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(yo͞o`krān, yo͞okrān`), Ukr. Ukraina, republic (2015 est. pop. 44,658,000), 232,046 sq mi (601,000 sq km), E Europe. It borders on Poland in the northwest; on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the southwest; on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south; on Russia in the east and northeast; and on Belarus in the north. KievKiev
or Kyiv
, Ukrainian Kyyiv, Rus. Kiyev, city (1990 est. pop. 2,600,000) and municipality with the status of a region (oblast), capital of Ukraine and of Kiev region, a port on the Dnieper River.
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 is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

Drained by the Dnieper, the Dniester, the Buh, and the Donets rivers, Ukraine consists largely of fertile steppes, extending from the Carpathians and the Volhynian-Podolian uplands in the west to the Donets Ridge in the southeast. The Dnieper divides the republic into right-bank and left-bank Ukraine. In the north and northwest of the country is the wooded area of the Pripyat Marshes, with gray podzol soil and numerous swamps; wooded steppes extend across central Ukraine; and a fertile, treeless, grassy, black-earth (chernozem) steppe covers the south. The continental climate of the republic is greatly modified by its proximity to the Black Sea.

Ethnic Ukrainians make up more than three fourths of the population; Russians constitute around 17%, and there are Belarusian, Moldovan, Polish, Jewish, and other minorities. More than half the population is urban. The official language is Ukrainian. Many speak Russian as a first or second language, especially in E and S Ukraine. The majority of those practicing a religious faith belong to a branch of Orthodox Christianity—either to the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was established in 2018, or to the Ukrainian (formerly Russian) Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Russian patriarch. Separate from both is the smaller West Ukrainian Catholic Church (also known as the Uniate or Greek Catholic Church), which in 1596 established unity with Roman Catholicism but was forced by the Soviet government in 1946 to sever its ties with Rome; these ties were reestablished in 1991, and the church experienced a revival.


One quarter of the workforce is employed in agriculture. Ukraine's steppe is one of the chief wheat-producing regions of Europe, and the area was long known as the "breadbasket of the Soviet Union." Other major crops include corn, rye, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, and flax.

Ukraine possesses numerous raw materials and power resources, and its central and E regions form one of the world's densest industrial concentrations. The heavy metallurgical, machine-building, and chemical industries are based on the iron mines of Kryvyy RihKryvyy Rih
, Rus. Krivoy Rog, city (1989 pop. 713,000), SE Ukraine, at the confluence of the Inhulets and Saksagan rivers. It is a rail junction, an industrial center, and a metallurgical and coking center of one of the world's richest iron-mining regions.
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, the manganese ores of NikopolNikopol
, city (1989 pop. 158,000), SE Ukraine, on the Dnieper River. It is a rail terminus and the industrial center of one of the world's richest manganese-mining areas. The city has metallurgical plants, machine tool factories, and food-processing and brewing industries.
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, and the coking coal and anthracite of the Donets BasinDonets Basin
, abbreviated as Donbas
, industrial region (c.10,000 sq mi/25,900 sq km), E Ukraine and SW European Russia, N of the Sea of Azov and W of the Donets River.
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. The DniprohesDniprohes
[Ukr. abbr.,=Dnieper hydroelectric station], Rus. Dneproges, a hydroelectric station, central Ukraine, on the Dnieper River near Zaporizhzhya. The hydroelectric station supplies power for the industrial centers of Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk), Kryvyy Rih, and
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 dam powers a hydroelectric station and has made the Dnieper navigable for nearly its entire length. The region also produces titanium, nickel, zinc, mercury, oil, natural gas, and bauxite.

Ukraine's main industrial centers are KharkivKharkiv
, Rus. Kharkov, city (1990 est. pop. 1,600,000), capital of Kharkiv region, E Ukraine, at the confluence of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers in the upper Donets valley.
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, DniproDnipro
, formerly Dnipropetrovsk
, Rus. Dnepropetrovsk, city (1990 est. pop. 1,186,000), capital of Dnipropetrovsk region, central Ukraine, on the Dnieper River.
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 (formerly Dnipropetrovsk), DonetskDonetsk
, city (1990 est. pop. 1,120,000), capital of Donetsk region, E Ukraine, on the Kalmius River. The largest industrial center of the Donets Basin and one of the largest in Ukraine, it has coal mines, coking plants, iron and steel mills, machinery works, and chemical
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, ZaporizhzhyaZaporizhzhya
, Rus. Zaporozhye, city (1989 pop. 884,000), capital of Zaporizhzhya region, in Ukraine, a port on the Dnieper River, opposite the island of Khortytsya.
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, MakiyivkaMakiyivka
, Rus. Makeyevka, city (1989 pop. 430,000), SE Ukraine, in the Donets Basin. It is a metallurgical and coal-mining center and has machinery and coking plants. Makiyivka was founded in 1899 as a metallurgical settlement called Dmitriyevsk.
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, MariupolMariupol
, formerly Zhdanov
, city (1989 pop. 520,000), SE Ukraine, on the Sea of Azov and at the mouth of the Kalmius River. A seaport and railroad terminus, Mariupol is also an iron and steel center with machine plants, chemical works, and shipyards.
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, and LuhanskLuhansk
, Rus. Lugansk, city (1989 pop. 497,000), capital of Luhansk region, E Ukraine, at the confluence of the Luhan and Vilkhivka rivers, in the Donets Basin. Its products include locomotives, processed coal, chemicals, steel pipes, mining equipment, machine tools,
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. OdessaOdessa
, Ukr. Odesa, city (1989 pop. 1,115,000), capital of Odessa region, in Ukraine, a port on Odessa Bay of the Black Sea. The third largest Ukrainian city after Kiev and Kharkiv, Odessa is an important rail junction and highway hub and is a major industrial, cultural,
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 is the principal Ukrainian port on the Black Sea. Although mainly agricultural, W Ukraine has significant petroleum centers at DrohobychDrohobych
, Pol. Drohobycz, Rus. Drogobych, city (1989 pop. 78,000), Lviv region, W Ukraine, in the N Carpathian foothills. The major petroleum-refining center of the Boryslav oil field, it is linked by an oil pipeline with Boryslav and a natural gas pipeline with
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 and Boryslav, natural gas at Dashava, coal industries at Novovolynsk, and rich salt deposits. LvivLviv
, Rus. Lvov, Pol. Lwów, Ger. Lemberg, city (1989 pop. 791,000), capital of Lviv region, W Ukraine, at the watershed of the Western Bug and Dniester rivers and in the northern foothills of the Carpathian Mts.
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 is the cultural center and the main industrial city in W Ukraine. ZhytomyrZhytomyr
, Rus. Zhitomir, city (1989 pop. 292,000), capital of Zhytomyr region, central Ukraine, on the Teteriv River, a tributary of the Dnieper. It is a road and rail junction in an agricultural area.
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 and VinnytsyaVinnytsya
, Rus. Vinnitsa, city (1989 pop. 374,000), capital of Vinnytsya region, in Podolia, Ukraine, on the Southern Buh River. A railroad junction in a sugar beet district, the city has food-processing industries. It was taken by Russia from Poland in 1793.
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 are the main agricultural centers. The republic's leading industrial products include machinery and transportation equipment, ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals, building materials, fertilizers, and consumer goods. Food processing, notably the refining of sugar, is also a major industry. In spite of its many resources, Ukraine must import large quantities of natural gas and oil. Steel, petroleum products, machinery, and processed foods are exported. Russia is by far the largest trading partner; others include Germany, Turkmenistan, and Turkey.


