Ukraine

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Posted by pompos 04/13/2009 @ 16:10

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'Ukraine Is Game to You!?' - New York Times
By Jeffrey Marcus Associated Press The OSK Metalist stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine, photographed in April, is still under construction. In the game of Risk and, it appears, in the eyes of UEFA, Ukraine is weak. Half of the joint bid to host the 2012...
Ukraine: Minister Resigns After Airport Incident - New York Times
By CLIFFORD J. LEVY Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko resigned Tuesday after being accused of drunken behavior last week at an airport in Germany. He denied that he had been intoxicated, and said in a statement that he was the victim of a “dirty...
Ukraine court rules election date unconstitutional - eTaiwan News
AP A leading court in Ukraine says an autumn date set by parliament for the next presidential election is unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court's ruling adds to political turmoil in the ex-Soviet republic. President Viktor Yushchenko had...
Ukraine to issue hryvnia bonds at market yields - Reuters
KIEV, May 12 (Reuters) - Ukraine's finance ministry will start issuing hryvnia bonds at yields set by the market in hopes of reviving the domestic debt market, a deputy finance minister said on Tuesday. The ministry had been setting bond yields on its...
Letter From Europe Energy Trade in East Calls for Scrutiny - New York Times
Ever since Russia stopped gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006, and again last January when parts of Central Europe and the Balkans were left without heating for several days, the EU has been touting the need for an energy security policy....
India thrash Scotland at badminton's Sudirman Cup - AFP
They beat Scotland 5-0 at the world mixed team championships in Guangzhou, China, having seen off Australia and Ukraine in similarly emphatic fashion. India now go into the play-offs on Thursday as the form team and strong favourites to get promoted to...
Moody's cuts Ukraine, capital controls a threat - guardian.co.uk
By Natalya Zinets KIEV, May 12 (Reuters) - Moody's downgraded Ukraine's foreign and local currency government bond ratings to B2 from B1 with a "negative" outlook on Tuesday, citing a deteriorating macroeconomic situation and uncertainty over capital...
Nazi-run camp where Demjanjuk allegedly worked - The Associated Press
Later, guards also killed those inmates forced to work at the camp, located near Nazi-occupied Poland's eastern border with Ukraine. Franz Stangl ran the camp for the first six months, overseeing some 30 SS officers as well as Ukrainian guards....
Couple Lucky to Be Alive After Eating Deadly Fish Given to Them as ... - FOXNews
The 47-year-olds, immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, were admitted to a hospital in northern Israel on Saturday in comatose states after preparing and eating fried blowfish. They regained consciousness in the ICU Monday. “From what they have been able...
Swedbank seeks to sell Ukrainian unit stake to EBRD, stays in Baltics - Baltic Business News
“We want to cooperate with the EBRD in eastern Europe, with a focus on Ukraine, as they already own 15 percent of our Russian unit,” spokesman Thomas Backteman said by telephone today. “We'll also consider other solutions under commercial terms with...

Ukraine

Flag of Ukraine

Ukraine /juːˈkreɪn/ (help·info) (Ukrainian: Україна, transliterated: Ukrayina, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the east; Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the southwest; and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south. The city of Kiev (Kyiv) is both the capital and the largest city of Ukraine.

The nation's modern history began with that of the East Slavs. From at least the 9th century, the territory of Ukraine was a center of the medieval East Slavic civilization. This state, known as the Kievan Rus' became the largest and most powerful nation in Europe, but disintegrated in the 12th century. From the 14th century on, the territory of Ukraine was divided among a number of regional powers, and by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire, with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. After a chaotic period of incessant warfare and several attempts at independence (1917–21) following World War I and the Russian Civil War, Ukraine emerged in 1922 as one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's territory was enlarged westward shortly before and after World War II, and again in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the co-founding members of the United Nations. Ukraine became independent again after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This began a period of transition to a market economy, in which Ukraine was stricken with an eight year recession. But since then, the economy has been experiencing a stable increase with GDP growth averaging 24 percent annually.

Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status: Kiev, its capital, and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine continues to maintain the second largest military in Europe, after that of Russia. The country is home to 46.2 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Belarusians and Romanians. The Ukrainian language is the only official language in Ukraine, while Russian is also widely spoken. The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.

Human settlement in the territory of Ukraine dates back to at least 4500 BC, when the Neolithic Cucuteni culture flourished in a wide area that covered parts of modern Ukraine including Trypillia and the entire Dnieper-Dniester region. During the Iron Age, the land was inhabited by Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians. Between 700 BC and 200 BC it was part of the Scythian Kingdom, or Scythia. Later, colonies of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and the Byzantine Empire, such as Tyras, Olbia, and Hermonassa, were founded, beginning in the 6th century BC, on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and thrived well into the 6th century AD. The Goths stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s AD. In the 7th century AD, the territory of eastern Ukraine was the center of Old Great Bulgaria. At the end of the century, the majority of Bulgar tribes migrated in different directions and the land fell into the Khazars' hands.

In the 9th century, much of modern-day Ukraine was populated by the Rus' people who formed the Kievan Rus'. Kievan Rus' included nearly all territory of modern Ukraine, Belarus, with larger part of it situated on the territory of modern Russia. During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became the largest and most powerful state in Europe. In the following centuries, it laid the foundation for the national identity of Ukrainians and Russians. Kiev, the capital of modern Ukraine, became the most important city of the Rus'. According to the Primary Chronicle, the Rus' elite initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia. The Varangians later became assimilated into the local Slavic population and became part of the Rus' first dynasty, the Rurik Dynasty. Kievan Rus' was composed of several principalities ruled by the interrelated Rurikid Princes. The seat of Kiev, the most prestigious and influential of all principalities, became the subject of many rivalries among Rurikids as the most valuable prize in their quest for power.

The Golden Age of Kievan Rus' began with the reign of Vladimir the Great (980–1015), who turned Rus' toward Byzantine Christianity. During the reign of his son, Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054), Kievan Rus' reached the zenith of its cultural development and military power. This was followed by the state's increasing fragmentation as the relative importance of regional powers rose again. After a final resurgence under the rule of Vladimir Monomakh (1113–1125) and his son Mstislav (1125–1132), Kievan Rus' finally disintegrated into separate principalities following Mstislav's death.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north. The 13th century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus'. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240. On the Ukrainian territory, the state of Kievan Rus' was succeeded by the principalities of Galich (Halych) and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, which were merged into the state of Galicia-Volhynia.

