in Ukraine at this time spurred the onset of the Famine of 1946–7.
The Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR (CM) replaced the Council of People's Commissars as the government in March 1946, and the CP(B)U first secretary from 1938, Nikita Khrushchev, also became its first chairman. Moscow replaced him as first secretary in March 1947 with Lazar Kaganovich, who proceeded to purge ‘nationalists’ from the ranks of the Ukrainian cultural intelligentsia. In December 1947, however, Khrushchev was again appointed first secretary only to be replaced in December 1949 by Leonid Melnikov, who in 1949–52 had 22,175 members (3 percent) of the CP(B)U expelled for ‘nationalism.’ From 1947 to 1954 the CM chairman was Demian Korotchenko.
During the years that Andrei Zhdanov and his ideas dominated Soviet cultural policy (1946–53), the few Ukrainian cultural and scholarly achievements of the Second World War were condemned as ‘bourgeois nationalist’ and suppressed. Members of various scholarly institutes and journal editorial boards were removed; works by prominent writers (eg, Volodymyr Sosiura, Yurii Yanovsky, Andrii Malyshko, Oleksander Dovzhenko) who were praised for their national patriotism during the war were criticized; and books on Ukrainian history and literature published during the war were condemned and removed from circulation. Cultural and linguistic Russification was stepped up, particularly in newly annexed Western Ukraine.
The greatest repression during the last years of the Stalin period took place in Western Ukraine and was directed against members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Ukrainian Insurgent Army and Division Galizien, and Ukrainian Catholic church (see History of the Ukrainian church). At the Lviv Sobor of 1946, the Church Union of Berestia of 1596 was formally abolished against a background of terror directed at the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy and clergy.
The postwar émigrés. After the war over 200,000 Ukrainian displaced persons in the Allied zones of Germany and Austria who had not been forcibly repatriated chose not to return to the USSR, most of them for political reasons. From 1947 to 1952 the vast majority immigrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Brazil, and Argentina (see also Emigration). These new immigrants reactivated prewar émigré and prewar Western Ukrainian organizations, institutions, and parties and formed new political parties. Except for the Hetmanite movement, the parties co-operated from June 1948 in the new Ukrainian National Council of the Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic. The Foreign Representation of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, founded in 1944, also promoted the Ukrainian national cause in the West. In 1967 a new body, the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, was established to co-ordinate the civic and cultural activities of the Ukrainian emigration.
De-Stalinization in Ukraine, 1953–9. After Joseph Stalin died on 5 March 1953, a slow liberalization and decentralization process began in the USSR. The campaign against Ukrainian nationalism and Zionism subsided and in June 1953 Leonid Melnikov was accused of excessive Russification and replaced as CPU first secretary by Oleksii Kyrychenko, the first Ukrainian to occupy the post since 1922.
On the occasion of the tricentenary of the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 and the subsequent ‘reunification’ of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples in 1954 Nikita Khrushchev arranged the transfer of the Crimea from the RSFSR to Ukraine.
Ukrainian representation in leading Party and government positions was increased; thus by 1 June 1954, 72 percent of the CPU Central Committee, 75 percent of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR, and 51 percent of the directors of large industrial enterprises were Ukrainian.
After the war, thousands of Western Ukrainian community leaders, members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and Ukrainian Catholic clergy and faithful were sent to Soviet concentration camps, where they were subjected to arbitrarily harsh and inhumane treatment. They responded by organizing labor strikes, which were brutally and ruthlessly suppressed. Hundreds of Ukrainians were thus killed in the camps of Vorkuta and Norilsk in the Soviet Arctic in 1953 and Kingir, Kazakhstan, in 1954. The mass unrest, coupled with widespread expectations of change after Stalin’s death, prompted the Soviet government to declare a political amnesty on 18 September 1955, and in 1956 many Ukrainians were released.
From 1955, descriptions of and protests against the excesses of the Soviet regime, concerning especially the oppression of the Ukrainian nation, were circulated by way of unofficial, uncensored documents and writings (samvydav). The first such document was the ‘Open Letter to the Ukrainian National Republic’ from Ukrainian political prisoners in the camps of Mordovia. The Ukrainian intelligentsia and students began demanding cultural and intellectual freedom and social change. At the same time the crimes of the Stalin ‘personality cult’ were officially condemned by Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th CPSU Congress in 1956, and the Party officially adopted a policy of de-Stalinization. During the cultural ‘thaw’ that followed and until 1959, the Ukrainian intelligentsia fought for and achieved a relaxation of censorship and educational, cultural, and language policy, and the ‘rehabilitation’ of many Ukrainian cultural figures and intellectuals banned or destroyed during the Terror.
