6/28/2022 - Politics and Society

Brief history of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia: Part 2

By Clara Esposito Lav

Brief history of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia: Part 2

As the holder shows, this is the second delivery to a previous publication on the Ukrainian-Russian relationship until the 19th century. However, if you wish, this second part can be read independently of the previous publication. This piece focuses on the 20th and 21st century milestones to understand today's conflict between Ukraine and Russia, according to Serhy Yekelchyk. I will follow and briefly summarize an article that wrote last January.

1918: Independence of Ukraine

With the collapse of the Russian monarchy after the 1917 revolution under the tension of political discord and war, the patriotic Ukrainians established their own body of coordination, the Central Rada, which soon became a revolutionary parliament. Under the name of the People's Republic of Ukraine (UNR), the Russian provisional government granted autonomy to Ukraine. Shortly after, the Bolsheviks took control of the Provisional Government, refused to recognize the UNR and subsequently invaded Ukraine to include it in the newly established Soviet state. In response, the UNR signed a peace treaty with the Central Powers in Brest before the Bolsheviks did the same and declared complete independence in January 1918. Correspondingly, "German authorities have installed a Ukrainian monarch under the historical title of Hetman". But after the end of World War I, the UNR returned to power and proclaimed unification with the ancient lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated. As often happens, the UNR could not survive "the Titanic Civil War (1917-1922) between the Russian Reds and Whites, since no power recognized Ukrainian sovereignty".

However, the precedent of Ukrainian independence forced the Bolsheviks, since they fully controlled the territory and the Russian government, to create the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, which in 1922 became a founding member of the Socialist Soviet Union (URSS).

However, in the early years of the 1930s, Stalin implemented an active policy aimed at crushing the Ukrainian political nation developed during the Revolution. In Ukraine, it is known as Holodomor, a famine created by the state during 1932–1933 in which about 4 million Ukrainian peasants died. "There is an increasingly accepted interpretation worldwide that considers it a genocide, but that Russia rejects. In addition, Stalin destroyed the Ukrainian political elite and began to promote the notion of Ukraine as the "lesser brother" of the Russians.

1945:Enlargement of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine

Shortly before the beginning of World War II, Stalin and Hitler made a secret pact on the division of Central and Eastern Europe among them. This event ended with Lenin's dream of bringing the Communist Revolution to Western Europe as it created a stagnation. In September 1939, Stalin invaded Poland and incorporated the lands of the Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic) that Poland had maintained after its brief war with the Bolsheviks in 1919.

As the war reached its last section, W. Churchill and F. D. Roosevelt allowed Stalin to maintain these territories as his debris of war under the agreement made at the Yalta Conference of 1945.

Later, under the leader of the Nikita Khrushchev party, the RSS of Ukraine incorporated almost all remaining territories with a Ukrainian ethnic majority. With the aim of the Ukrainian patriots to create a united Ukraine, but within a limited course of cultural assimilation in Russia, instead of promoting an autonomous Ukraine. Until the 1960s, Ukrainian nationalists did not hold their armed resistance to the Soviet government in the former Polish territories.

[caption id=" align="aligncenter" width="583"] CVCE Website Meeting in Yalta, 1945. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin determine the fate of post-war Nazi Germany and the future of the liberated countries. Source: CVCE Website[/caption]

1954:Transfer of the Crimean Peninsula

Due to the strategic significance of the peninsula, Crimea became an autonomous republic within Russia in 1921. During the 1920s, the Soviets promoted the culture of the Crimean Tatars, who had lived there since the 13th century. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian were a majority there. However, when the Red Army took the Crimea of Nazi Germany, Stalin ordered a forced deportation of the Tatars. "As a result of this deportation, ethnic Russians became a numerical majority practically during the night".

In 1954, to commemorate the 300 years since Pereiaslav, Khrushchev ordered the transfer of Crimea to the Ukraine USSR with the condition of rebuilding it and providing it with fresh water after the destruction suffered in World War II. The political objective was to gratify the Ukrainian bureaucrats who understood Khrushchev's power base and, perhaps, "to attack the culturally Russian counterweight to the newly incorporated nationalist western regions".

1991:The collapse of the Soviet Union

After the political and economic reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev and the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the Boris Yeltsin administration did not attempt to preserve the Soviet federation, but sought independent Russia. A referendum in December 1991 in Ukraine marked the end of the union, and Russia, Belarus and Ukraine began their formal dissolution. However, "with economic reforms that lie in the early 1990s, Yeltsin and other Russian figures have increasingly resorted to national nostalgic nationalists for the Soviet empire criticizing Ukrainian cultural policies and questioning the transfer of Crimea."

In 1994, the signing of the Budapest Memorandum guaranteed by Russia and the Western nuclear powers, the Ukrainian borders if Ukraine agreed to deliver its Soviet atomic arsenal. In 1997 another treaty between Russia and Ukraine affirmed the integrity of the Ukrainian borders. However, he expired on 31 March 2019.

2014:Attachment of Crimea and war in Donbas

When a popular revolution removed pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych to bring to power a pro-Western force, the Russian authorities seized political confusion to establish military control over Crimea. With the idea that the local Russian majority would support the incorporation of the peninsula to Russia, a referendum took place. However, it produced relentless results in the international stage and in addition to some pro-Russian states such as North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, the world community condemned annexation.

Faced with Western punitive sanctions, the Russian Crimean authorities repressed local Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars. Moreover, since Russia secured its control over the territory, it fostered rebellions in other southern provinces of Ukraine, where the dominant regional parties had long cultivated pro-Russian attitudes. Despite Russian efforts, the strategy only worked on the Donbas.

When the Ukrainian government attempted to restore control, "the administration of Puttin secretly sent regular army units to support pro-Russian separatists and the "Russian volunteers". Until the fall of 2015, there was an active war, with a new escalation in 2017 and 2020 principles, which resulted in an estimated human cost of 14,000 dead and 1.5 million displaced.

2021: The accumulation of Russian troops and the ultimatum for the West

" The war at Donbas never formally ended; low-intensity fire is a daily reality, and casualties are reported every week." It was tried to trace a peaceful path to resolve the conflict in 2015 with the Minsk Protocol, signed during a summit in Belarus. But it is still blocked due to specific unacceptable points for Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine will not accept the proposal to allow local elections in the two "popular republics", despite the presence of Russian troops, without having established control over its border with Russia. The latter will not recognize the existence of his forces, even less remove them.

Later in 2021, "Western and Ukrainian bodies published information about a massive accumulation of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border and the preparation for a possible invasion". The Russian authorities insisted on the nature of military training, but also issued an ultimatum to the West demanding written guarantees against the expansion of NATO in the East. In addition, Russia insisted on ending any NATO military cooperation with other post-Soviet states.

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clara esposito

Clara Esposito Lav

Hola, me llamo Clara! Soy historiadora y me interesan tópicos muy diversos, sobre todo por mi amor a viajar y conocer diferentes culturas, lugares y novedades. Todo ello me lleva a pasar horas investigando y leyendo un poco de todo! Be my guests ;)

Hi, I'm Clara! I'm a historian with diverse interests who loves to travel and get to know different cultures, places, and trends. I usually spend long hours researching and reading! Be my guests ;)

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