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A BRIEF UKRAINIAN HISTORY
Let them enjoy independence.
Much of what follows comes from the Encyclopedia Americana - a set that predates the altering of history by the communist/progressives in the United States.
The Ukraine is situated upon flat steppes without natural barriers to aid in preventing conquerors from gaining easy access. A large part of the country is seacoast which encourages conquest from seaborne raiders while neighboring countries want the coast for their trading ventures. As an added incentive for would-be conquerors, the Ukraine is rich in minerals and agricultural products (it was once the breadbasket of the Soviet Union).
The Ukrainians have their own culture, language, and traditions - and they are are some of the finest physical specimens in the world. They have never attempted to dominate other countries or cause trouble in the world, but have been the target of neighboring nations with either monarchies or dictatorships. This targeting has been caused for three major reasons: (1) greed for the resources of the Ukraine, (2) fear that a democratic republic such as the Ukraine would encourage revolts against the traditions of serfdom, and (3) political intrigue among the neighboring nations.
In the 13th century, the Ukraine was overrun during the Mongol conquest. In the 14th century, Lithuania took control of western and central Ukraine. Although the Lithuanians were not excessively harsh rulers, they soon united with Poland and Poland became dominant. Once the Poles achieved dominancy they began to oppress those in the Ukraine. This oppression was punctuated by Tatar raids. Consequently, the Ukraine became depopulated due to its people being slaughtered and taken in slave raids.
As any oppressed group would do, the Ukrainians took measures to defend themselves. Farmers, hunters, fishermen, and others on the steppes armed themselves and lived a semi-military existence, calling themselves Kuzaks (Cossacks) which means "free warriors".
In the 16th century, the Ukrainian Cossacks created a military state organization called the Zaporozhian Sich. It was located on strongly fortified islands in the Dnieper River. For its members, the warrior organization had absolute democratic equality, obligatory celibacy, and elected officials. In wartime, unlimited power was invested in the highest official (called the "ataman" or "hetman"). The general populace regarded the Zaporozhian Cossacks as their natural defenders against the Tatars and Polish politicians.
The Ukrainian discontent led to several Cossack insurrections, and in 1648 the Hetman, Bogdan Chmielnicki, headed a mass Ukrainian rebellion, using crimean Tatar aid, and freed the Ukrainian territory east of the Dnieper from Poland. At that point the Crimean Tatars deserted to the Polish side. Afterward, the Ukrainians decided that they were too weak to stand alone, and the Hetman summoned a Cossack assembly and asked it to decide which country to join. They voted for Russia.
In 1654, they placed themselves under Russian protection by a treaty with Czar Alexis of Muscovy, the father of Peter the Great. Under the treaty, the Cossacks should number 60,000, elect their own hetman, administer the country, and collect the taxes. The hetman could also conduct foreign relations with the consent of the Russian Czar.
The treaty brought the East Ukrainians from the Polish frying pan into the Russian fire. The Ukrainian democratic ideals and government had been obnoxious to the Polish monarchy, but was even more obnoxious to the autocratic Russians. Three years after the treaty was signed, the hetman died - and Russia began to crush Ukrainian nationalism. The Russians first obliterated the Ukrainian democratic institutions, and the incompetent hetmans along with jealousy among Cossack officers opened wide breaches in Ukrainian solidarity. The Russian officials used all this to their own advantage and Ukrainian autonomy gradually diminished.
In 1708-1709, Hetman Ivan S. Mazeppa allied with the Swedes and led a Ukrainian revolt. The Swedes were defeated and Peter the Great crushed the Ukrainian revolt with brutal force. This brought more Ukrainian territory under Russian rule, and Ukraine as a nation ceased to exist.
Catherine the Great continued Russification of the Ukraine, turning peasants into serfs. In 1774, Russia seized from the Tatars the entire Black Sea coast from the Don to the Bug rivers. In 1775, Catherine destroyed the Zaporozhian Sich and brought more Ukrainian territory under Russian control. In 1792, the territory between the Bug and Dniester rivers was conquered by Turks. The second and third partitions of Poland in 1793 and 1795 gave Russia most of the Ukrainian land west of the Dnieper. However, Ukrainian East Galicia and Bucovina passed under Austro-Hungarian rule. For more than a century, Ukrainian history became part of Russian and Austrian history.
In the mid 19th century, the Austrian government adopted a friendly attitude toward Galicia in order to check Polish preponderance and reduce pressure from Russia in the East. Austria encouraged the ideal of Ukrainian independence with the object of creating a buffer zone by uniting Galicia Ukrainians with their brethren in Russian territory. In 1902, their was a strike against the Polish overlords, demanding that East Galicia be made a separate province of Austro-Hungary. In 1908, the Polish governor of Galicia was assassinated by a Ukrainian student.