Ukraine is governed under the constitution of 1996. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who along with the cabinet is named by president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 450-seat Supreme Council (Verkhovna Rada), whose members are elected to serve five-year terms. All parties that win at least 3% of the national vote in the parliamentary election are awarded seats on a proportional basis. Administratively, Ukraine is divided into 24 provinces or oblasts, two municipalities with oblast status (Kiev and SevastopolSevastopol
, formerly spelled Sebastopol, city (1989 pop. 355,000), on the Crimean peninsula and the Bay of Sevastopol, an inlet of the Black Sea. From 1954 part of Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR), it passed to Russian control in 2014 after the occupation and annexation of
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, the latter occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014), and one autonomous republic (Crimea, similarly annexed in 2014).


Early History

In ancient times a major part of present-day Ukraine was inhabited by the Scythians (see ScythiaScythia
, ancient region of Eurasia, extending from the Danube on the west to the borders of China on the east. The Scythians flourished from the 8th to the 4th cent. B.C. They spoke an Indo-Iranian language but had no system of writing.
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), who were later displaced by the Sarmatians (see SarmatiaSarmatia
, ancient district between the Vistula River and the Caspian Sea, gradually conquered and occupied by the Sarmatians [Lat. Sarmatae] or Sauromatians (a term used by Herodotus and now used by archaeologists for early Sarmatians) from the 6th cent. B.C.
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). Early in the Christian era, a series of invaders (Goths, Huns, Avars) overran the Ukrainian steppes, and in the 7th cent. the KhazarsKhazars
, ancient Turkic people who appeared in Transcaucasia in the 2d cent. A.D. and subsequently settled in the lower Volga region. They emerged as a force in the 7th cent. and rose to great power. The Khazar empire extended (8th–10th cent.
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 included much of Ukraine in their empire. The Ukrainians themselves can be traced to Neolithic agricultural tribes in the Dnieper and Dniester valleys.

The Antes tribal federation (4th–7th cent.) represented the first definitely Slavic community in the area. In the 9th cent., a Varangian dynasty from Scandinavia established itself at Kiev. Having freed the Slavs from Khazar domination, the Varangians united them in the powerful Kievan Rus. The land and people of Ukraine formed the core of Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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Following YaroslavYaroslav
(Yaroslav the Wise) , 978–1054, grand duke of Kiev (1019–54); son of Vladimir I. Designated by his father to rule in Novgorod, he became grand duke of Kiev after defeating his older brother Sviatopolk, who succeeded Vladimir I.
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's reign (1019–54), which marked the zenith of Kiev's power, Kievan Rus split into principalities, including the western duchies of Halych (see GaliciaGalicia
, Pol. Galicja, Ukr. Halychyna, Rus. Galitsiya, historic region (32,332 sq mi/83,740 sq km), SE Poland and W Ukraine, covering the slopes of the N Carpathians and plains to the north and bordering on Slovakia in the south.
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) and Volodymyr (see Volodymyr-VolynskyyVolodymyr-Volynskyy
, Pol. Włodzimierz, Rus. Vladimir-Volynski, city (1989 pop. 38,000), NW Ukraine. It was founded in the 9th cent. and supposedly refounded in 988 by the Grand Duke Vladimir I (Volodymyr I) of Kievan Rus.
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 and VolhyniaVolhynia
, Ukr. and Rus. Volyn, Pol. Wołyń, historic region, W Ukraine, around the headstreams of the Pripyat and Western Bug rivers in an area of forests, lakes, and marshlands.
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). These and the rest of the western region, which included PodoliaPodolia
, region, SW Ukraine, separated in the south from Moldova by the Dniester and in the west from W Galicia by the Southern Buh. It borders on Volhynia in the north.
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, had separate histories after the conquest of Kievan Rus (13th cent.) by the Mongols of the Golden HordeGolden Horde, Empire of the,
Mongol state comprising most of Russia, given as an appanage to Jenghiz Khan's oldest son, Juchi, and actually conquered and founded in the mid-13th cent. by Juchi's son, Batu Khan, after the Mongol or Tatar (see Tatars) conquest of Russia.
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In the mid-14th cent. Lithuania began to expand eastward and southward, supplanting the Tatars in Ukraine. The dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania in 1386 also opened Ukraine to Polish expansion. Ukraine had flourished under Lithuanian rule, and its language became that of the state; but after the organic union of Poland and Lithuania in 1569, Ukraine came under Polish rule, enserfment of the Ukrainian peasants proceeded apace, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church suffered persecution. In 1596 the Ukrainian Orthodox bishops, confronted with the power of Polish Catholicism, established the Uniate, or Greek Catholic, faith, which recognized papal authority but retained the Orthodox rite. Meanwhile, the Black Sea shore, ruled by the khans of CrimeaCrimea
, Rus. and Ukr. Krym, peninsula and republic (1991 est. pop. 2,363,000), c.10,000 sq mi (25,900 sq km), SE Europe, linked with the mainland by the Perekop Isthmus. The peninsula is bounded on the S and W by the Black Sea.
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, was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in 1478.

