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History of Russia and Ukraine

History of Russia and Ukraine

History of Russia and Ukraine: Russia recently acknowledged the independence of two regions in Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, leading to the outbreak of war. In the declaration of war, the Russian President characterized Ukraine as having no distinct history or identity, claiming it was entirely a creation of the former Soviet Union (USSR). However, it’s important to note that Ukraine and Russia have a shared history spanning hundreds of years, marked by cultural, linguistic, and familial ties.

Early History of Ukraine

  • A millennium ago, Ukraine was at the heart of the Kyivan Rus’ (Rus’ land).
  • Kyivan Rus was a federation of the East Slavic, Baltic, and Finnic peoples of eastern and northern Europe, with its capital in Kyiv.
  • Modern Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus all trace their cultural ancestry to the Kyivan Rus’.
  • The Kyivan Rus’ reached its greatest size and power in the 10th and 11th centuries.
  • In the mid-13th century, the Kyivan Rus’, weakened by the decline of trade as the Byzantine Empire collapsed, fell apart under the onslaught of the Mongol Golden Horde, who sacked Kyiv in 1240.
  • The Byzantine Empire, also called Byzantium, was the eastern half of the Roman Empire, based at Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) that continued on after the western half of the empire collapsed.
  • The Golden Horde was the group of settled Mongols who ruled over Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and the Caucasus from the 1240s until 1502.In the early 15th century, large parts of the former Kyivan Rus’ were incorporated into the multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
  • By the Union of Lublin, Poland, in 1569, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania came together to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was among Europe’s biggest countries at the time.
  • The beginnings of the modern Ukrainian national identity can be traced back to about a century after this event.

Salient Features of Ukraine

  • Ukraine is in the east of Europe.
  • It is bound by Russia to its northeast, east, and southeast, and the Black Sea in the south.
  • In the southwest, west, and north, Ukraine shares borders, in the anticlockwise direction, with Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Belarus.
  • It is the largest country in Europe after Russia itself, with an area of 6,03,550 sq km, or about 6% of the continent.
  • In July 2021, Ukraine’s population was estimated at 43.7 million.
  • Of this, 77.8% was of Ukrainian ethnicity and 17.3% was Russian, and Ukrainian and Russian speakers made up 67.5% and 29.6% of the population respectively.
  • Ukraine is considered one of the less prosperous countries in Europe when it comes to the income and economic output of its citizens. Despite having valuable resources like iron ore and coal, the country faces economic challenges.
  • Ukraine’s main exports include corn, sunflower oil, iron, iron products, and wheat. These products contribute significantly to the country’s international trade.
Relations With India
  • India stands out as Ukraine’s primary export destination in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Among the various goods Ukraine sells to India, sunflower oil takes the lead. Other significant exports include inorganic chemicals, iron and steel, plastics, and various chemicals.
  • Ukraine’s noteworthy import from India revolves around pharmaceutical products, emphasizing the importance of this sector in their trade relationship.

Ukraine Incorporate into Russia

  • In the 18th century, Empress Catherine the Great brought Ukrainian territory into the Russian Empire. This move, along with a policy of Russification, aimed to suppress Ukrainian identities and languages. Despite this, many Ukrainians found success in the Russian Empire, even settling in different parts of the country.
  • When World War I unfolded, over 3.5 million Ukrainians sided with the Russian Empire, while a smaller number fought against the Tsar’s army with the Austro-Hungarians. The war led to the collapse of the Tsarist and Ottoman empires, creating space for the emergence of a communist-led Ukrainian national movement. This movement led to the proclamation of an independent Ukrainian People’s Republic shortly after the October Revolution of 1917. However, a civil war ensued involving various groups vying for power, including Ukrainian factions, anarchists, Tsarists, and Poland.
  • By 1922, Ukraine became a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The Soviet Union traced its origins back to the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, toppled the Russian Provisional Government that had replaced Tsar Nicholas II.

Status of Ukraine After the Collapse of USSR

  • In 1991, the USSR disappeared from the map.
  • Ukraine had been wanting freedom for a while, and in 1990, more than 300,000 Ukrainians joined hands in a massive human chain to support their cause.
  • The Granite Revolution kicked in when students tried to stop a new deal with the USSR.
  • On August 24, 1991, after a failed coup to bring back President Gorbachev and the communists, Ukraine’s parliament declared independence.
  • Leonid Kravchuk, the head of the parliament, became Ukraine’s first President.
  • In December 1991, leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine dissolved the Soviet Union and created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).Even though the other countries were on board, Ukraine’s parliament never officially approved, so legally, Ukraine was never part of the CIS.

Recent History of Russia and Ukraine Conflict

  • In 2014, Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine after a quick referendum, which triggered conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in the east.
  • Fast forward to today, Ukraine is pushing NATO to speed up its entry into the alliance. Russia sees this as a major concern, calling it a “red line” and worrying about the US-led military alliance getting too close to its borders.
  • As a result, tensions have escalated, leading to the current war between Russia and Ukraine.

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