The regime made other concessions to the Ukrainians. It lowered taxes, allowed peasants more freedom in using their private plots of land, and improved food supplies in the cities. A republican Ministry of Higher Education, Academy of Construction and Architecture of the Ukrainian SSR, Ukrainian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Union of Journalists of the Ukrainian SSR were established. Economic decentralization was carried out, and the Ukrainian government assumed control of 10,000 industrial enterprises. Official attitudes towards religion hardened, however, and by 1961 a renewed antireligious propaganda campaign had resulted in the liquidation of about half of all existing religious institutions: parishes, monasteries, seminaries.
Hopes that the liberalization would continue were dashed in 1958, when Nikita Khrushchev made the teaching of non-Russian languages optional in Russian schools in Ukraine and propaganda in favor of the Russian language was stepped up. In 1957 Mykola Pidhirny had replaced Oleksii Kyrychenko as first secretary. In 1959 Andrii Skaba was given the task of tightening Party control over ideological work in Ukraine, and a new campaign against ‘bourgeois nationalism’ and ‘Zionism’ began.
Ukraine in the 1960s. Despite the regime’s efforts to the contrary, the ‘thaw’ radicalized an entire postwar generation and inspired it to continue demanding changes in cultural and nationality policy and criticizing Russification and the ‘fusion of nations’ concept in the 1961 CPSU program. The foremost representatives of this new generation—the writers, publicists, and artists known as ‘the Sixtiers’ (see Shistdesiatnyky) —called for a return to truth, which brought them into conflict with the older generation of writers and officials who had risen under Joseph Stalin. In 1962 the Party decided that dissent had to be stopped, and in 1963 the shistdesiatnyky and their ideas were publicly denounced. The intimidation and persecution silenced some of them, but others became more politicized and actively participated in the opposition campaign that erupted and continued throughout the 1960s (see Dissident movement). It was expressed in the form of petitions, protests, demonstrations, samvydav literature, workers’ strikes, and even illegal political groups with secessionist programs.
In 1965 the first wave of arrests of Ukrainian dissidents (Bohdan Horyn, Mykhailo Horyn, Ivan Hel, Opanas Zalyvakha, Sviatoslav Karavansky, Valentyn Moroz, Mykhailo Osadchy, Anatolii Shevchuk, and others) took place, and the first major analytical dissident document—Ivan Dziuba’s Internationalism or Russification?—was written. Viacheslav Chornovil distributed a commentary on the political trials of 20 dissidents, for which he himself was imprisoned in 1967–9.
From 1963 to 1972 Petro Shelest was the CPU first secretary. He defended the economic interests of Ukraine, and sided with the critics of Russification and the defenders of Ukrainian language and culture who spoke out at the Fifth Congress of the Writers' Union of Ukraine in 1966. Under Shelest a new variant of ‘Ukrainization’ was promoted: teaching in Ukrainian in institutions of higher education was expanded; more books in Ukrainian (including encyclopedias of Ukraine) were published; the study of Ukrainian history was encouraged and new historical journals appeared; and the press published many articles of a patriotic nature.
Ukraine in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1964 Leonid Brezhnev replaced Nikita Khrushchev and reasserted Moscow’s centralist and Russification policies. Under him the KGB resolutely persecuted the dissident movement throughout the USSR. In Ukraine this persecution culminated in a second wave of arrests in 1972. That same year Petro Shelest was replaced by the more subservient Volodymyr Shcherbytsky. From that time Shcherbytsky remained firmly in control in Ukraine until 1989 and followed Moscow’s directives, purging the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, and Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in 1973, suppressing the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and any other manifestations of political or religious dissent, and implementing Russification policies in education and scholarship. Leadership changes in Moscow after Brezhnev’s death in 1982 did not fundamentally alter this course until the perestroika period begun in mid-1980s.
Orest Subtelny, Marko Robert Stech, Arkadii Zhukovsky
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989); it was expanded and last updated in 2023.]