The Struggle for Autonomy

The term Ukraine, which may be translated as "at the border" or "borderland," came into general usage in the 16th cent. At that time, Poland-Lithuania and the rising principality of Moscow, or Muscovy, were vying for control of this vast area south of their borders. The harsh conditions of Polish rule led many Ukrainians to flee serfdom and religious persecution by escaping beyond the area of the lower Dnieper rapids. There they established a military order called the Zaporizhzhya Sich ("clearing beyond the rapids"). These fugitives became known as Cossacks or Kozaks, an adaptation of the Turkic word kazak, meaning "outlaw" or "adventurer." In 1648 the Cossacks, led by Hetman Bohdan ChmielnickiChmielnicki, Khmelnytskyy or Khmelnitsky, Bohdan
, c.1595–1657, hetman (leader) of Ukraine. An educated member of the Ukrainian gentry, he early joined the Ukrainian Cossacks.
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, successfully waged a revolution against Polish domination.

Ukraine, however, was too weak to stand alone, and in 1654 Chmielnicki recognized the suzerainty of Moscow in the Treaty of Pereyaslavl. By the terms of the treaty, Ukraine was to be largely independent; but Russia soon began to encroach upon its rights (the czars contemptuously referred to the Ukrainians as "Little Russians," as contrasted with the "Great Russians" of the Muscovite realm). Through a treaty with Poland in 1658, Ukraine attempted to throw off Russian protection. The ensuing Russo-Polish war ended in 1667 with the Treaty of Andrusov, which partitioned Ukraine.

Russia obtained left-bank Ukraine, east of the Dnieper River and including Kiev; Poland retained right-bank Ukraine. Hetman Ivan MazepaMazepa, Ivan
, c.1640–1709, Cossack hetman [leader] in the Russian Ukraine. He was made hetman (1687) on the insistence of Prince Gallitzin, adviser to the Russian regent, Sophia Alekseyevna, and he aided Gallitzin in his campaign against the Tatars (1689).
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, presiding over a diminished Cossack state, sought once again to free Ukraine from Russian domination; he thus joined Sweden against Russia in the Northern War, but their defeat at Poltava by Czar Peter I in 1709 sealed the fate of Ukraine. Mazepa's fall crushed the last hopes for Ukrainian independence and further curtailed Ukrainian autonomy.

The last of Ukraine's hetmans was forced by Empress Catherine II to resign in 1764; the Zaporizhzhya Sich was razed by Russian troops in 1775, and Ukraine, its political autonomy terminated, was divided into three provinces. In 1783, Russia annexed the khanate of Crimea. The Polish partition treaties of 1772, 1793, and 1795 (see Poland, partitions ofPoland, partitions of.
The basic causes leading to the three successive partitions (1772, 1793, 1795) that eliminated Poland from the map were the decay and the internal disunity of Poland and the emergence of its neighbors, Russia and Prussia, as leading European powers.
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) awarded Podolia and Volhynia to Russia, thus reuniting left-bank and right-bank Ukraine; E Galicia went to Austria.

Colonization of the steppes proceeded apace in the 19th cent., and in the 1870s the great Ukrainian coal and metallurgical industrial region was established. Despite a Russian ban on use of the Ukrainian language in the schools and in publications, a movement for Ukrainian national and cultural revival blossomed in the late 19th cent. There was also renewed agitation for Ukrainian independence and for the union of all Ukrainian lands, including those of Austria-Hungary–Galicia, Bukovina, and Ruthenia (see Transcarpathian RegionTranscarpathian Region
, Ukr. Zarkarpattya Oblast or Zakarpats'ka Oblast, Rus. Zakarpatskaya Oblast, administrative region (1989 pop. 1,252,000), 4,981 sq mi (12,901 sq km), SW Ukraine, on the southwestern slopes of the Carpathian Mts.
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) under a single state. The Galician Ukrainians, who emerged as a political nationality during the 1848 Austrian revolution, made Galicia a haven abroad for the nationalist movement in Russian Ukraine. This movement was spearheaded by secret educational groups called hromadas, that were repeatedly suppressed by the czar.

Following the overthrow of the czarist regime in 1917, a Ukrainian central council was set up with Mikhailo HrushevskyHrushevsky, Mikhailo
, 1866–1934, Ukrainian historian and statesman. Hrushevsky's monumental History of Ukraine (10 vol., 1899–1937) covers the period to 1658. Other works include A History of Ukraine (tr.
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 as president; in June, 1917, it formed a government with Vladimir VinnichenkoVinnichenko, Vladimir
, 1880–1951, Ukrainian writer and statesman. Vinnichenko's early tales are naturalistic; his later novels concern the individual's conflict with society.
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 as premier and Simon Petlura as war minister. Originally declaring itself a republic within the framework of a federated Russia, Ukraine proclaimed complete independence in Jan., 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Soviet troops were sent into Ukraine, but the Central Powers, having acknowledged Ukrainian independence, then overran the territory with their own soldiers and forced the Red Army, through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (Mar., 1918) to withdraw. The World War I armistice of Nov., 1918, in turn forced the withdrawal from Ukraine of the Central Powers. Meanwhile, with the disintegration of Austria-Hungary, an independent republic in W Ukraine had been proclaimed in Lviv. In Jan., 1919, the union of the two Ukraines was proclaimed; however, Soviet troops immediately occupied Kiev. A four-cornered struggle ensued among Ukrainian forces, the counterrevolutionary army of DenikinDenikin, Anton Ivanovich
, 1872–1947, Russian general. The son of a serf, he rose from the ranks. After the Bolshevik Revolution in Nov., 1917 (Oct., 1917, O.S.), he joined General Kornilov, whom he succeeded (1918) as commander of the anti-Bolshevik forces in the south.
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, the Red Army, and the Poles. Soviet troops eventually regained control of Ukraine, which in 1922 became one of the original constituent republics of the USSR.

