The History of Ukraine

The History of Ukraine

The History of Ukraine

The History of Ukraine

Synopsis

Ukraine's struggle for a national identity plagued this former Soviet Union state long before the Cold War shook the world. Its central location between Eastern Europe and Western Asia invited many different cultures to settle the land, ultimately populating a powerful early medieval society known as Kievan Rus. However, readers will learn how Kievan Rus's Golden Age quickly crumbled with decades of Mongol invasions, Polish-Lithuanian occupation, and Russian empirical ruling. Explore how Ukraine flirted with independence in the early 20th century, only to be quickly taken over by harsh Soviet rule in 1922. Despite its independence from the USSR in 1991, devastating consequences of the socialist rule have allowed the world to witness Ukraine's ceaseless efforts to attain a stable government, struggling through the poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko, rigged elections, and the Orange Revolution. Kubicek's survey is comprehensive and concise-a perfect resource for high school students and undergrads, as well as general readers looking to further their knowledge of this up-and-coming nation.

Excerpt

Ukraine (Ukraïna in Ukrainian) means “on the edge” or “borderland,” and for most of its history Ukraine has served as a sort of middle ground, divided between Russia and Poland (later Austria-Hungary) and occupying the far western edge of the vast Eurasian steppe, centered between Europe and Asia, West and East. During most of twentieth century, it was part of the Soviet Union, but it gained independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 different countries. In terms of population, it is the second largest (after Russia) of the post-Soviet states, and, among all European countries, it is the second largest (again, after Russia) in territorial size. Although a new country, it has a long and complicated history, and the importance of this history is manifested today in various ways: the regional divisions between western and eastern parts of the country; its inexperience with both capitalism and democracy that has arguably made the post-Soviet transition more difficult; its lack of previous statehood that has complicated notions of Ukrainian identity; and, perhaps above all else, its relations with neighboring states, especially Russia, which ruled, either as the Russian Empire under the tsars or as the Soviet Union under the Communist Party, over most of Ukraine for centuries. Coming to grips with aspects of its history and charting its own course have been challenges for the new Ukrainian state.

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