History of Ukraine (continued). Under Leonid Brezhnev’s aging successors Yurii Andropov (1982–4) and Konstantin Chernenko (1984–5) it became increasingly clear that the repressive, corrupt regime established by Brezhnev (whose tenure has been characterized as ‘the period of stagnation’) was leading the USSR into bankruptcy. After assuming power in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to revive the ailing economy by a program of restructuring (perestroika) at home and a reduction of armaments and tensions abroad. But economic reforms threatened the existing power structure and could succeed only if extensive political reforms were introduced. Furthermore, the Chornobyl nuclear disaster (26 April 1986) and its mishandling by the authorities undermined public confidence not only in Soviet technology but also in the Party, the central government in Moscow, and the old guard led by Volodymyr Shcherbytsky in Kyiv. The disaster convinced even many members of the privileged Soviet elite that the existing political system and its corrupt leadership endangered the very survival of the people.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost (openness) led to increasingly bolder criticism of the Communist Party, the government, and Soviet society and demands for faster and more radical reform. Nonofficial and uncensored publications began to circulate widely, and unofficial organizations (see Neformaly) sprang up to address cultural needs. National movements calling for greater local autonomy and less control from Moscow emerged in the Baltic and Caucasian republics and set an example for Ukraine. Recently released political prisoners reactivated the Ukrainian Helsinki Group at the end of 1987 and had reorganized it by mid-1988 into a broad political organization, the Ukrainian Helsinki Union, which spearheaded the national movement in Ukraine. The first unsanctioned public rallies were held in Kyiv and Lviv in the summer of 1988.
Elections to the new USSR Congress of People’s Deputies were held in March 1989. Although only a third of the deputies were elected by direct popular vote, some outspoken critics of the government won seats in the congress and turned it into a forum of debate over important issues. By September Volodymyr Ivashko replaced Volodymyr Shcherbytsky as first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine (albeit for only a brief period). The Popular Movement of Ukraine (aka Rukh) was founded to unify the various streams of the national movement. In response to strong public protest the electoral law for the coming elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR in March 1990 was changed to make the election of all deputies subject to direct voting. Although the democratic movement lacked financial means and was poorly organized, it captured over a fifth of the seats in the Supreme Soviet and overwhelming majorities on the oblast and city councils in the three western oblasts of Ukraine (Lviv oblast, Ternopil oblast, and Ivano-Frankivsk oblast). Upon forming the National Council the 125 democratic deputies used the live radio and TV coverage of the parliamentary proceedings to raise the political consciousness of the Ukrainian people. A number of political parties appeared. On 16 July 1990 the parliament passed the Declaration on the State Sovereignty of Ukraine, which asserted the precedence of Ukrainian laws over Union laws and signaled Ukraine’s intention to form its own army, create a banking system, and issue its own currency. A student hunger strike in October, the so-called Revolution on Granite, forced the resignation of Prime Minister Vitalii Masol. In November the chairmen of the Ukrainian and Russian parliaments, Leonid Kravchuk and Boris Yeltsin, signed a 10-year co-operation agreement between the two sovereign republics. To preserve the USSR, reactionary forces unleashed violence in the Baltic republics, which had declared their independence, and the Communist majority in the Ukrainian parliament passed undemocratic restrictions on political expression. In Ukraine there were protests in support of independent Lithuania and against Ukraine’s signing of a new Union treaty. To build pressure for maintaining the Union, the central authorities held an all-Union referendum. In Ukraine 70 percent of the voters approved a new union of sovereign states, but at the same time 80 percent supported sovereignty as defined in the act of 16 July 1990. Negotiations between the central government and the sovereign republics continued until they were disrupted by the attempted coup of 19–21 August in Moscow. In the wake of that event the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR proclaimed Ukraine’s independence on 24 August 1991, subject to a popular referendum to be held in December. Two days later the Supreme Soviet suspended the activities of the CPU, and shortly afterwards it banned the Communist party altogether. On 1 December 1991 over 90 percent of the voters confirmed the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence and elected Leonid Kravchuk the first president of the new state, Ukraine. Ukraine was recognized immediately by Poland, Canada, Hungary, the Russian Federation, and the Baltic states. The referendum sealed the fate of the Soviet Union: without Ukraine a meaningful federation was not possible. On 8 December Ukraine, Belarus (formerly Belorussia), and the Russian Federation formed a Commonwealth of Independent States and declared the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Vasyl Markus, Ihor Stebelsky
[This text originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine as part of the article “Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic,” vol. 5 (1993).]
Independent Ukraine after 1991
At the beginning of 1992, Ukraine had independence, yet was unprepared for it: its constitution, governing institutions, and political elite had all been carried over from the Soviet era. There had been no revolution. Nor was Ukraine well equipped for the practice of liberal democracy: it had no political parties clearly representing societal interests, no rule of law or impartial public service, and no program for the transition to a new system of government. The lack of experience with democratic politics made itself apparent through the following decades rendering Ukraine vulnerable to instability, both domestically and externally.