Ukraine and the USSR

Lenin's attempts to assuage Ukrainian nationalism through a measure of cultural autonomy were abandoned by Stalin, who, afraid of what he perceived as the counterrevolutionary potential of Ukraine, imposed agricultural collectivization on Ukraine in the early 1930s, requisitioned all grain, confiscated food from homes, and restricted trade and travel. Millions of Ukrainians died in the resulting famine, which became known in Ukraine as the Holodomor [Ukr.,=starvation-killing]. Mykola Skrypnyk and other Ukrainian Communist leaders who opposed Stalinist measures were purged and executed. During World War II, many Ukrainians at first welcomed the Germans as liberators and collaborated with them against the USSR, but Nazi scorn for all Slavs and the harsh occupation (1941–44) turned many Ukrainians into anti-German guerrilla fighters.

The republic suffered severe wartime devastation, esp. as a battleground both in 1941–42 (the German advance) and 1943–44 (the Russian advance). Most of Ukraine's 1.5 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the war; many were shot outright in 1941, at such sites as Babi Yar (Ukr. Babyn Yar), outside Kiev. During the war Ukrainian guerrillas fought against both Soviet and German forces, and some anti-Soviet resistance continued until 1953.

Several major territorial changes occurred in Ukraine during and after the war. South Bessarabia, recovered from Romania in 1940, was incorporated into Ukraine, while the former Moldavian ASSR was detached from the republic and merged with central Bessarabia as the Moldavian SSR. The northern parts of Bukovina and Bessarabia were added to Ukraine, as was E Galicia, including Lviv, formally ceded by Poland in 1945. Transcarpathian Region, which had been part of Czechoslovakia since 1919, was also ceded in 1945, thus completing the process by which all Ukrainian lands were united into a single republic. Crimea was annexed to Ukraine in 1954. Although Russification intensified in Ukraine (as in other Soviet republics) after World War II, Ukrainian nationalism remained strong.

During the 1960s, Ukrainians emerged as tacit junior partners of the Russians in governing the Soviet Union. Leonid BrezhnevBrezhnev, Leonid Ilyich
, 1906–82, Soviet leader. He joined (1931) the Communist party and rose steadily in its hierarchy. In 1952 he became a secretary of the party's central committee.
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 was born in Ukraine and held important party posts there before being called to Moscow. Former Soviet ruler Nikita KhrushchevKhrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich
, 1894–1971, Soviet Communist leader, premier of the USSR (1958–64), and first secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union (1953–64).
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, although a Russian by birth, served as first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist party during the 1930s and carried out the Stalinist purges in Ukraine. In 1986 one of the reactors of the ChernobylChernobyl
, Ukr. Chornobyl, abandoned city, N Ukraine, near the Belarus border, on the Pripyat River. Ten miles (16 km) to the north, in the town of Pripyat, is the Chernobyl nuclear power station, site of the worst nuclear reactor disaster in history. On Apr.
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 nuclear power station exploded, contaminating a wide area of Ukraine.

An Independent Nation

The Ukrainian parliament passed a declaration of sovereignty in July, 1990, and in Aug., 1991, declared Ukraine independent of the Soviet Union. Ukraine became a charter member of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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 (CIS) in Dec., 1991. Leonid KravchukKravchuk, Leonid Makarovich
, 1934–, Ukrainian leader, president of Ukraine (1991–94), b. Velyky Zhityn, Ukraine. A political economist and long-time Communist party ideologue, he became chairman of Ukraine's Supreme Soviet in 1990.
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, a former Communist turned nationalist, became Ukraine's first president. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in 1994, and Kravchuk was defeated by Prime Minister Leonid KuchmaKuchma, Leonid Danylovych
, 1938–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (1994–2005). Formerly the manager of the Soviet Union's largest missile factory, he was a member of the Ukrainian Communist party's central committee (1981–91).
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Kuchma implemented a few market reforms, but the economy remained dominated by huge, inefficient state-run companies and did not improve significantly. Ukraine, briefly the world's third largest nuclear power, also ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (1994) and turned its nuclear arsenal over to Russia for destruction (completed 1996); in return, Ukraine received much-needed fuel for its nuclear power plants. The country's economic reforms and cooperation in disarmament helped it gain substantial Western aid and loans.

Tensions continued over the Crimean peninsula, a former Russian territory with a majority Russian population. In 1995, after Crimea challenged the Ukrainian government's sovereignty and threatened to secede, Ukraine placed Crimea's government under national control; its regional assembly, however, was retained. Another contentious issue was the division between Russia and Ukraine of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet, based in the Crimean port of SevastopolSevastopol
, formerly spelled Sebastopol, city (1989 pop. 355,000), on the Crimean peninsula and the Bay of Sevastopol, an inlet of the Black Sea. From 1954 part of Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR), it passed to Russian control in 2014 after the occupation and annexation of
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. A basic agreement, under which four fifths of the fleet would fall under Russian control, was reached in 1995, and in 1997 it was agreed that Russia would be allowed to base its fleet at Sevastopol for 20 years.

