The current Ukrainians descend from the Slavic populations who settled in the lands straddling the Dnepr river between the century. VI and VII. In the sec. IX the region they occupied became with the city of Kijev the center of a vast state organization extending from the Baltic Sea almost to the Black Sea, known as Rus’ and ruled by the dynasty of Scandinavian origin founded by Rjurik “the red”. The development of the Kijevian civilization placed the Ukrainian ethnic group in a historical position of pre-eminence compared to other groups in the same geographical area; Christianity and with it the Cyrillic alphabet were introduced in Kijev around the year 1000and many elements of the Greek-Byzantine culture which then gradually spread to the whole Russian area. Duri was the Rus’ kijeviana the century. XI and XII both for the incessant dynastic struggles and for the repeated raids of the Polovcy (also called Cumans), nomadic invaders of Turkish origin who devastated the Ukrainian lands. In the sec. XIII then, Kijev was destroyed (1236) and much of the current Ukraine was occupied by the Mongols who made it part of their stable dominion (the State of the Tartars of the Golden Horde, with capital in Sarai, on the Volga). Meanwhile, already starting from the century. XII, in the western part of Ukraine another state had been forming which included Volhynia and the basin of the upper Dnestr with the city of Galič and which remained free from the domain of the Golden Horde. This principality, after a period of splendor, fell apart in the century. XIV, when Volhynia was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the region of Galic (or Galicia) by the Kingdom of Poland. At the end of the century, with the Polish-Lithuanian dynastic union, the entire western region of present-day Ukraine became part of the larger Polish kingdom. The Poles established a harsh, exorbitant and uncompromising regime: servitude and corvee were imposed very heavy; every effort was made to eradicate orthodoxy in favor of Catholicism. At the end of the century. XV the lower Dnieper basin, where crowds of Ukrainian peasants fled from Polish domination had gathered, forming free communities of farmer-soldiers (the Cossacks), was a no man’s land, disputed by the Poles, the Russians and the Tartars.
According to Usprivateschoolsfinder, the Cossack communities grew in number and strength, to the point of gaining a real independence, between continuous wars and raids. Until the middle of the century. XVII the most authoritative Cossack leader, the ataman Bogdan Chmelnickij, at the height of yet another conflict with the Polish troops, turned to Tsar Alexei Michajlovič for protection (Treaty of Perejaslavl, 1654). After a bitter war, the Peace of Andrusovo (1667) assigned to Poland the lands to the right of the Dnieper, to Russia those to the left with the city of Kijev; later, with the collapse of the Polish kingdom and its second partition (1793), Russia also obtained a large part of the land to the right of the Dnieper, except for Galicia which was instead annexed to the Habsburg empire. The Russification of Ukraine (also called “Little Russia”) took place in a harsh and intolerant form, after having brought Cossack organizations to their knees, forced to disperse in the remotest territories of the Tsarist empire as colonists and military garrisons of the borders. The Ukrainian population was considered Russian in all respects and its language was assimilated to any dialect. Ukrainian language and traditions were instead preserved in Galicia, under Austrian sovereignty: Lviv (today The viv) thus became the animating center of a peaceful Ukrainian “cultural resurgence”. Galicia also became for thousands of Jews, fleeing a wave of anti-Semitism that in the last years of the century. XIX broke loose in Russia, a natural refuge although sometimes only temporary on the way to Western Europe and America. Meanwhile, Russian Ukraine followed the general events of the tsarist empire, including the political-social unrest of 1905, until the World War I: when the war events and the revolutionary convulsions of 1917 brought it for a short and confused period out of Moscow’s control. The revolutions of 1917 (February and October) took place while part of Ukraine was occupied by Austro-German troops: in April a Society of Progress (intellectual and nationalist) proclaimed an independent Ukrainian republic and assembled a Rada (Parliament), but in December in Harkiv a Soviet government was formed which soon reached Kijev, forcing the bourgeois Rada to take refuge in Zhytomyr. This dealt separately with the Germans the Peace of Brest-Litovsk (February 1918) and obtained the support of the Germanic armies that occupied Kijev; in April it was in turn dissolved by the occupiers who entrusted the formal power to the ataman P. Skoropadskij. With the fall of the Central Empires and with them also the pro-German government (November 1918), power was assumed by the Ataman S. Petljura, who asked for help from the Anglo-French to resist the pressure of the Bolshevik forces who, however (February 1919), they managed to occupy Kijev. In the summer of the same year, A. Denikin’s White Army forced the Red Army to retreat to the north, but in November she had already been driven out due to the intolerance of the population. In 1920 the Poles, who had just regained independence, also entered the scene: one of their army penetrated deeply into Ukraine and reached Kijev (May 7) with the support of Petlyura, but the Red Army’s counter-offensive pushed the Poles back. within their borders. In 1921, after the war events, the Soviet Republic of Ukraine was constituted as a constituent member of the USSR: a large part of the population remained outside the new borders, in Poland (Galicia), Romania (Bucovina and Bessarabia) and Czechoslovakia (Ruthenia). subcarpathian). In the 1920s and 1930s, peasant Ukraine also suffered the worst consequences of Stalin’s policy, with a terrible famine due to the forced requisition of crops and the subsequent persecution of the richest peasants (Kulaki), which produced hundreds of thousands of victims. After the Second World War, during which Ukraine was completely occupied by the Germans, who exterminated the Jewish minority there, also giving birth to a pro-Nazi Ukrainian army, almost all the territories inhabited by Ukrainians were re-annexed to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. In 1954 Crimea, which had previously been part of Russia, was also added to the RSSU. At the beginning of the nineties, in the new climate brought by perestroika, separatist aspirations also found expression on the political level, both with the birth of some parties and with the contestation of the drafting of the Union Treaty (June 1991).
Ukraine, in fact, proclaimed its independence on August 24, 1991, in the aftermath of the failed Moscow coup that had given way to the definitive dismemberment of the Soviet Union. The presidential elections, held at the same time as the referendum on the ratification of independence (1 December), confirmed L. Kravčuk at the top of the state, in office since July of the previous year; similarly the Parliament, made up for the most part of deputies elected in March 1990 on the lists of the Communist Party of Ukraine (dissolved in July 1991). The ethnic contrasts have arisen less sharp than elsewhere in the former USSR: among the most important issues, the requests for autonomy from the eastern part of the Donbass region and Transcarpathian Ruthenia (in particular the Beregovo district , with a Magyar majority). The question of Crimea is more complex, at the center of a political and military dispute: a substantial part of the Russian-speaking population refused to follow the fate of Ukraine, while Moscow claimed power over the Black Sea fleet and its base in Sevastopol. The question of relations with Russia, together with the clash on the economic model to follow, conditioned the entire political life of the country after independence. At the beginning the dispute was between President Kravčuk and Prime Minister L. Kučma: the former more conservative and attentive to the nationalist appeal, the latter advocating a plan of strong privatization and a policy of close collaboration with Russia. Kravčuk gave his foreign policy a decidedly autonomist stamp by signing Ukraine’s accession to the ” Partnership for Peace” with NATO, which allowed him to get help from the US. But the presidential elections of 1994 saw the victory of Kučma, who prepared a three-year plan of privatizations and sought an agreement with Moscow for the Crimea and for the fleet: an agreement that was reached in two stages between 1995 and 1997, with the partition of the fleet, the lease to Russia of the base in Sevastopol and a new autonomy for Crimea (where in the meantime the Russian-speaking separatists were electorally defeated).