Faced with the practical challenge of a four-pronged transition (economic, democratic, nation-building, and international statehood), newly-elected President Leonid Kravchuk opted to emphasize state-building ahead of other reforms. Economic reform was made difficult because the Supreme Council of Ukraine, Ukraine’s national assembly, was dominated by communists strongly opposed to capitalism. Elected in 1990, its contingent of national democrats advocating marketization and liberalization, even though well-organized, was in the minority. The political spectrum, therefore, was ill-defined and confused: the former communists, supposedly on the left, were now actually on the right opposing fundamental change; the democrats, advocating change and integration into the capitalist West were actually on the left, but their nationalist posture placed them on the right. Not immediately dissolving the Supreme Council of Ukraine and calling fresh elections was probably a serious mistake on Kravchuk’s part which stalled both the democratic and economic transition of post-communist Ukraine.
The Kravchuk administration’s hesitant approach to economic reform led to a marked deterioration of the country’s economy (including hyperinflation of 5,371 per cent in 1993) which in turn led to dissatisfaction expressed inside and outside the parliament. In October 1992, Vitold Fokin was therefore replaced as prime minister by Leonid Kuchma who was given special powers for six months to implement economic reforms. His efforts were frustrated, however, by the communist deputies in the Supreme Council of Ukraine who objected to measures such as the cutting of subsidies to factories and collective farms. A miners’ strike in June 1993 was settled by wage increases and income tax cuts. Greater subsidies to the Donbas region further aggravated the budget deficit and caused the country’s currency, the karbovanets, to collapse. In September 1993, parliament finally concurred in a vote of no confidence in the government, and Kuchma resigned to be replaced by Yukhym Zviahilsky, an ex-miner and political boss from Donetsk.
The relationship between president and parliament in Leonid Kravchuk’s time was characterized by conflict. In part, this was a residue of the Soviet dogma of an all-powerful assembly which provided for no separation of powers. The notion persisted especially among communist deputies motivating them instinctively to oppose presidential initiatives. Fragmentation within the Supreme Council of Ukraine, and the lack of programmatic bases for the numerous fractions made support for economic reform particularly weak. It also undermined effective organization of the assembly’s work. The only discernible alignment was pro- and anti-presidential. In the circumstances, Kravchuk attempted to accumulate more power so as to overwhelm parliamentary opposition and inertia. He issued a decree in which he took direct charge of the government, effectively fusing the functions of president and prime minister. The more Kravchuk tried to strengthen the presidency, the more it convinced others of the need for a stronger assembly as counterweight. The proper balance of presidential and parliamentary powers was never subsequently resolved in Ukrainian politics and the relationship between the two institutions continued to be one of confrontation rather than collaborative cooperation.
There was an increase in crime and corruption as well as an intertwining of crime with politics. Corruption ran rampant as the economy collapsed and as authority to deal with it remained amorphous. Government officials and parliamentary deputies were implicated. A committee to coordinate crime-fighting was set up directly under the president himself, confirming law enforcement agencies’ ineffectiveness.
A law on state service, passed by the Supreme Council of Ukraine, meant mostly to assure sinecures or golden parachutes for parliamentarians about to retire, to subordinate all government employees to central control, and to resurrect the nomenklatura patronage system of personnel management now under the president, prime minister, and heads of government departments. Instead of policies the three principal institutions—president, cabinet of ministers, and Supreme Council of Ukraine—produced a blizzard of edicts, laws, decrees, and instructions. There was no coordination, division of labor, or monitoring of execution accompanying this feverish activity. Nor was the rule of law established by it. The judicial system continued as a carryover from Soviet days—unreformed and politicized.
Parliamentary elections in March 1994 failed to clarify the preferences of the Ukrainian electorate or to distinguish government-supporting parties from those in opposition. After two rounds of voting the Soviet-style double-majoritarian electoral system resulted in the following seat allocation: a plurality (123) for the communists and their allies; 114 so-called independents; 63 democrats; 40 centrists; 12 radical nationalists; 8 left-of-centre; and 113 vacancies. Only 56 of the previous parliament’s deputies managed to be re-elected. By-elections to fill remaining vacancies held in the ensuing years left voters indifferent and exhausted. Altogether 20 parties won representation, they were reduced to nine officially recognized caucuses (known as fractions and groups). With the communists in a dominant position within the chamber, and no common axis for the political spectrum along which parties could arrange themselves, the prospects for a reform agenda were inauspicious. This was even more apparent when Vitalii Masol, Soviet Ukraine’s last head of its state planning commission, was chosen as prime minister. A former CPU official, Oleksandr Moroz, now leader of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, was elected speaker of the Supreme Council. The dominance of the so-called left (leftovers really) in the assembly foreshadowed continued conflict with the executive as well as a slow pace of economic reform and privatization.