Communists won the most seats in the 1998 legislative elections. Kuchma was reelected in 1999 after defeating the Communist candidate, Petro Symonenko, in a runoff, and in December Viktor YushchenkoYushchenko, Viktor Andriyovych,,
1954–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (2005–10), b. Khoruzhivka, Ukraine. A technocrat trained as an accountant and economist, he rose in Ukraine's banking system under Soviet rule, and after Ukrainian independence he
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, the central bank chairman and an advocate of market reforms, was chosen as prime minister. In Apr., 2000, voters in a referendum approved constitutional changes that increased the president's powers over parliament.

In Sept., 2000, a muckraking opposition journalist was murdered. When tape recordings implicating Kuchma in his murder and other abuses of power subsequently were aired, Kuchma's support in parliament eroded, and there were demonstrations in early 2001 calling for his resignation. The government refused to investigate the journalist's death and was accused of suppressing press coverage of the incident. The dismissal of Prime Minister Yushchenko in Apr., 2001, by parliament was a blow to reformers; he was succeeded by Anatoliy Kinakh, an ally of President Kuchma. In the Mar., 2002, parliamentary elections Yushchenko supporters won roughly a quarter of the seats, as did supporters of the president. In November, Kuchma dismissed Kinakh as prime minister and appointed Viktor YanukovychYanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych
, 1950–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (2010–14). The graduate of a mining college and a polytechnic institute (1980), he was a mechanical engineer and member of the Soviet Communist party, and became manager of a
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 to the post.

Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty in Jan., 2003, that defined their common borders everywhere except in the Sea of Azov. In September, Russia began building a sea dike toward Ukraine's Tuzla island in the Kerch Strait (which provides access to the sea), provoking a crisis; a subsequent accord allowed for joint use of the strait, declared Azov an internal body of water, and called for the delimiting of the Russian-Ukrainian border. Also in September, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed an agreement to create a common economic space, but by the time an accord was signed (2009) to establish a customs union Ukraine's relations with Russia had soured and it did not participate.

In Dec., 2003, the Ukrainian supreme court ruled that Kuchma could run for a third term because the election for his first term had occurred before the current constitution took effect. The parliament also approved a constitutional change allowing it, rather than the voters, to elect the president, but opposition and international protests led the legislators to reverse their decision two months later.

The 2004 presidential election appeared to mark a significant turning point for Ukraine, and led to the events known as the "Orange Revolution." The government candidate, Prime Minister Yanukovych, advocated close ties with Russia (and his candidacy was supported by Russian president Putin) while the opposition candidate, former Prime Minister Yushchenko, called for closer ties with the European Union and benefited from increased disillusionment with Kuchma. The October vote resulted in a narrow victory for Yushchenko, who had been poisoned by an unknown assailant during the campaign, but he failed to win a majority, forcing a runoff with Yanukovych. The November balloting was declared a victory for Yanukovych, but both it and the first round were denounced by most observers, who accused the government of holding an undemocratic election. Yushchenko's supporters mounted protests in the streets of Kiev and other W Ukraine cities, where his support was strong. Yushchenko also challenged the results in court. Meanwhile, Yanukovych and his supporters, who were more concentrated in the more heavily Russian east, denounced these moves, and the situation threatened to split Ukraine. Parliament narrowly declared the results invalid, an act with no legal significance, but in December the supreme court annulled the vote due to fraud and called for the runoff to be rerun. Subsequently, the constitution was amended to reduce the president's power to appoint the prime minister and most of the cabinet as part of an electoral reform package.

In late December a new vote resulted in a solid margin of victory for Yushchenko, but the result was not finalized until mid-Jan., 2005, because of legal challenges mounted by Yanukovych. In February Yushchenko appointed Yulia V. TymoshenkoTymoshenko, Yulia Volodymyrivna,
1960–, Ukrainian political leader, prime minister of Ukraine (2005, 2007–10), b. Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk). She studied economics and cybernetics at Dnipropetrovsk State Univ. and began her career at a state-run engineering plant.
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, an outspoken political ally, as prime minister. Seven months later, however, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko's government after conflicts between the cabinet and the presidency and accusations that the president tolerated corruption. The moderate economist Yuriy Yekhanurov succeeded Tymoshenko, but only after the president secured the support of Yanukovych's party by making concessions on investigations into electoral fraud in 2004 presidential election.

A dispute over the price of natural gas purchased from Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, led to a stalemate in late 2005. Ukraine had been purchasing gas at very favorable rates under a contract signed before Yushchenko won the presidency, and Gazprom now demanded a higher, market rate. In Jan., 2006, Gazprom halted its Ukrainian shipments, a move that also partially affected some downstream European customers. Although the dispute was soon resolved, the episode was generally regarded as a heavy-handed Russian response to Yushchenko's victory a year before. Opposition parties subsequently won a no-confidence vote against the cabinet over the agreement, but constitutional ambiguities made it unclear whether the vote had any validity or not.

Parliamentary elections in Mar., 2006, resulted in a setback for President Yushchenko, whose Our Ukraine party placed third, behind Yanukovych's Party of the Regions and the Tymoshenko bloc. In April the three former parties of the Orange Revolution—the Tymoshenko bloc, Our Ukraine, and the Socialist party—agreed to form a coalition government, but the agreement shattered in July as both sides disrupted sessions of parliament and the Socialists bolted for a coalition with the Party of the Regions and the Communists. The three parties nominated Yanukovych as prime minister, but the president initially refused to recognize the new coalition on the grounds that, under the law, it had been formed too soon after the Socialists left their previous coalition. Yushchenko and Yanukovych subsequently signed a unity pact, and Our Ukraine joined the three party coalition led by Yanukovych, who became prime minister in August. In October, however, Our Ukraine left the governing coalition and went into opposition. The same month Ukraine signed a deal with Gazprom to import natural gas at below market-rate prices. In December the president and prime minister became locked in disputes over the budget and foreign minister. The president vetoed the budget several times, and after parliament sacked the foreign and interior ministers, the president issued a decree calling on the foreign minister to stay in office. Parliament responded by passing (Jan., 2007) legislation giving it the right to appoint the foreign minister, which the president contested in court.