In the mid-14th century, Galicia-Volhynia was subjugated by Casimir the Great of Poland, while the heartland of Rus', including Kiev, fell under the Gediminas of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Battle on the Irpen' River. Following the 1386 Union of Krevo, a dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania, most of Ukraine's territory was controlled by the increasingly Ruthenized local Lithuanian nobles as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At this time, the term Ruthenia and Ruthenians as the Latinized versions of "Rus'", became widely applied to the land and the people of Ukraine, respectively.

By 1569, the Union of Lublin formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and a significant part of Ukrainian territory was moved from largely Ruthenized Lithuanian rule to the Polish administration, as it was transferred to the Polish Crown. Under the cultural and political pressure of Polonisation much of the Ruthenian upper class converted to Catholicism and became indistinguishable from the Polish nobility. Thus, the Ukrainian commoners, deprived of their native protectors among Ruthenian nobility, turned for protection to the Cossacks, who remained fiercely orthodox at all times and tended to turn to violence against those they perceived as enemies, particularly the Polish state and its representatives.

In the mid-17th century, a Cossack military quasi-state, the Zaporozhian Host, was established by the Dnieper Cossacks and the Ruthenian peasants fleeing Polish serfdom. Poland had little real control of this land, yet they found the Cossacks to be a useful fighting force against the Turks and Tatars, and at times the two allied in military campaigns. However, the continued enserfment of peasantry by the Polish nobility emphasized by the Commonwealth's fierce exploitation of the workforce, and most importantly, the suppression of the Orthodox Church pushed the allegiances of Cossacks away from Poland. Their aspiration was to have representation in Polish Sejm, recognition of Orthodox traditions and the gradual expansion of the Cossack Registry. These were all vehemently denied by the Polish nobility. The Cossacks eventually turned for protection to Orthodox Russia, a decision which would later lead towards the downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian state, and the preservation of the Orthodox Church and in Ukraine.

In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the largest of the Cossack uprisings against the Commonwealth and the Polish king John II Casimir. Left-bank Ukraine was eventually integrated into Russia as the Cossack Hetmanate, following the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav and the ensuing Russo-Polish War. After the partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century by Prussia, Habsburg Austria, and Russia, Western Ukrainian Galicia was taken over by Austria, while the rest of Ukraine was progressively incorporated into the Russian Empire. After the annexation of the Crimean Khanate in 1783, the region was settled by migrants from other parts of Ukraine. Despite the promises of Ukrainian autonomy given by the Treaty of Pereyaslav, the Ukrainian elite and the Cossacks never received the freedoms and the autonomy they were expecting from Imperial Russia. However, within the Empire, Ukrainians rose to the highest offices of Russian state, and the Russian Orthodox Church. At a later period, the tsarist regime carried the policy of Russification of Ukrainian lands, suppressing the use of the Ukrainian language in print, and in public.

Ukraine entered World War I on the side of both the Central Powers, under Austria, and the Triple Entente, under Russia. 3.5 million Ukrainians fought with the Imperial Russian Army, while 250,000 fought for the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the war, Austro-Hungarian authorities established the Ukrainian Legion to fight against the Russian Empire. This legion was the foundation of the Ukrainian Galician Army that fought against the Bolsheviks and Poles in the post World War I period (1919–23). Those suspected of the Russophile sentiments in Austria were treated harshly. Up to 5,000 supporters of the Russian Empire from Galicia were detained and placed in Austrian internment camps in Talerhof, Styria, and in a fortress at Terezín (now in the Czech Republic).

With the collapse of the Russian and Austrian empires following World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Ukrainian national movement for self-determination reemerged. During 1917–20, several separate Ukrainian states briefly emerged: the Ukrainian People's Republic, the Hetmanate, the Directorate and the pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (or Soviet Ukraine) successively established territories in the former Russian Empire; while the West Ukrainian People's Republic emerged briefly in the former Austro-Hungarian territory. In the midst of Civil War, an anarchist movement called the Black Army led by Nestor Makhno also developed in Southern Ukraine. However with Western Ukraine's defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War followed by the failure of the further Polish offensive that was repelled by the Bolsheviks. According to the Peace of Riga concluded between the Soviets and Poland, western Ukraine was officially incorporated into Poland who in turn recognised the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in March 1919, that later became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the Soviet Union in December, 1922.

The revolution that brought the Soviet government to power devastated Ukraine. It left over 1.5 million people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Soviet Ukraine had to face the famine of 1921. Seeing the exhausted society, the Soviet government remained very flexible during the 1920s. Thus, the Ukrainian culture and language enjoyed a revival, as Ukrainisation became a local implementation of the Soviet-wide Korenisation (literally indigenisation) policy. The Bolsheviks were also committed to introducing universal health care, education and social-security benefits, as well as the right to work and housing. Women's rights were greatly increased through new laws aimed to wipe away centuries-old inequalities. Most of these policies were sharply reversed by the early-1930s after Joseph Stalin gradually consolidated power to become the de facto communist party leader and a dictator of the Soviet Union.

Starting from the late 1920s, Ukraine was involved in the Soviet industrialisation and the republic's industrial output quadrupled in the 1930s. However, the industrialisation had a heavy cost for the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation. To satisfy the state's need for increased food supplies and to finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture as the state combined the peasants' lands and animals into collective farms and enforcing the policies by the regular troops and secret police. Those who resisted were arrested and deported and the increased production quotas were placed on the peasantry. The collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. As the members of the collective farms were not allowed to receive any grain until the unachievable quotas were met, starvation in the Soviet Union became widespread. In 1932–33, millions starved to death in a man-made famine known as Holodomor. Scholars are divided as to whether this famine fits the definition of genocide, but the Ukrainian parliament and more than a dozen other countries recognise it as such.

The times of industrialisation and Holodomor also coincided with the Soviet assault on the national political and cultural elite often accused in "nationalist deviations". Two waves of Stalinist political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union (1929–34 and 1936–38) resulted in the killing of some 681,692 people; this included four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite and three quarters of all the Red Army's higher-ranking officers.

Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became reunited with the rest of Ukraine. The unification that Ukraine achieved for the first time in its history was a decisive event in the history of the nation.

After France surrendered to Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina, and the Soviet-occupied Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. All these territorial gains were internationally recognised by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.

German armies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, thereby initiating four straight years of incessant total war. The Axis allies initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, the city was acclaimed as a "Hero City", for the fierce resistance by the Red Army and by the local population. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one quarter of the Western Front) were killed or taken captive there. Although the wide majority of Ukrainians fought alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground created an anti-Soviet nationalist formation in Galicia, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942) that at times engaged the Nazi forces and continued to fight the USSR in the years after the war. Using guerilla war tactics, the insurgents targeted for assassination and terror those who they perceived as representing, or cooperating at any level with, the Soviet state. At the same time another nationalist movement fought alongside the Nazis. In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians that fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million. The pro-Soviet partisan guerilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944; with about 50 percent of them being ethnic Ukrainians. Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army's figures are very undependable, ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as much as 100,000 fighters.

Initially, the Germans were even received as liberators by some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939. However, brutal German rule in the occupied territories eventually turned its supporters against the occupation. Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population of Ukrainian territories' dissatisfaction with Stalinist political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported others to work in Germany, and began a systematic depopulation of Ukraine to prepare it for German colonisation, which included a food blockade on Kiev.

The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front, and Nazi Germany suffered 93 percent of all casualties there. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.7 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians. So to this day, Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.

The republic was heavily damaged by the war, and it required significant efforts to recover. More than 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages were destroyed. The situation was worsened by a famine in 1946–47 caused by the drought and the infrastructure breakdown that took away tens of thousands of lives.

Following the death of Stalin in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the new leader of the USSR. Being the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukrainian SSR in 1938-49, Khrushchev was intimately familiar with the republic and after taking power union-wide, he began to emphasize the friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. In 1954, the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav was widely celebrated, and in particular, Crimea was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Already by 1950, the republic fully surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production. During the 1946-1950 five year plan nearly 20 percent of the Soviet budget was invested in Soviet Ukraine, a five percent increase from prewar plans. As a result the Ukrainian workforce rose 33.2 percent from 1940 to 1955 while industrial output grew 2.2 times in that same period. Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production. It also became an important center of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev, who would later oust Khrushchev and become the Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet sportspeople, scientists and artists. On April 26, 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history. At the time of the accident seven million people lived in the contaminated territories, including 2.2 million in Ukraine. After the accident, a new city, Slavutych, was built outside the exclusion zone to house and support the employees of the plant which was decommissioned in 2000. A report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization attributed 56 direct deaths to the accident and estimated that there may have been 4,000 extra cancer deaths.

On July 16, 1990, the new parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The declaration established the principles of the self-determination of the Ukrainian nation, its democracy, political and economic independence, and the priority of Ukrainian law on the Ukrainian territory over Soviet law. A month earlier, a similar declaration was adopted by the parliament of the Russian SFSR. This started a period of confrontation between the central Soviet, and new republican authorities. In August 1991, a conservative faction among the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union attempted a coup to remove Mikhail Gorbachev and to restore the Communist party's power. After the attempt failed, on August 24, 1991 the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Act of Independence in which the parliament declared Ukraine as an independent democratic state. A referendum and the first presidential elections took place on December 1, 1991. That day, more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian people expressed their support for the Act of Independence, and they elected the chairman of the parliament, Leonid Kravchuk to serve as the first President of the country. At the meeting in Brest, Belarus on December 8, followed by Alma Ata meeting on December 21, the leaders of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, formally dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Ukraine was initially viewed as a republic with favorable economic conditions in comparison to the other regions of the Soviet Union. However, the country experienced deeper economic slowdown than some of the other former Soviet Republics. During the recession, Ukraine lost 60 percent of its GDP from 1991 to 1999, and suffered five-digit inflation rates. Dissatisfied with the economic conditions, as well as crime and corruption, Ukrainians protested and organised strikes.

The Ukrainian economy stabilized by the end of the 1990s. A new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced in 1996. Since 2000, the country has enjoyed steady real economic growth averaging about seven percent annually. A new Constitution of Ukraine was adopted in 1996, which turned Ukraine into a semi-presidential republic and established a stable political system. Kuchma was, however, criticized by opponents for concentrating too much of power in his office, corruption, transferring public property into hands of loyal oligarchs, discouraging free speech, and electoral fraud. In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, then Prime Minister, was declared the winner of the presidential elections, which had been largely rigged, as the Supreme Court of Ukraine later ruled. The results caused a public outcry in support of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, who challenged the results and led the peaceful Orange Revolution. The revolution brought Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko to power, while casting Viktor Yanukovych in opposition.

Ukraine is a republic under a mixed semi-parliamentary semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is the formal head of state.

Ukraine's legislative branch includes the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament is primarily responsible for the formation of the executive branch and the Cabinet of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister.

Laws, acts of the parliament and the cabinet, presidential decrees, and acts of the Crimean parliament may be abrogated by the Constitutional Court, should they be found to violate the Constitution of Ukraine. Other normative acts are subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court is the main body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction. Local self-government is officially guaranteed. Local councils and city mayors are popularly elected and exercise control over local budgets. The heads of regional and district administrations are appointed by the president.

Ukraine has a large number of political parties, many of which have tiny memberships and are unknown to the general public. Small parties often join in multi-party coalitions (electoral blocs) for the purpose of participating in parliamentary elections.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited a 780,000 man military force on its territory, equipped with the third-largest nuclear weapon arsenal in the world. In May 1992, Ukraine signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons to Russia for "disposal" and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. Ukraine ratified the treaty in 1994, and by 1996 the country became free of nuclear weapons. Currently Ukraine's military is the second largest in Europe, after that of Russia.

Ukraine took consistent steps toward reduction of conventional weapons. It signed the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which called for reduction of tanks, artillery, and armoured vehicles (army forces were reduced to 300,000). The country plans to convert the current conscript-based military into a professional volunteer military not later than in 2011.

Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Ukrainian troops are deployed in Kosovo as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion. A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Lebanon, as part of UN Interim Force enforcing the mandated ceasefire agreement. There was also a maintenance and training battalion deployed in Sierra Leone. In 2003–05, a Ukrainian unit was deployed in Iraq, as part of the Multinational force in Iraq under Polish command. The total Ukrainian military deployment around the world is 562 servicemen.

Following independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state. The country has had a limited military partnership with Russia, other CIS countries and a partnership with NATO since 1994. In the 2000s, the government was leaning towards the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and a deeper cooperation with the alliance was set by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002. It was later agreed that the question of joining NATO should be answered by a national referendum at some point in the future.

The system of Ukrainian subdivisions reflects the country's status as a unitary state (as stated in the country's constitution) with unified legal and administrative regimes for each unit.

Ukraine is subdivided into twenty-four oblasts (provinces) and one autonomous republic (avtonomna respublika), Crimea. Additionally, the cities of Kiev, the capital, and Sevastopol, both have a special legal status. The 24 oblasts and Crimea are subdivided into 490 raions (districts), or second-level administrative units. The average area of a Ukrainian raion is 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi); the average population of a raion is 52,000 people.

Urban areas (cities) can either be subordinated to the state (as in the case of Kiev and Sevastopol), the oblast or raion administrations, depending on their population and socio-economic importance. Lower administrative units include urban-type settlements, which are similar to rural communities, but are more urbanized, including industrial enterprises, educational facilities, and transport connections, and villages.

In total, Ukraine has 457 cities, 176 of them are labeled oblast-class, 279 smaller raion-class cities, and two special legal status cities. These are followed by 886 urban-type settlements and 28,552 villages.

At 603,700 square kilometres (233,100 sq mi) and with a coastline of 2,782 square kilometres (1,074 sq mi), Ukraine is the world's 44th-largest country (after the Central African Republic, before Madagascar). It is the second largest country in Europe (after the European part of Russia, before metropolitan France).

The Ukrainian landscape consists mostly of fertile plains (or steppes) and plateaus, crossed by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester and the Southern Buh as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the delta of the Danube forms the border with Romania. The country's only mountains are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, of which the highest is the Hora Hoverla at 2,061 metres (6,760 ft), and those on the Crimean peninsula, in the extreme south along the coast.

Ukraine has a mostly temperate continental climate, although a more Mediterranean climate is found on the southern Crimean coast. Precipitation is disproportionately distributed; it is highest in the west and north and lowest in the east and southeast. Western Ukraine, receives around 1,200 millimetres (47 in) of precipitation annually, while Crimea receives around 400 millimetres (16 in). Winters vary from cool along the Black Sea to cold farther inland. Average annual temperatures range from 5.5–7 °C (42–45 °F) in the north, to 11–13 °C (52–55.4 °F) in the south.

In Soviet times, the economy of Ukraine was the second largest in the Soviet Union, being an important industrial and agricultural component of the country's planned economy. With the collapse of the Soviet system, the country moved from a planned economy to a market economy. The transition process was difficult for the majority of the population which plunged into poverty. Ukraine's economy contracted severely following the years after the Soviet collapse. Day to day life for the average person living in Ukraine was a struggle. A significant number of citizens in rural Ukraine survived by growing their own food, often working two or more jobs and buying the basic necessities through the barter economy.

In 1991, the government liberalized most prices to combat widespread product shortages, and was successful in overcoming the problem. At the same time, the government continued to subsidize government-owned industries and agriculture by uncovered monetary emission. The loose monetary policies of the early 1990s pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels. For the year 1993, Ukraine holds the world record for inflation in one calendar year. Those living on fixed incomes suffered the most. Prices stabilized only after the introduction of new currency, the hryvnia, in 1996.

The country was also slow in implementing structural reforms. Following independence, the government formed a legal framework for privatisation. However, widespread resistance to reforms within the government and from a significant part of the population soon stalled the reform efforts. A large number of government-owned enterprises were exempt from the privatisation process. In the meantime, by 1999, the GDP had fallen to less than 40 percent of the 1991 level, but recovered to slightly above the 100 percent mark by the end of 2006. In the early 2000s, the economy showed strong export-based growth of 5 to 10 percent, with industrial production growing more than 10 percent per year. Ukraine was hit by the economic crisis of 2008 and in November 2008, the IMF approved a stand-by loan of $16.5 billion for the country.

Ukraine's 2007 GDP (PPP), as calculated by the CIA, is ranked 29th in the world and estimated at $359.9 billion. Its GDP per capita in 2008 according to the CIA was $7,800 (in PPP terms), ranked 83rd in the world. Nominal GDP (in U.S. dollars, calculated at market exchange rate) was $198 billion, ranked 41st in the world. By July 2008 the average nominal salary in Ukraine reached 1,930  hryvnias per month. Despite remaining lower than in neighbouring central European countries, the salary income growth in 2008 stood at 36.8 percent According to the UNDP in 2003 4.9 percent of the Ukrainian population lived under 2 US dollar a day and 19.5 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line that same year.

Ukraine produces nearly all types of transportation vehicles and spacecraft. Antonov airplanes and KrAZ trucks are exported to many countries. The majority of Ukrainian exports are marketed to the European Union and CIS. Since independence, Ukraine has maintained its own space agency, the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU). Ukraine became an active participant in scientific space exploration and remote sensing missions. Between 1991 and 2007, Ukraine has launched six self made satellites and 101 launch vehicles, and continues to design spacecraft. So to this day, Ukraine is recognised as a world leader in producing missiles and missile related technology.

The country imports most energy supplies, especially oil and natural gas, and to a large extent depends on Russia as its energy supplier. While 25 percent of the natural gas in Ukraine comes from internal sources, about 35 percent comes from Russia and the remaining 40 percent from Central Asia through transit routes that Russia controls. At the same time, 85 percent of the Russian gas is delivered to Western Europe through Ukraine.

The World Bank classifies Ukraine as a middle-income state. Significant issues include underdeveloped infrastructure and transportation, corruption and bureaucracy. In 2007 the Ukrainian stock market recorded the second highest growth in the world of 130 percent. According to the CIA, in 2006 the market capitalisation of the Ukrainian stock market was $111.8 billion. Growing sectors of the Ukrainian economy include the information technology (IT) market, which topped all other Central and Eastern European countries in 2007, growing some 40 percent.

Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity, which is the dominant religion in the country. Gender roles also tend to be more traditional, and grandparents play a greater role in raising children than in the West. The culture of Ukraine has been also influenced by its eastern and western neighbours, which is reflected in its architecture, music and art.

The Communist era had quite a strong effect on the art and writing of Ukraine. In 1932, Stalin made socialist realism state policy in the Soviet Union when he promulgated the decree "On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organisations". This greatly stifled creativity. During the 1980s glasnost (openness) was introduced and Soviet artists and writers again became free to express themselves as they wanted.

The tradition of the Easter egg, known as pysanky, has long roots in Ukraine. These eggs were drawn on with wax to create a pattern; then, the dye was applied to give the eggs their pleasant colours, the dye did not affect the previously wax-coated parts of the egg. After the entire egg was dyed, the wax was removed leaving only the colourful pattern. This tradition is thousands of years old, and precedes the arrival of Christianity to Ukraine. In the city of Kolomya near the foothills of the Carpathian mountains in 2000 was built the museum of Pysanka which won a nomination as the monument of modern Ukraine in 2007, part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine action.

The traditional Ukrainian diet includes chicken, pork, beef, fish and mushrooms. Ukrainians also tend to eat a lot of potatoes, grains, fresh and pickled vegetables. Popular traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese or cherries), borscht (soup made of beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) and holubtsy (stuffed cabbage rolls filled with rice, carrots and meat). Ukrainian specialties also include Chicken Kiev and Kiev Cake. Ukrainians drink stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (they make cottage cheese from this), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine and horilka.

According to the Constitution, the state language of Ukraine is Ukrainian. Russian, which was the de facto official language of the Soviet Union, is widely spoken, especially in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian. Most native Ukrainian speakers know Russian as a second language.

These details result in a significant difference across different survey results, as even a small restating of a question switches responses of a significant group of people. Ukrainian is mainly spoken in western and central Ukraine. In western Ukraine, Ukrainian is also the dominant language in cities (such as Lviv). In central Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both equally used in cities, with Russian being more common in Kiev, while Ukrainian is the dominant language in rural communities. In eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian is primarily used in cities, and Surzhyk is used in rural areas.

For a large part of the Soviet era, the number of Ukrainian speakers was declining from generation to generation, and by the mid-1980s, the usage of the Ukrainian language in public life had decreased significantly. Following independence, the government of Ukraine began following a policy of Ukrainisation, to increase the use of Ukrainian, while discouraging Russian, which has been banned or restricted in the media and films. This means that Russian-language programmes need a Ukrainian translation or subtitles, but this excludes Russian language media made during the Soviet era.

According to the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukrainian is the only state language of the republic. However, the republic's constitution specifically recognises Russian as the language of the majority of its population and guarantees its usage 'in all spheres of public life'. Similarly, the Crimean Tatar language (the language of 12 percent of population of Crimea) is guaranteed a special state protection as well as the 'languages of other ethnicities'. Russian speakers constitute an overwhelming majority of the Crimean population (77 percent), with Ukrainian speakers comprising just 10.1 percent, and Crimean Tatar speakers 11.4 percent. But in everyday life the majority of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in Crimea use Russian.

The history of Ukrainian literature dates back to the 11th century, following the Christianisation of the Kievan Rus’. The writings of the time were mainly liturgical and were written in Old Church Slavonic. Historical accounts of the time were referred to as chronicles, the most significant of which was the Primary Chronicle. Literary activity faced a sudden decline during the Mongol invasion of Rus'.

Ukrainian literature again began to develop in the 14th century, and was advanced significantly in the 16th century with the introduction of print and with the beginning of the Cossack era, under both Russian and Polish dominance. The Cossacks established an independent society and popularized a new kind of epic poems, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature. These advances were then set back in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when publishing in the Ukrainian language was outlawed and prohibited. Nonetheless, by the late 18th century modern literary Ukrainian finally emerged.

The 19th century initiated a vernacular period in Ukraine, lead by Ivan Kotliarevsky’s work Eneyida, the first publication written in modern Ukrainian. By the 1830s, Ukrainian romanticism began to develop, and the nation’s most renowned cultural figure, romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko emerged. Where Ivan Kotliarevsky is considered to be the father of literature in the Ukrainian vernacular; Shevchenko is the father of a national revival. Then, in 1863, use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. This severely curtained literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia. The ban was never officially lifted, but it became obsolete after the revolution and the Bolsheviks’ coming to power.

Ukrainian literature continued to flourish in the early Soviet years, when nearly all literary trends were approved. These policies faced a steep decline in the 1930s, when Stalin implemented his policy of socialist realism. The doctrine did not necessarily repress the Ukrainian language, but it required writers to follow a certain style in their works. Literary activities continued to be somewhat limited under the communist party, and it was not until Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 when writers were free the express themselves as they wished.

Ukraine greatly benefited from the Soviet emphasis on physical education. Such policies left Ukraine with hundreds of stadia, swimming pools, gymnasia, and many other athletic facilities. The most popular sport is football. The top professional league is the Vyscha Liha, also known as the Ukrainian Premier League. The two most successful teams in the Vyscha Liha are rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Although Shakhtar is the reigning champion of the Vyscha Liha, Dynamo Kyiv has been much more successful historically, winning two UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, a record 13 USSR Championships and a record 12 Ukrainian Championships; while Shakhtar only won four Ukrainian championships. Many Ukrainians also played for the Soviet national football team, most notably Igor Belanov and Oleg Blokhin, winners of the prestigious Golden Ball Award for the best football player of the year. This award was only presented to one Ukrainian after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Andriy Shevchenko, the current captain of the Ukrainian national football team. The national team made its debute in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions, Italy. Ukrainians also fared well in boxing, where the brothers Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko have held world heavyweight championships.