With support from the national-democrats, Leonid Kravchuk adopted an increasingly nationalist stance defending Ukraine’s independence and promoting Ukrainianization within government. On this very basis, however, he lost the July 1994 presidential election to Leonid Kuchma, the ex-prime minister and former missile plant manager from Dnipropetrovsk, who appealed to voters craving greater stability through closer ties to the Russian Federation. In spite of his campaign image as pro-Russian and anti-reform, Kuchma showed himself to be a pragmatic reformer with a keen appreciation for cultivating strong ties to the West. With International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G7 support, he pushed through parliament in October 1994 a comprehensive reform package which had previously been blocked. It included price liberalization, reduction of state subsidies, overhaul of taxes, and accelerated privatization including land ownership. Western experts saw this as the beginning of Ukraine’s economic recovery.
Unlike the chronic deadlock which had characterized his predecessor’s term, the new president’s relationship with parliament was marked by compromise in addition to struggle. While parliament dragged its heels and sometimes opposed the president, it usually went along with his initiatives. Kuchma, for his part, also accommodated or anticipated the parliamentarians’ reactions. His approach was, at least initially, slow and steady, but determined. He made no significant changes to his government until the spring of 1995, replacing Vitalii Masol as prime minister with Yevhen Marchuk, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine. In the fall of 1995, the majority of his cabinet of ministers was composed of nomenklatura alumni well-schooled in patron-clientelism if not in Weberian ideals of public service and public administration.
Besides economic policy the other area in which Leonid Kuchma distinguished himself from his predecessor was in fighting crime and corruption, at least to judge by his appointment of law enforcement professionals to cabinet positions, including Yurii Kravchenko as interior minister (responsible for the police). Although the president himself warned of the danger of Ukraine’s turning into a police state, the brutality inflicted by police on the tragicomic funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr (Vasyl Romaniuk) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate in July 1995, suggested that it had already become one. Kuchma’s pursuit of corrupt politicians was frustrated by the Supreme Council of Ukraine’s determined adherence to the principle of parliamentary immunity, as in the case of ex-prime minister Yukhym Zviahilsky, accused while in office of embezzling $25 million in state funds before fleeing to Israel. Parliamentarians were also unhelpful to Kuchma’s efforts by forcing successive prosecutors-general to resign and be replaced.
Inflation was brought under control and there was a measure of improvement, thanks to the efforts of Viktor Yushchenko, head of the National Bank of Ukraine. The hryvnia was introduced as the national currency in September 1996. But major steps toward privatization were stymied by the Supreme Council of Ukraine which continued to expand the state budget. Believing that the undisciplined parliament needed to be brought under presidential control, Kuchma did so through a series of constitutionally questionable if not invalid measures. In July 1995, after being threatened with a referendum by Kuchma, the Supreme Council adopted the Law on Power, effectively placing cabinet of ministers and parliament under the president. Similarly, the 1996 Constitution of Ukraine, which enhanced the president’s power with respect to parliament, was also passed through his coercion.
The 1998 parliamentary elections were conducted under a mixed electoral system: one half of the assembly chosen by proportional representation (PR); the other, in single-member simple-plurality (SMSP or SMD for short) constituencies. It failed to produce a clear majority or possible coalition of like-minded parties. The Peasant Party of Ukraine leader, Oleksandr Tkachenko, was eventually elected speaker, but his majority almost immediately evaporated with no new one to replace it. Dominated by a plurality of communist deputies, the Supreme Council of Ukraine was otherwise an arena of great political uncertainty having eight parties represented with an additional 140 so-called independent deputies (the Ukrainian term for MPs) elected in SMDs. The election result ensured continued retardation of reforms, ineffectiveness of parliament, and loss of public trust in the institution.
Having defeated Petro Symonenko, the Communist Party of Ukraine leader, in the 1999 presidential election, Leonid Kuchma continued his pursuit of a superpresidential system for Ukraine. The following year, he organized a referendum the questions in which were overwhelmingly approved in his favour by the electorate. On this basis, Kuchma threatened to amend the constitution by going around it so as to consolidate his position.