The struggle between the prime minister and president reached new crisis point in April when the president dissolved parliament and called for new elections. The previous month a number of deputies allied with the president had joined Yanukovych's coalition, despite legal and constitutional provisions that appeared to forbid such a move (only parties are allowed to form coalitions in parliament), but it also represented a threat to the president's power. The prime minister refused to recognize the president's decree, and appealed it to the constitutional court. The events led the parties on both sides to mount a number of large demonstrations. After the president fired several constitutional court judges for misconduct and after mounting tensions, both sides agreed in late May to September elections, but squabbling continued in months preceding the elections.

Although Yanukovych's party won plurality of the seats in the new parliament, the Tymoshenko bloc and the president's bloc together secured a narrow majority. The president's bloc, however, received less than 15% of the vote and less than half the seats of the Tymoshenko bloc, a significant blow to Yushchenko. The Socialist party, which previously had held the balance of power between the president's supporters and opponents failed to receive enough votes to be awarded any seats. In December, the Tymoshenko and presidential blocs formed a coalition government, with Tymoshenko as prime minister, but the subsequent months often saw Tymoshenko and Yushchenko at odds and tensions in parliament between supporters of the two.

The government's desire to begin the process of joining NATO led in early 2008 to confrontations in parliament with the Party of Regions and also provoked strong opposition from Russia. Both reactions contributed to NATO's decision to postpone (Apr., 2008) establishing an action plan for Ukraine's admission. Ukraine again confronted threatened cuts in its natural gas supplies when Gazprom demanded payment of its debts in Feb., 2008; although cuts were averted then, the following month supplies were reduced for several days when the issue again required resolution. In May, Ukraine became a member of the World Trade Organization.

In Sept., 2008, the governing coalition broke up after Tymoshenko's bloc and the Party of Regions joined together to reduce presidential powers; disagreements between the governing parties concerning how to respond to Russia's invasion of Georgia also led to the collapse. After attempts to reestablish the coalition failed, Yushchenko, despite his relative unpopularity, called for early elections, a move that was actively opposed in parliament and the courts in subsequent weeks by Tymoshenko. Ukraine secured a $16.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund in November; the money was needed to help stabilize Ukraine's currency and private banking system. Some of the disbursements of the loan subsequently were delayed, however, by the parliament's failure to pass the required budget legislaton. The country's industrial sector, especially in E Ukraine, was also hit hard by the global recession. In December, the governing coalition was finally re-formed, this time with the addition of a third, smaller party.

In Jan., 2009, Gazprom again cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine; the issues were largely the same as those three years earlier. The cutoff eventually also led to the stoppage of the flow of gas shipped through Ukraine to other European countries, for which Russia and Ukraine each blamed the other. Central and SE European nations mainly were affected by the stoppage. After three weeks and pressure from the European Union a new, ten-year agreement was reached in which Ukraine secured lower current gas prices in exchange for higher future ones; the EU subsequently agreed to make significant investments in Ukraine's gas infrastructure, prompting a negative response from Russia. A drop in energy needs as a result of a slowing economy led Ukraine in late 2009 to seek modifications in its energy agreement with Russia.

Continuing tensions between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko led to the ouster of the foreign minister in Mar., 2009, and the defense minister in June; both posts are presidential appointments. In April, the parliament set the presidential election for Oct., 2009, but Yushchenko challenged the date as too early, and the constitutional court ruled for the president. In June, the vote was rescheduled for Jan., 2010. Also in June, ongoing negotiations between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych finally ended without an agreement. Relations with Russia remained largely sour, with Russian President Medvedev in August denouncing Yushchenko as anti-Russian, an act seen as an attempt to influence the upcoming presidential election. In Sept., 2009, however, Tymoshenko and Putin agreed in principle to reduce, in light of the recession, Ukraine's required gas purchases under the January agreement.

In the first round (January) of the 2010 presidential election, Yanukovych placed first, with Tymoshenko second, but no candidate won a majority, forcing a runoff (February) that Yanukovych won by a small margin (but he again gained less than 50% of the vote). The vote also evidenced Ukraine's continuing divisions, with Yanukovych winning in the predominantly Russian-speaking east and south, while Tymposhenko ran strongly in the Ukrainian-speaking west and center. Tymoshenko subsequently lost a confidence vote in parliament, and Yanukovych's Party of Regions formed a governing coalition with Mykola Azarov, a former finance minister, as prime minister.

In April, in a rapprochement with Russia, Ukraine agreed to extend Russia's lease on the Sevastopol naval base until 2042 in exchange for what were said to be discounts on Russian natural gas, but in 2012 Azarov acknowledged that the deal did not result in discounts. The new government also rejected pursuing NATO membership while seeking to speed progress toward joining the European Union. In Oct., 2010, the constitutional amendments adopted in Dec., 2004, were overturned on the grounds that they had not been approved by the constitutional court; the decision strengthened the powers of the president.

Later in 2010 Tymoshenko and several other members of her former government were arrested and charged with a variety of criminal offenses, leading the European Union enlargement commissioner to warn (Jan., 2011) Ukraine not to use criminal law for political ends. Additional charges were brought in 2011, and in Oct., 2011, Tymoshenko was convicted of abuse of power and imprisoned. In Mar., 2011, former president Kuchma—Yanukovych's one-time political patron—was charged with abuse of office in the 2000 disappearance and murder of an opposition journalist, but the charges were dismissed in Dec., 2011. Tymoshenko's case directly affected relations with the EU in December when the EU held off signing a cooperation agreement with Ukraine because of the belief that the charges against her were politically motivated; increased cooperation with the EU continued to be stymied by the political situation in Ukraine in subsequent months.