Ukraine made its Olympic debut at the 1994 Winter Olympics. So far, Ukraine has been much more successful in summer Olympics (96 medals in four appearances) than in the winter Olympics (five medals in four appearances). Ukraine is currently ranked 35th by number of gold medals won in the All-time Olympic Games medal count, with every country above them, except for Russia, having more appearances. The new step of Ukraine in the world sport is to host 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Ukrainian government bid Bukovel - the youngest Ukrainian ski resort to be the host in 2018.The winning bid will be announced in 2011 at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.

According to the Ukrainian Census of 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up 77.8% of the population. Other significant ethnic groups are Russians (17.3%), Belarusians (0.6%), Moldovans (0.5%), Crimean Tatars (0.5%), Bulgarians (0.4%), Hungarians (0.3%), Romanians (0.3%), Poles (0.3%), Jews (0.2%), Armenians (0.2%), Greeks (0.2%) and Tatars (0.2%). The industrial regions in the east and southeast are the most heavily populated, and about 67.2 percent of the population lives in urban areas.

Ukraine is considered to be in a demographic crisis due to its high death rate and a low birth rate. The current Ukrainian birth rate is 9.55 births/1,000 population, and the death rate is 15.93 deaths/1,000 population. A factor contributing to the relatively high death is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes such as alcohol poisoning and smoking. In 2007, the country's population was declining at the fourth fastest rate in the world.

To help mitigate these trends, the government continues to increase child support payments. Thus it provides one-time payments of 12,250 Hryvnias for the first child, 25,000 Hryvnias for the second and 50,000 Hryvnias for the third and fourth, along with monthly payments of 154 Hryvnias per child. The demographic trend is showing signs of improvement, as the birth rate has been steadily growing since 2001. Net population growth over the first nine months of 2007 was registered in five provinces of the country (out of 24), and population shrinkage was showing signs of stabilising nationwide. In 2007 the highest birth rates were in the Western Oblasts.

Significant migration took place in the first years of Ukrainian independence. More than one million people moved into Ukraine in 1991–2, mostly from the other former Soviet republics. In total, between 1991 and 2004, 2.2 million immigrated to Ukraine (among them, 2 million came from the other former Soviet Union states), and 2.5 million emigrated from Ukraine (among them, 1.9 million moved to other former Soviet Union republics). Currently, immigrants constitute an estimated 14.7 percent of the total population, or 6.9 million people; this is the fourth largest figure in the world.

The dominant religion in Ukraine is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is currently split between three Church bodies: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autonomous church body under the Patriarch of Moscow, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

A distant second by the number of the followers is the Eastern Rite Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which practices a similar liturgical and spiritual tradition as Eastern Orthodoxy, but is in communion with the Holy See (See of Rome) of the (Roman Catholic Church) and recognises the primacy of the Pope as head of the Church.

Additionally, there are 863 Roman Catholic (Latin or Western Rite) communities, and 474 clergy members serving some one million Roman Catholics in Ukraine. The group forms some 2.19 percent of the population and consists mainly of ethnic Poles and Hungarians, who live predominantly in the western regions of the country.

Protestant Christians also form around 2.19 percent of the population. Protestant numbers have grown greatly since Ukrainian independence. The Evangelical Baptist Union of Ukraine is the largest group, with more than 150,000 members and about 3000 clergy. The second largest Protestant church is the Ukrainian Church of Evangelical faith (Pentecostals) with 110000 members and over 1500 local churches and over 2000 clergy, but there also exist other Pentecostal groups and unions and together all Pentecostals are over 300,000, with over 3000 local churches. Also there are many Pentecostal high education schools such as the Lviv Theological Seminary and the Kiev Bible Institute. Other groups include Calvinists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Methodists and Seventh-day Adventists. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) is also present.

There are an estimated 500,000 Muslims in Ukraine, and about 300,000 of them are Crimean Tatars. There are 487 registered Muslim communities, 368 of them on the Crimean peninsula. In addition, some 50,000 Muslims live in Kiev; mostly foreign-born. The Jewish community is a tiny fraction of what it was before World War II. The cities with the largest populations of Jews in 1926 were Odessa, 154,000 or 36.5% of the total population; and Kiev, 140,500 or 27.3%. The 2001 census indicated that there are 103,600 Jews in Ukraine, although community leaders claimed that the population could be as large as 300,000. There are no statistics on what share of the Ukrainian Jews are observant, but Orthodox Judaism has the strongest presence in Ukraine. Smaller Reform and Conservative Jewish (Masorti) communities exist as well.

According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis. There is also a small number of accredited private secondary and higher education institutions.

Due to the Soviet Union's emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4 percent. Since 2005, an eleven-year school program has been replaced with a twelve-year one: primary education takes four years to complete (starting at age six), middle education (secondary) takes five years to complete; upper secondary then takes three years. In the 12th grade, students take Government Tests, which are also referred to as school-leaving exams. These tests are later used for university admissions.

The Ukrainian higher education system comprises higher educational establishments, scientific and methodological facilities under federal, municipal and self-governing bodies in charge of education. The organisation of higher education in Ukraine is built up in accordance with the structure of education of the world's higher developed countries, as is defined by UNESCO and the UN.

Most of the Ukrainian road system has not been upgraded since the Soviet era, and is now outdated. The Ukrainian government has pledged to build some 4,500 km (2,800 mi) of motorways by 2012. In total, Ukrainian paved roads stretch for 164,732 kilometres (102,360 mi). Rail transport in Ukraine plays the role of connecting all major urban areas, port facilities and industrial centers with neighbouring countries. The heaviest concentration of railroad track is located in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Although the amount of freight transported by rail fell by 7.4 percent in 1995 in comparison with 1994, Ukraine is still one of the world's highest rail users. The total amount of railroad track in Ukraine extends for 22,473 kilometres (13,964 mi), of which 9,250 kilometres (5,750 mi) is electrified.

Ukraine is one of Europe’s largest energy consumers; it consumes almost double the energy of Germany, per unit of GDP. A great share of energy supply in Ukraine comes from nuclear power, with the country receiving most of its nuclear fuel from Russia. The remaining oil and gas, is also imported from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine is heavily dependent on its nuclear energy. The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Ukraine. In 2006, the government planned to build 11 new reactors by the year 2030, in effect, almost doubling the current amount of nuclear power capacity. Ukraine's power sector is the twelfth-largest in the world in terms of installed capacity, with 54 gigawatts (GW). Renewable energy still plays a very modest role in electrical output, and in 2005 energy production was met by the following sources: nuclear (47 percent), thermal (45 percent), hydro and other (8 percent).