In the background to this ongoing contest for supremacy at the apex of political power were several subsidiary processes antithetical to the establishment of a stable democracy. Among them: a burgeoning level of corruption prominently exemplified by the case of former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko; increasing presidential control over the mass media; a growing combination of politics with business for mutual advantage which even included many former communists no longer afraid of capitalism; and liberal application of “administrative resources” to influence results of elections and parliamentary votes in favor of the president and his allies. All of this suggested the development of a patronal political system in which all depended on the whim of one man—President Leonid Kuchma.
The disappearance of a journalist, Heorhii Gongadze, in September 2000, the discovery of his headless body, and the revelation of tape recordings implicating the president in his murder, however, sparked a public backlash against Kuchma’s style of governing. The scandal spawned a “Ukraine without Kuchma” movement which failed in its objective due to forceful measures taken by the president against the protest and its leaders.
Parliamentary elections held in 2002, conducted on the same “mixed” basis as in 1998, were a judgment on Kuchma’s presidency. The pro-presidential electoral alliance, For a United Ukraine, took second place to another alliance, Our Ukraine, led by Kuchma’s former (1999–2001) prime minister Viktor Yushchenko. After the election, by means of bribery and coercion, a pro-presidential majority coalition was formed under Volodymyr Lytvyn. This set the stage for the 2004 presidential election and Orange Revolution, in which Yushchenko eventually defeated the establishment’s candidate, Viktor Yanukovych.
While Viktor Yushchenko emerged as symbolizing a victory over the Kuchma regime, he failed to consolidate his position or to reinforce the country’s pro-reform and pro-Western orientation. Following the inauguration of Yushchenko, Yuliia Tymoshenko, his erstwhile ally in the Orange Revolution, was installed as prime minister. By at the same time appointing Petro Poroshenko as head of the Council for National Security and Defense (RNBOU), where he set about creating a parallel government, conflict between the two was guaranteed. A further contest ensued for the spoils of office involving oligarchs, cabinet ministers, and presidential staff. Due to this infighting, the “Orange Coalition” collapsed in October 2005. In an effort to end the feuding, Yushchenko dismissed nearly everyone, including Tymoshenko. This adversely affected the presidential party’s (Our Ukraine’s) standing in the polls.
In January 2006, the constitutional changes agreed by Viktor Yushchenko in December 2004, weakening the presidency, took effect. In the March 2006 parliamentary elections, conducted under the fully PR system, Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions based in eastern Ukraine took first place (186 seats), Yuliia Tymoshenko’s bloc was second (129), and Our Ukraine a distant third (81). The communists were in last place. Yushchenko’s nemesis, Yanukovych, was therefore named prime minister in October 2006. The Party of Regions government under Yanukovych proceeded to oppose the president at every step while engaging in clientelistic politics reminiscent of the mafia.
To reassert his dominance Yushchenko dissolved parliament and scheduled new elections. These were held in September 2007, resulting in a loss of 11 seats for the Party of Regions (despite an increased percentage of the vote), a gain of 27 for Tymoshenko’s bloc, and a loss of 9 for Our Ukraine–People’s Self-Defence. Another Orange government was formed with Tymoshenko as prime minister, but antagonism between her and the president continued to grow.
In 2008, Ukraine was admitted into the World Trade Organization (ahead of the Russian Federation), but at the same time was adversely affected by both the war in Georgia as well as the global financial crisis. The domestic war, meanwhile, between the Viktor Yushchenko and Yuliia Tymoshenko camps carried on despite external threats and crises. Another gas crisis occurred in January 2009, launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which was resolved by an agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tymoshenko.
The next presidential election was held in January 2010. Eliminated in the first round with only 5.5 per cent of the vote, Viktor Yushchenko campaigned against Yuliia Tymoshenko in the second round which she lost with 45.5 per cent to Viktor Yanukovych’s 48.9. Tymoshenko was ousted as prime minister prematurely and replaced by Mykola Azarov, Yanukovych’s ally.
Viktor Yanukovych proceeded to strengthen presidential power as well as ties with the Russian Federation. The Kharkiv Pact of April 2010 extended for 25 years RF’s lease of the Sevastopol base for its Black Sea Fleet. In exchange, Ukraine received a discount on the price of gas. A compliant Constitutional Court of Ukraine in October 2010 restored on questionable grounds the pre-2004 constitution giving the president greater powers. Under Yanukovych, democracy suffered a distinct setback as the president engaged in unrestrained political persecutions (starting with Yuliia Tymoshenko, jailed in 2011) and personal enrichment with himself at the head of a pyramid of corruption.