During early 2012 there were natural gas transshipment problems from Russia to Europe, and Russia's Gazprom blamed Ukraine; negotiations in 2011 between the two nations over the price of gas and transshipment issues had been inconclusive. Gazprom subsequently rerouted a significant amount of transshipped gas through Belarus, where it controlled the pipelines. In Feb., 2012, Russia banned cheese imports from several major Ukrainian producers, allegedly over adulteration, but the dispute was seen as an attempt to apply political pressure on Ukraine similar to Russian food-related bans involving other nations. In mid-2012 the government enacted a bill making Russian an official regional language in Russian-speaking areas of the country; the law was denounced by the opposition and by advocates of Ukrainian.

In the Oct., 2012, parliamentary elections the Party of Regions won a plurality of the seats, with Tymoshenko's party second. European and other monitors criticized the election campaign as being less fair than previous ones, the voting was married by irregularities, and the vote count took weeks to complete, leading some monitors and opposition figures to charge the government with attempting to steal elections. The Party of Regions formed a coalition government; Azarov again became prime minister (Dec., 2012). In Apr., 2013, two cabinet members under Tymoshenko who had been convicted of abuse of office were pardoned, but the former prime minister was not.

Trade tensions again flared with Russia in Aug., 2013, over Ukraine's trade negotiations with the European Union, but Ukraine ultimately rejected an agreement with the EU and won improved gas rates and loans from Russia. The failure to sign an EU agreement led in Nov., 2013, to antigovernment demonstrations by protesters who favored joining the EU. The protests, which were marked at times by clashes with security forces, continued into 2014; in January Azarov resigned as prime minister.

In February, after a deal to restore the 2004 constitutional amendments appeared to collapse, protests surged in Kiev and elsewhere, and elicited a stronger, more deadly police response. An agreement to end the crisis, keeping Yanukovych in power until December, was rejected by protesters, and he soon lost the support of the parliament and security forces and fled Ukraine. Oleksander Turchynov became acting president, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk prime minister; the parliament repealed the 2012 regional language law, and Tymoshenko was released. The new government discovered the treasury had been looted under Yanukovych and the country was in dire financial straits.

In Crimea, pro-Russian forces seized government buildings, and in closed-door (and reportedly invalid) votes Crimea's prime minister was replaced and a referendum on joining Russia scheduled. Local "self-defense" forces in conjunction with thinly disguised Russian military forces seized key facilities and surrounded Ukrainian bases in Crimea. The March referendum's reported turnout (80%) and result (99% in favor of joining Russia) was implausible given Crimea's political history and ethnic makeup. Russia quickly annexed the region, and the outnumbered Ukrainian military withdrew.

There also was scattered unrest in E Ukraine, especially in Donetsk, and at the same time, Russia massed troops near the E Ukrainian border, ostensibly for maneuvers, but the troops remained there in subsequent weeks. In April there was a more coordinated outbreak of pro-Russian militancy in E Ukraine, primarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and Russia issued veiled threats that it might intervene militarily. Russian citizens joined the rebels, some in prominent positions, and arms crossed the Russian border to the rebels. Meanwhile, Gazprom hiked the price it charged Ukraine for natural gas, leading to inconclusive negotiations concerning payments and charges for natural gas; in June, Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. In early May Ukraine secured a $17 billion aid package from the International Monetary Fund in return for economic reforms.

Rebels in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions held "referendums" in mid-May that approved self-rule; rebel leaders there then called for union with Russia. Petro Poroshenko, a business executive who had held ministerial posts, easily won election as president in late May; many polling places in SE Ukraine were closed. Government forces began reversing rebel gains significantly in June; also that month, Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU. A government cease-fire in late June was abandoned after no progress was made toward peace. Government forces subsequently made gains in N Donetsk region, and rebels consolidated their forces around Donetsk city. In August and September Russian forces intervened to reverse the gains and force (September) a cease-fire, but the cease-fire suffered from frequent violations, especially around Donetsk, where the rebels sought to recapture territory. There also were small-scale bombings in a number of Kiev, Odessa, and other Ukrainian cities. More than a million were displaced by the fighting by the end of 2014, with many of those fleeing to Russia, and the conflict led to an economic contraction in Ukraine in 2014.

In July, meanwhile, two parties withdrew from the governing coalition in order to force new parliamentary elections. In the October elections, Yatsenyuk's People's Front and the Poroshenko bloc placed first and second, with pro-Western parties generally making a strong showing; a five-party government with Yatsenyuk as prime minister was formed the next month, and subsequently enacted an austerity program and officially abandoned Ukraine's nonaligned status. Also in October, the EU brokered a deal between Ukraine and Russia to restore gas shipments. The rebels held their own vote in November, which won support from Russia, but was denounced by Ukraine as a violation of the cease-fire agreement. The rebel election led to increased tensions in E Ukraine.

Fighting continued into 2015, primarily around Donetsk and Mariupol. A new peace accord signed in Feb., 2015, called for a cease-fire and other measures, including political decentralization for the rebel areas and restoration of government control over the border (both by the end of 2015). Rebels, however, refused to honor the cease-fire around Debaltseve, a key town between Donetsk and Luhansk, and continued to fight there until they held the town; there also was fighting near Mariupol. Subsequently, the cease-fire was violated by recurring fighting, though on a diminished scale after Aug., 2015; Russia was accused of continuing to deploy weapons systems in E Ukraine.

In July, 2015, Ukraine suspended Russian gas purchases, but they resumed in October after an agreement involving Ukraine, Russia, and the EU, then halted again toward the end of November. The country adopted further economic reforms and secured debt write-offs in the second half of 2015; a trade and political pact with the EU also was ratified, but the EU ratification process delayed its coming fully into force until Sept., 2017.

In November, sabotage of electrical transmission lines cut power from Ukraine to Crimea, but some power was restored for a time. In January Ukraine stopped transmission after the contract to supply Crimea expired, but by then Russia had increased the electricity available from local and Russian sources. Also in December, Ukraine ordered a halt to trade with Crimea and refused to repay $3 billion owed to Russia; Ukraine said Russia had refused to renegotiate the terms to bring them in line offered other international creditors.