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 57 United Nations member states.

1 Provisionally referred to by the Council of Europe as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"; see Macedonia naming dispute.

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History of Ukraine

Coat of Arms of Ukraine

The territory of Ukraine was a key centre of East Slavic culture in the Middle Ages, before being divided between a variety of powers. However, the history of Ukraine dates back many thousands of years. The territory has been settled continuously since at least 5000 BC, and is also a candidate site of the origins of the Proto-Indo-European language family.

Human settlement in Ukraine has been documented into distant prehistory. The late Neolithic Trypillian culture flourished from about 4500 BC to 3000 BC. The Copper Age people of the Trypillian culture were resided in the western part, and the Sredny Stog further east, succeeded by the early Bronze Age Yamna ( "Kurgan") culture of the steppes, and by the Catacomb culture in the 3rd millennium BC (see also Ukrainian stone stela).

During the Iron Age, these were followed by the Dacians, Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, among other nomadic peoples. The Scythian Kingdom existed here from 750 BC to 250 BC. Along with ancient Greek colonies founded from the 6th century BC on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea, the colonies of Tyras, Olbia, Hermonassa, perpetuated by Roman and Byzantine cities until the 6th century AD.

In the 3rd century AD, the Goths arrived in the lands of Ukraine around 250 AD to 375 AD, which they called Oium, corresponding to the archaeological Chernyakhov culture. The Ostrogoths stayed in the area but came under the sway of the Huns from the 370s. North of the Ostrogothic kingdom was the Kiev culture, flourishing from the 2nd to 5th centuries, when it was overrun by the Huns. After they helped defeat the Huns at the battle of Nedao in 454, the Ostrogoths were allowed to settle in Pannonia.

With the power vacuum created with the end of Hunnic and Gothic rule, Slavic tribes, possibly emerging from the remnants of the Kiev culture, began to expand over much of what is now Ukraine during the 5th century, and beyond to the Balkans from the 6th century.

In the 7th century, the territory of modern Ukraine was the core of the state of the Bulgars (often referred to as Old Great Bulgaria) with its capital city of Phanagoria. At the end of the 7th century, most Bulgar tribes migrated in several directions and the remains of their state were absorbed by the Khazars, a semi-nomadic people from Central Asia.

The Khazars founded the Khazar kingdom in the southeastern part of today's Europe, near the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus. The kingdom included western Kazakhstan, and parts of eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, southern Russia, and Crimea.

As Hrushesky states the city of Kyiv was established during the time when area around the mid- and low-Dnipro was the part of the Khasar's state. He referred that information to the local legends as no written chronicles from that period has left. The main reasons for that might be tha fact that during the Christianization of the Kyivan Rus and later occupation of Ukraine all earlier religious and historical publications of that land were destroyed. In the 882, Kiev was conquered from the Khazars by the Varangian noble Oleg who started the long period of rule of the Rurikid princes. During this time, several Slavic tribes were native to Ukraine, including the Polans, the Drevlyans, the Severians, the Ulichs, the Tiverians, and the Dulebes. Situated on lucrative trade routes, Kiev among the Polanians quickly prospered as the center of the powerful Slavic state of Kievan Rus.

In the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was, geographically, the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia (the Latin name for Rus', especially for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine", meaning "border-land", first appears in recorded history on maps of the period. The meaning of this term seems to have been synonymous with the land of Rus' propria--the principalities of Kiev, Chernihiv and Pereyaslav. The term, "Greater Rus'" was used to apply to all the lands ruled by Kiev, including those that were not just Slavic, but also Finno-Ugric in the north-east portions of the state. Local regional subdivisions of Rus' appeared in the Slavic heartland, including, "Belarus'" (White Ruthenia), "Chorna Rus'" (Black Ruthenia) and "Cherven' Rus'" (Red Ruthenia) in north-western and western Ukraine.

Although Christianity had made inroads into territory of Ukraine before the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea (325) (particularly along the Black Sea coast) and, in Western Ukraine during the time of empire of Great Moravia, the formal governmental acceptance of Christianity in Rus' occurred at in 988. The major cause of the Christianization of Kievan Rus' was the Grand-Duke, Vladimir the Great (Volodymyr). His Christian interest was midwifed by his grandmother, Princess Olga. Later, an enduring part of the East-Slavic legal tradition was set down by the Kievan ruler, Yaroslav I, who promulgated the Russkaya Pravda (Truth of Rus') which endured through the Lithuanian period of Rus'.

Conflict among the various principalities of Rus', in spite of the efforts of Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh, led to decline, beginning in the 12th century. In Rus' propria, the Kiev region, the nascent Rus' principalities of Halych and Volynia extended their rule. In the north, the name of Moscow appeared in the historical record in the principality of Suzdal, which gave rise to the nation of Russia. In the north-west, the principality of Polotsk increasingly asserted the autonomy of Belarus'. Kiev was sacked by Vladimir principality (1169) in the power struggle between princes and later by Cumans and Mongol raiders in the 12th and 13th centuries, respectively. Subsequently, all principalities of present-day Ukraine acknowledged dependence upon the Mongols (1239-1240). In 1240 the Mongols sacked Kiev. The Mongol overlordship was very cruel, and people often fled to other countries.

A successor state to Kievan Rus' on part of the territory of today's Ukraine was the principality of Galicia-Volhynia.

Previously, Vladimir the Great had established the cities of Halych and Ladomir (later Volodimer) as regional capitals for the western Ukrainian heartland. This new, more exclusively a Ukrainian predecessor state was based upon the Dulebe, Tiverian and White Croat tribes. The state was ruled by the descendants of Yaroslav the Wise and Vladimir Monomakh. For a brief period, the country was ruled by a Hungarian nobleman. Battles with the neighboring states of Poland and Lithuania also occurred, as well as internecine warfare with the independent Ruthenian principality of Chernigov to the east. The nation reached its peak with the extension of rule to neighboring Wallachia/Bessarabia, all the way to the shores of the Black Sea.

