Ukraine from the beginning

History of Ukraine

During the first millennium BC, we identify peoples of Iranian language, Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians… During the first millennium AD, they are the Goths and the Antes, a protoslav population. The coast of the Black Sea sees passing, from east to west, Turkish or Finno-Ugric riders. kyiv was probably founded by the Turkish Khazars in the 5th century. From the 6th century, the Slavs inhabited present-day central, western and northern Ukraine. In the 9th century, Viking traders and warriors, the Varangians, seized kyiv (well located on trade routes) and made it the heart of a powerful state, Rus or Ruthenia. The Kievan aristocracy soon adopted Byzantine Christianity. Under Yaroslav the Wise (978-1054), the Kievan Rus stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from the confluence of the Okra with the Volga north of the Carpathians. It’s a lot. Too much for an effective control, especially since the rules of accession to dignities do not help. André 1er Bogolioubski, Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, seizes kyiv in 1169. The Ruthenian Empire is over. Vladimir’s Russia takes the reins. In Ruthenia, the Cumans pass and plunder. Then the Tatars pass and plunder. Then the Mongols imposed their suzerainty (13th century). The Ruthenian principalities fold, however seeking external support (Russian, Lithuanian). Galicia-Volhynia enters, the last, in the Mongol vassalage. In the 14th century, Poles and Lithuanians rose in power. They repel the Mongols, annex kyiv in 1362 and settle. The Tatars are confined to the Black Sea coast. During the Polish-Lithuanian union (from 1385), Ruthenia saw the arrival of Germans, Armenians, Jews, to repopulate and develop. The Polonization of the elites is happening rapidly. We go to Catholicism. Tensions between kyiv and Constantinople push the high Orthodox clergy to join Rome (1596, synod of Brest-Litovsk). But the peasants faithful to orthodoxy remain numerous. From the 15th century, some of them joined the adventurous and looting companies of the steppe, they became “Cossacks”. The Polish nobility resorted to them against the Tatars. The Cossacks organize themselves. In the 16th and 17th centuries, they led several uprisings against the Poles. In May 1648, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, allied with the Tatars and the Russians defeats them twice. A few years later, Ukraine (“march” in Ruthenian) was born, it is a Cossack territory located in the Dnieper basin, between Poland and Russia. To establish their autonomy, the Cossacks allied themselves with the Russians against the Poles (1654), then with the Swedes against the Russians (1708). In the end, they are vassalized by Moscow, then, under Catherine II (1762-1796), their autonomy is removed. The Russians annex three-quarters of the territory of Ukraine (Crimea will be taken from the Ottomans in 1783). To the west, Galicia has been Austrian since the first partition of Poland (1772). Bessarabia remained Turkish until 1812. In the 19th century, driven by political romanticism, the Ukrainian intelligentsia worked to recreate the conditions of a national state. In response, Moscow prohibits the use of the Ukrainian language in schools, the press and literature. After the Russian Revolution, in the last convulsions of the First World War, Ukraine managed a brief and eventful “independence” (1918-1920). The Red Army bluntly put an end to the experiment. Ukraine is thus one of the founding members of the USSR (December 30, 1922). Ukrainian nationalism was swiftly muzzled (the great purges of 1937-1939 aimed to annihilate it). The industrialization of the Republic will be based on the coal basin of Donbass and on the important hydraulic complex established on the Dnieper. The famine of 1932 kills several million Ukrainians. The Soviet policy of agricultural collectivization and dekulakization is partly responsible for this catastrophe. In 1939, Stalin recovers from Poland, then from Romania the following year, regions where large Ukrainian communities live. When Germany attacks the Soviet Union (1941), it encounters hesitant support in Ukraine; nationalists like Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) think of exploiting it for their benefit. In vain. If Germany manages to enroll more than 200,000 Ukrainians, it must work against a harsh guerrilla war. 1,300,000 Ukrainian soldiers are killed fighting the German army; Odessa, Kerch, Sevastopol and kyiv are made hero cities of the USSR. At the end of the war, Czechoslovakia had to cede Subcarpathian Ruthenia to the Little Father of the Peoples, who attached it to the Ukrainian SSR. Khrushchev added Crimea to it in 1954. The Khrushchev period, then the Brezhnev era saw the Ukrainian communist leaders give themselves “national” objectives. Under Mikhail Gorbachev the trend is asserting itself. And is confirmed when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics falls apart. Ukraine declares its independence on August 24. Independence confirmed by referendum on December 1. On the 12th, Leonid Kravtchouk was elected President of the Republic.

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