In 2016 tensions between the president and prime minister undermined Yatsenyuk's government, and led to pressure on the prime minister to stepped down as both sides found themselves accused of frustrating further reforms. In April, Yatsenyuk resigned and was succeeded as prime minister by Volodymyr GroysmanGroysman or Hroysman, Volodymyr Borysovych,
1978–, Ukrainian political leader and businessman. He began working in his father's businesses as a teenager, then became mayor of Vinnytsya (2006–14), where he
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, the parliament speaker and a member of the president's party. Yatsenyuk's party supported the new government.

Beginning in Apr., 2016, there was a significant increase in cease-fire violations in E Ukraine, and some areas subsequently experienced regularly recurring fighting, with particularly heavy fighting in late 2016 and early 2017. In early 2017 an informal commercial blockade of rebel areas by Ukrainian activists and the rebels' subsequent seizure of factories and coal mines in retaliation led to an official Ukrainian commercial blockade of rebel areas in March. A significant cyberattack in June, 2017, that initially affected Ukraine but quickly spread internationally was believed by Ukrainian officials and some others to have been mounted by Russia and disguised as a ransonware attack.

In 2018 the government secured agreement from the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople to move forward with the recognition (2019) of the independence of Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the Russian Orthodox church. In Nov., 2018, tensions with Russia increased after it seized three Ukrainian naval vessels that sought to transit the Kerch Strait to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov; Russia claimed the ships had illegally entered its waters. In May, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that Russia must release the ships and their crews, but it did not. In July, Ukraine seized a Russian tanker in apparent retaliation, asserting that it had taken part in the Russian seizure operation; the Ukrainian crews were released in a prisoner swap in September and the boats later returned.

Volodymyr ZelenskiyZelenskiy, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych,
1978–, Ukrainian political leader and entertainer, president of Ukraine (2019–). He earned a law degree from Kiev National Economic Univ.
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, a political newcomer and popular comedian who trained as a lawyer, defeated Poroshenko in the Apr., 2019, presidential election, winning by a landslide in the runoff. In the subsequent early parliamentary elections (July), Zelenskiy's Servant of the People party won 43% of the vote and a majority of the seats. Oleksiy HoncharukHoncharuk, Oleksiy Valeriyovych,
1984–, Ukrainian political leader. A lawyer who specialized in aspects of real-estate investment and development from 2005, he became in 2015 head of a nongovernmental organization working to improve the business environment in Ukraine.
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 subsequently became prime minister.

In September, Zelenskiy and Ukraine were embroiled in U.S. politics when President Trump was accused of withholding military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate, despite a lack of evidence, accusations Joe Biden and his son had had corrupt dealings in Ukraine and that Ukraine, not Russia, had sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. In October and November forces on both sides were withdrawn from the front lines in E Ukraine, and the following month Ukraine and Russia agreed to implement a comprehensive cease-fire there, though sporadic fighting continued.

In Mar., 2020, Honcharuk resigned after he was criticized by the president, and Denys Shmyhal, the deputy prime minister, succeeded him. A new cease-fire in July, 2020, largely held. In Oct., 2020, the constitutional court overturned a number of anticorruption reforms; controversially, several judges under investigation did not recuse themselves from the case. In December, the parliament voted to restore powers of the anticorruption agency that the court had struck down. Corruption remains a significant problem in Ukraine, and has hindered economic reform.


See R. Szporluk, Ukraine: A Short History (1979); O. Subtelny, Ukraine: A History (1988); I. L. Rudnytsky, Essays in Modern Ukrainian History (1988); J. A. Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism (3d ed. 1990); P. D'Anieri, ed., Orange Revolution and Aftermath (2010); S. Plokhy, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (2015); A. Applebaum, Red Famine (2017).

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Official name: Ukraine

Capital city: Kyiv (Kiev)

 Internet country code: .ua

Flag description: Two equal horizontal bands of azure (top) and golden yellow represent grain fields under a blue sky

National anthem: “Sche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava i volya” (first line in English translation: The glory and fame of Ukraine are still alive), lyrics by Pavlo Chubynsky, music by Mykhailo Verbytsky

Geographical description: Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Poland, Romania, and Moldova in the west and Russia in the east

Total area: 233,000 sq. mi. (603,700 sq. km.)

Climate: Temperate continental; Mediterranean only on the southern Crimean coast; precipitation disproportionately distributed, highest in west and north, lesser in east and southeast; winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland; summers are warm across the greater part of the country, hot in the south

Nationality: noun: Ukrainian(s); adjective: Ukrainian

Population: 46,299,862 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jew­ish 0.2%, other 1.8%

Languages spoken: Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian 24%, other 9% (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hun­garian-speaking minorities)

Religions: Ukrainian Orthodox - Kyiv Patriarchate 19%, Orthodox (no particular jurisdiction) 16%, Ukrainian Orthodox - Moscow Patriarchate 9%, Ukrainian Greek Catholic 6%, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox 1.7%, Protestant, Jewish, none 38%

Legal Holidays:

Constitution DayJun 28
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Independence DayAug 24
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Orthodox ChristmasJan 7
Victory DayMay 9
Women's DayMar 8
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in SE Europe, on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov: ruled by the Khazars (7th--9th centuries), by Ruik princes with the Mongol conquest in the 13th century, then by Lithuania, by Poland, and by Russia; one of the four original republics that formed the Soviet Union in 1922; unilaterally declared independence in 1990, which was recognized in 1991: consists chiefly of lowlands; economy based on rich agriculture and mineral resources and on the major heavy industries of the Donets Basin. Official language: Ukrainian; Russian is also widely spoken. Religion: believers are mainly Christian. Currency: hryvna. Capital: Kiev. Pop.: 48 151 000 (2004 est.). Area: 603 700 sq. km (231 990 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005