Early in World War I, the Russians overran Galicia and made the Russian language obligatory, forbidding the use of the Ukrainian language. In 1915, the Russians were expelled from Galicia by the Austro-German armies. The Central Powers made a bid for Polish support by promising a re-united Poland under Austro-German patronage. This alarmed the Ukrainians and led them to strive anew for independence.
When the Czarist government of Russia was overthrown, a Ukrainian assembly convened at Kiev, established a Ukrainian government, and advocated a union with the new Russian government. The offer was turned down by the new Russian government - and then the Bolsheviks took power under Lenin. The Bolsheviks declared that any part of the former Russian empire could secede, and the Ukrainians declared themselves an independent republic.
During the next three years, the Ukraine was invaded and torn by internal strife. Germany and Austro-Hungary seized the Ukraine and installed a puppet hetman. After Germany was defeated, the French landed at Odessa in an attempt to make Ukraine a French possession. There was a fight between White Russian generals and the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine, and the Poles invaded. By 1920, the Bolsheviks had a soviet Ukraine, the Poles had Galicia, and Carpathian Ruthenia was taken by Czechoslovakia. The soviet Ukraine was reduced to another part of Soviet Russia.
Soviet rule did much to develop the Ukraine by making more Ukrainians literate, diversifying agriculture, and expanding industry. However, the desire for Ukrainian independence remained. In 1933, members of a Ukrainian nationalist military organization were discovered in ministries of the Ukrainian Soviet government. A high death toll in the 1933-1934 collectivization famine strengthened peasant dislike for communism [this was when land was taken from peasant farmers and put under control of communist committees who knew nothing about farming]. Even USSR annexation to the Ukraine of Galicia in 1939 and North Bucovina (from Rumania) in 1940 did not soothe Ukrainian anti-sovietism.
When Hitler invaded the Ukraine in 1941, many Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis and even volunteered to work in Germany. But German retention of collective farms, conscription of slave labor, and suppression of freedom soon alienated the Ukrainians, who formed large guerilla detachments that first fought the Nazis and later the returning Red Army. The war had devastated the Ukraine, destroying 60 percent of its tractors, 60 percent of its cattle, 80 percent of its industry, and 83 percent of its skilled workers.
The postwar soviet regime rebuilt Ukrainian industry, fostered agriculture, and constructed much housing. The USSR also gave it Ruthenia (from Czechoslovakia) and a seat in the United Nations (1945). But simultaneously the Ukrainian Communist Party and governmental heirarchy were purged down to the village level in an attempt to suppress Ukrainian nationalism.
In 1952, Ukrainian nationalist guerillas continued to fight communism in West Ukraine and Polish-Slovak Carpathian borderlands. The USSR press made periodic attacks on Soviet Ukrainian literature for its nationalism. Yet some ranked high in USSR officialdom.
There was another revolution in Russia in 1991 - the first since that in 1917. The Ukraine and the other Soviet republics were freed from their Russian masters.
Unfortunately, as time passed, those who were most adept in the past in the Communist Party political arena changed a few names and took over once again, attempting to reconstruct the old Soviet Union with headquarters in Moscow. They forced the Ukraine, the chief contributor of agricultural and mineral wealth, to cooperate and to give Russia their naval base and port on the Black Sea. By a combination of force and and charging exhorbitant prices for oil they proceeded to essentially "own" most of what had been the old USSR. The Russian secret police which had many names in its various incarnations, was kept in force without appreciable changes in personnel. Where there is a power vacuum, a tradition of subservience, and those ambitious and near enough to capture the fold, there will always be sheep and wolves to prey upon them.
Vladimir Putin, once the head of the KGB, became the defacto head of Russia. He has remained in power through various nefarious means and has the goal of rebuilding the old USSR. In pursuit of his goal, he has been careful to be certain that the populations of the nations that comprised the old USSR are at least a third Russian. [When the subject countries were acquired - often by force - the soviets removed about a third of each subject country and placed them elsewhere. These were replaced by Russians when possible. This reduced the nationalism of the subject countries and gave Russia the excuse to move militarily against them to "protect Russian citizens". Putin did just that when Georgia began to give him difficulties.
Recently, the puppet president of the Ukraine was ousted by a Ukrainian rebellion. The straw that broke the camel's back was the president's willingness to satisfy Putin by keeping the Ukraine under Russian domination when the Ukrainians wanted to join the European Union. In short, the Ukrainians were fed up with communist-style dictatorship - and dictatorship in general.
Today, February 27, 2014, Putin is threatening to crush the Ukrainian rebellion by using the same old excuse of protecting his citizens in the eastern part of the Ukraine. He is setting up armed forces near the Ukrainian border in a "military exercise". It is doubtful that the Obama adminstration can make any difference even if the despicable communist rabbit in the White House would make an attempt.
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