12.1  The History of Ukraine

This Lesson is Not Finished Yet





During World War 2 both the United States and the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany.  Initially the Soviet Union joined Nazi Germany but the Nazis turned against the Soviets.  The leader of the Soviet Union was Stalin a cruel tyrant.  After World War II was over the Soviet Union invaded eastern and central European countries.  In 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested an atom bomb.  The European countries that were still free formed an alliance with United States and Canada to counter the threat of the Soviet Union.  That alliance is called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO for short. 

In 1985 Mikhael Gorbachev became head of the Soviet Union.  He introduced reforms that made it a more free and democratic country.  He tried to create closer ties with the West.  He believed that good relations with the West were very important especially because nuclear weapons made bad relations dangerous.  Despite his efforts to bring freedom to the Soviet Union or perhaps because of his efforts, a number of countries broke away from the Soviet Union.  One of those countries, Ukraine broke away and declared its independence in 1991.  Mr. Gorbachev refused to use the military to keep these countries part of the Soviet Union.  Some joined NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  Vladimir Putin, later to become president of Russia, was not happy with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, especially since some of the nations who left the Soviet Union joined NATO, which he saw as a threat. Following its independence, Ukraine formed a republic similar to the United States with separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. It declared itself a neutral state.  Then Ukraine signed a trade agreement with the European Union.  In 2013, after President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine suspended the agreement in favor of closer economic ties with Russia, mass protests and demonstrations known as the Euromaidan erupted, escalating into the Revolution of Dignity that led to the overthrow of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government.. The new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the agreement with Europe again on 27 June 2014,and described this as Ukraine's "first but most decisive step" towards  membershipof the European Union.  The last thing Putin wanted was Ukraine becoming part of the European Union which he regarded as a threat to Russia.  Putin responded to the agreement by having Russia invade and take away Crimea the oil rich part of Ukraine, away from Ukraine.  He also encouraged Ukrainians who lived in Donbas an area at the eastern end of Ukraine to fight the Ukrainians so as to be part of Russia.  He then accused the Ukranians who fought back of genocide and used that as an excuse to invade Ukraine in February 2022.