By the time of the 2012 parliamentary elections, rampant corruption had put an end to economic growth. To lessen the impact of the consequent wrath of voters and for the deputies to stay in power, the “mixed” electoral system was restored, since patronage and buckwheat worked better in SMDs. Yuliia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party (with her still in prison) won second place and formed a coalition led by Arsenii Yatseniuk.
On the international scene, negotiations with the European Union on trade had been launched by Viktor Yushchenko in 2008. After 2012, when Ukraine co-hosted the European Championship football finals, these intensified. By November 2013, Ukraine was about to sign a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, but negotiations were abruptly halted. The Russian Federation had meanwhile dissuaded Viktor Yanukovych from closer relations with the EU by engaging in an artificial trade war and by offering as incentive a loan of $15 billion to deal with economic difficulties. This deferral of the chance for a European future, on top of general dissatisfaction with Yanukovych’s rule, caused protest demonstrations which grew into the Euromaidan Revolution (also known as the Revolution of Dignity). On Vladimir Putin’s advice Yanukovych attempted to use force, but the momentum was unstoppable. As the clashes between security personnel and protesters escalated into violence resulting in casualties, leading politicians and oligarchs—including President Yanukovych—departed for safety in the Russian Federation. His prime minister, Mykola Azarov, fled to Austria. An agreement negotiated with EU representatives but not signed by RF’s representative restored the 2004 constitution, established a government of national unity, and provided for new elections.
Labelling the change of government in Kyiv a coup, the Russian Federation invaded the Crimea on the pretext of shielding the population from “nationalist” Ukrainian repression, installed a criminal as puppet premier, conducted an illegal referendum, and annexed the peninsula in contravention of international law. It then stimulated an artificial rebellion in the Luhansk oblast and Donetsk oblast in the Donets Basin, supported by the Russian army. The Ukrainian authorities attempted to take back control of the occupied Donbas region militarily, but had limited success owing to the rundown condition of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Russian Federation, referring to the Donbas conflict as a civil war, then pretended to act as honest broker pressing Kyiv to accept the terms of the Minsk I and II ceasefire agreements (which were wholly unfavourable to Ukraine) while simultaneously pursuing a war of aggression against its neighbour.
Following the Euromaidan Revolution, Petro Poroshenko was elected as president on the first ballot in May 2014. He promised change, but brought politics-as-usual with him into office. His major accomplishments were in invigorating the Ukrainian army to resist Russian encroachment and his diplomatic skills in attracting international support for Ukraine. Thus the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA and DCFTA) with the EU, which had sparked the Revolution of Dignity, came into force in January 2016. Technocrats from neighbouring countries were brought in to help restart reform efforts, including establishment of the National Police. But these soon departed when confronted with the country’s entrenched corruption and prevalent informal practices antithetical to the rule of law. Under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), new anti-corruption bodies were created, but their independence was undermined by the president’s efforts to place them under his control and to put them to political use. By the end of his term, public opinion held that the country was heading in the wrong direction. On the eve of the 2019 presidential election, Poroshenko secured from the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople, Bartholomew, a tomos authorizing establishment of an autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, achieved by merging the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church.
In October 2014, new elections to the Supreme Council of Ukraine produced a novel array of parties. Petro Poroshenko’s bloc came second to Arsenii Yatseniuk’s Popular Front. A totally new entity, Samopomich (Self-Help), came in third place, while Yuliia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party barely crossed the needed threshold. Yatseniuk thus became prime minister, from which post Poroshenko persistently attempted to oust him. Ultimately, in 2016, the president’s ally, Volodymyr Groisman, was appointed prime minister.
Like all but one of his predecessors, Poroshenko failed to be re-elected and was defeated in 2019 by Volodymyr Zelensky, a television producer and actor new to politics. In terms of peaceful transfer of power, Ukraine certainly by this time could be considered a democracy. Zelensky relied on his TV character as corruption fighter to propel him to office. He won 73.2 per cent of the vote in the second round. On assuming the presidency, Zelensky dissolved the Supreme Council of Ukraine and called new elections for July.
In these elections his Servant of the People party, named after the TV series, took 254 of 424 seats. The Opposition Platform—For Life came second with 43 seats, and Yuliia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party was third with 26. Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity lost 107 seats holding on only to 25—in fourth place, a clear indication of its lack of popularity. A new party, Holos (Voice), obtained 20 seats. The political complexion of the Supreme Council of Ukraine was changing with every general election. The communists, socialists, would-be social-democrats, and even the momentarily popular Samopomich, had disappeared from the active political arena.
