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HistoryHistory of Ukraine is a broad subject. It can be conditionally divided into nine periods: early history, princes’ period, Ukraine in 1340 - 1648, Cossack state, Ukraine as a part of Russia and Austria-Hungary, Ukrainian state in 1917-1920, Ukraine in 1920-1939, Ukraine in the World War II, Ukraine in the after-war period of 1945-1991.

The formation of Ukrainian state was a long process. Some historians consider the most ancient people on the Southern territory of Ukraine were Cimmerians. They were nomads who inhabited steppe Prychernomorie. In 7th century BC they were ousted by Scythians. Later, after the decline of Scythian state, Ukrainian Prychernomorie was populated by Sarmatians — Iranian-lingual nomad tribes. Their stay here is testified by a wide-spread Sarmatian toponym “dn” (“water”): Dnipro, Dniester, Danube, Don.

In 3-4th centuries AD today’s forest-steppe and forest zones were inhabited by Eastern Slavic tribes. While in 6th century AD a territory from the mixed forests to the Black sea and from the Don to the Carpathians was occupied by the Slavic tribes of Ants.

According to Michael Grushevsky a threshold of Ukrainian history was in 4th century AD. Before this time we can only talk about Ukrainian tribes as part of Slavic tribes.

In 8-9th centuries Slavic tribes of Polyans, Drevlyans, Siveryans, Tiverts, Dulibs, White Croatians united into a state called Kievan Rus. After Mongol-Tatar invasion to Kievan Rus Ukrainian statehood continued for some time in the western part of the country embodied in Galitsko-Volynske principality led by Danylo Galitsky.

However in the middle of 14th century Ukrainian state disintegrated, its lands came into dependence on Lithuania and later were taken by Poland. At the end of 15th century Zaporizhian Sich appeared — a Cossack state ruled by hetmans elected by simple majority. It became a centre of Ukrainian people’s struggle against the oppression of Polish gentry. In 17th century this struggle developed into a national liberation war led by Bogdan Khmelnitsky which led to a revival of the Ukrainian statehood. In at attempt to preserve Ukrainian statehood Bogdan Khmelnitsky was forced to conclude a treaty with Moscow State and it became disastrous for the independence of Ukraine.

Moscow concluded a treaty with Poland according to which Ukraine was divided into two parts along the Dnipro. Its left bank and Kyiv were taken by Moscow State while its right bank was taken by Poland. In 18th century western Ukrainian land were taken by Austria-Hungary. After the February Revolution in 1917 there were certain conditions in Russia which made possible a reunion of Ukrainian people and a formation of Ukrainian state. On November 7, 1917 Ukrainian People's Republic was announced to have been created in Kyiv. It incorporated lands of central and eastern Ukraine.

In opposition to this act on December 25, 1917 there was held the First All-Ukrainian Soviet Congress was held in Kharkiv which proclaimed Soviet Republic of Ukraine. On November 13, 1918 patriotic democratic parties proclaimed Western Ukrainian People’s Republic. On January 22, 1919 there was a reunion of Western Ukrainian People’s Republic and Ukrainian People's Republic in a whole state under ancient Ukrainian symbols – trizub as a coat of arms and yellow and blue flag. Unfortunately Ukrainian government did not manage to preserve this state. With the help of Russian armies Bolsheviks conquered Eastern Ukraine and appended it in 1922 to the newly-formed USSR. Western Ukraine remained under Poland’s rule.

In 1939 according to a secret agreement between fascist Germany and Kremlin leaders Poland was divided and Western Ukraine lands ere appended to the USSR along with the rest of Ukrainian territory. In 1940 Romania returned North Bukovina and South Bessarabia which also became a part of Soviet Republic of Ukraine. According to a treaty of 1945 between Czechoslovakia and the USSR Soviet Republic of Ukraine incorporated Zakarpatska oblast as well. Taking into account territorial proximity, historical past and close economic and cultural connections Verkhovny Sovet decided in 1954 to include the Crimea to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine. In such a way the formation of the modern territory of Ukraine was completed.

Nowadays there are 24 administrative oblasts and the autonomous republic of Crimea in Ukraine.
Dmytro Chernenko
19.10.2009

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