With this unprecedented single-party majority in the Supreme Council, Volodymyr Zelensky could forego the antagonistic executive-legislative relationships of previous administrations. But this was a majority consisting of undisciplined novices with no common platform, hence not altogether reliable as support for the president. Zelensky himself tended to be impulsive, unpredictable, and untested as both decision-maker and personnel manager. His first prime ministerial appointment was also the country’s shortest in duration—six months—close to the norm for cabinet stability in Italy. Zelensky initially expected to negotiate with Vladimir Putin an end to the Russian Federation’s aggression by diplomatic means, but eventually adopted Petro Poroshenko’s strategy of military defence.
As a result of Russia’s occupation which was accompanied by a trade war, Ukraine’s economy suffered a downturn beginning in 2014. There was a drop of 17 percent in GDP; the hryvnia collapsed; foreign exchange reserves dropped as did GDP per capita. In short, a recession ensued. Revival of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU, meanwhile, resulted in the EU displacing the Russian Federation as Ukraine’s main trading partner as well as giving the EU leverage to encourage necessary reforms. Government spending was reduced, a corrupt banking system cleaned up, the gas sector was reformed, and measures were taken to reduce corruption. Beginning in 2016, GDP growth resumed reaching an historic high of US$195 billion by the end of 2021; the hryvnia stabilized; inflation fell yearly; and international reserves increased steadily. Ukraine’s economic recovery, vital for domestic stability, was, however, rudely interrupted as a result of which the country’s GDP in 2022 fell by more than 30 per cent.
On 24 February 2022, the Russian Federation launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine from the north, east, and south reminiscent of the twentieth century’s two World Wars with armoured columns, artillery, and rocket and air attacks. Referring to it deceptively as a ‘special military operation,’ President Vladimir Putin explained its objective as the ‘de-Nazification and de-militarization of Ukraine.’ This was seen as the culmination of three decades of tensions between the two countries during which the Russian Federation had used a variety of means to influence and modify its neighbour’s attitudes and behaviour (for background, see the section ‘Russia and Ukraine’ in this encyclopedia’s article on the Russian Federation). Putin claimed that Ukraine had no right to exist because Ukrainians and Russians were ‘one and the same people’ and that Ukraine’s territory had actually been stolen from Russia. The invasion was a violation of the United Nation Charter, the Budapest Memorandum, and the two states’ treaty of friendship and cooperation; it nullified the Minsk agreements.
Ukraine did not capitulate as expected, but fought back with support from the United States, NATO allies, and the EU. It immediately applied for EU membership and was granted candidate status, expressing unequivocally its geopolitical orientation. This became a genuinely existential struggle as the Russian Federation’s pursuit of the war was not limited to territorial conquest or military targets revealing instead its genocidal intent. It extended to wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure, domiciles, and lives well beyond the front lines. This also was a violation of international law. The entire operation would be seen as a criminal undertaking—in March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for war crimes.
Territory around Kharkiv and Kherson captured by Russian forces early in the war was recovered by the Ukrainian army and a stalemate ensued with the Russian Federation controlling 15 percent of Ukraine’s territory. The four oblasts of Luhansk oblast, Donetsk oblast, Kherson oblast, and Zaporizhia oblast were formally annexed by the Russian Federation in September 2022, despite not being fully under its control. In the occupied areas a policy of violence against civilians, Russification of schools, and forcible deportation was carried out, again in breach of the international laws of war. Having failed to uncover any Nazis or to demilitarize the country, Vladimir Putin then justified the war a defence of Russia against NATO aggression. With no clear objective or strategy for the invasion, but with apparently unlimited resources on the Russian side, it became an endless war of attrition.
President Volodymyr Zelensky emerged as an effective wartime leader. The country’s armed forces and civil society responded accordingly. Over 90 per cent of Ukrainians believed in a victorious end to the war, with a majority considering victory to be the liberation of all territory to pre-2014 borders. As Zelensky’s terms for a cessation of hostilities began with the removal of Russian forces from Ukraine’s 2014 borders, this ensured the war’s indefinite continuation.
Planning for a post-war Ukraine, the World Bank in June 2023 estimated the cost of rebuilding Ukraine at US$411 billion. This would require massive private investment as well as scrupulous accounting by its recipients, both items in short supply in pre-war Ukraine. To assure its future security, so as not to become a vassal of the Russian Federation, the government of Ukraine sought security guarantees from its allies as well as NATO membership which as of that date were not forthcoming.
[This part of the article was written in 2023.]
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