During the 14th century, Poland and Lithuania fought wars against the Mongol invaders, and eventually most of Ukraine passed to the rule of Poland and Lithuania. More particularly, the lands of Volynia in the north and north-west passed to the rule of Lithuanian princes, while the south-west passed to the control of Poland (Galicia) and Hungary (Zakarpattya).

Most of Ukraine bordered parts of Lithuania, and some say that the name, "Ukraine" comes from the local word for "border," although the name "Ukraine" was also used centuries earlier. Lithuania took control of the state of Volynia in northern and north-western Ukraine, including the region around Kiev (Rus'), and the rulers of Lithuania then adopted the title of ruler of Rus'. Poland took control of the region of Galicia. Following the union between Poland and Lithuania, Poles, Germans, Armenians and Jews migrated to the region.

After the Union of Lublin in 1569 and the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Ukraine fell under Polish administration, becoming part of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom. The period immediately following the creation of the Commonwealth saw a huge revitalisation in colonisation efforts. Many new cities and villages were founded. New schools spread the ideas of the Renaissance; Polish peasants who arrived in great numbers were quickly ruthenised; during this time, most of Ukrainian nobles became polonised and converted to Catholicism, and while most Ruthenian-speaking peasants remained within the Eastern Orthodox Church, social tension rose. Ruthenian peasants (Ukrainians and some from other nations) who fled efforts to force them into serfdom came to be known as Cossacks and earned a reputation for their fierce martial spirit. Some Cossacks were hired by the Commonwealth (became 'register Cossacks') as soldiers to protect the south-eastern borders of Poland from Tatars or took part in campaigns abroad (like Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny in the battle of Khotyn 1621). Cossack units were also active in wars between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Muscovy.

The 1648 Ukrainian Cossack (Kozak) rebellion and war of independence (Khmelnytsky Uprising), which started an era known as the Ruin (in Polish history as The Deluge), undermined the foundations and stability of the Commonwealth. The nascent Cossack state, the Zaporozhian Host, usually viewed as precursor of Ukraine, found itself in a three-sided military and diplomatic rivalry with the Ottoman Turks, who controlled the Tatars to the south, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, and the rising Russia to the East. The reconstituted Ukrainian state, having recently fought a bitter war with Poland, sought a treaty of protection with Russia in 1654. This agreement was known as the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Commonwealth authorities then sought compromise with the Ukrainian Cossack state by signing the Treaty of Hadiach in 1658, but — after thirteen years of incessant warfare — the agreement was later superseded by 1667 Polish-Russian Treaty of Andrusovo, which divided Ukrainian territory between the Commonwealth and Russia. Under Russia, the Cossacks initially retained official autonomy in the Hetmanate. For a time, they also maintained a semi-independent republic in Zaporozhia, and a colony on the Russian frontier in Sloboda Ukraine.

Tsarist rule over central Ukraine gradually replaced 'protection' over the subsequent decades. After the Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the extreme west of Ukraine fell under the control of the Austrians, with the rest as part of the Russian Empire. As a result of Russo-Turkish Wars the Ottoman Empire's control receded from south-central Ukraine, while the rule of Hungary over the Transcarpathian region continued. Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were inspired by the nationalistic spirit stirring other European peoples existing under other imperial governments and became determined to revive the Ukrainian linguistic and cultural traditions and re-establish a Ukrainian nation-state. Russia however, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate Ukrainian language and culture, even banning its use and study. However, many Ukrainians accepted their fate in the Russian Empire and some were to achieve a great success there. Many Russian writers, composers, painters and architects of the 19th century were of Ukrainian descent. Probably the most notable was Nikolai Gogol, one of the greatest writers in the history of Russian literature.

The fate of the Ukrainians was far different under the Austrian Empire where they found themselves in the pawn position of the Russian-Austrian power struggle for the Central and Southern Europe. Unlike in Russia, most of the elite that ruled Galicia were of Austrian or Polish descent, with the Ruthenians being almost exclusively kept in peasantry. During the 19th century, Russophilia was a common occurrence among the Slavic population, but the intervention of Austrian authorities, caused the movement to be replaced by Ukrainophilia, which would then cross-over into the Russian Empire. With the start of World War I, all those supporting Russia were rounded up and massacred at Talerhof.

When World War I and the October Revolution in Russia shattered the Austrian and Russian empires, Ukrainians were caught in the middle. Between 1917 and 1918, several separate Ukrainian republics manifested independence, the Tsentral'na Rada, the Hetmanate, the Directorate, the Ukrainian People's Republic, the West Ukrainian People's Republic, and a Bolshevik government.

As the territory of Ukraine fell into warfare and anarchy, it was also fought over by German and Austrian forces, the Red Army of Bolshevik Russia, the White Forces of General Denikin, the Polish Army, anarchists led by Nestor Makhno, and neo-haydamak bands such as the Green Army of Matviy Hryhoriyiv.

With the defeat in the Polish-Ukrainian War and then the failure of the Piłsudski's and Petliura's Kiev Operation, by the end of the Polish-Soviet War after the Peace of Riga in March 1921, the western part of Galicia had been incorporated into Poland, and the larger, central and eastern part became part of the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Ukrainian national idea lived on during the inter-war years and was even spread to a large territory with traditionally mixed population in the east and south that became part of the Ukrainian Soviet republic. The Ukrainian culture even enjoyed a revival due to Bolshevik concessions in the early Soviet years (until early-1930s) known as the policy of Korenization ("indigenisation"). In these years an impressive Ukrainization program was implemented throughout the republic. The rapidly developed Ukrainian language based education system dramatically raised the literacy of the Ukrainophone rural population. Simultaneously, the newly-literate ethnic Ukrainians migrated to the cities, which became rapidly largely Ukrainianised—in both population and in education. Similarly expansive was an increase in Ukrainian language publishing and overall eruption of Ukrainian cultural life.

At the same time, the usage of Ukrainian was continuously encouraged in the workplace and in the government affairs as the recruitment of indigenous cadre was implemented as part of the korenisation policies. While initially, the party and government apparatus was mostly Russian-speaking, by the end of 1920s the ethnic Ukrainians composed over one half of the membership in the Ukrainian communist party, the number strengthened by accession of Borotbists, a formerly indigenously Ukrainian "independentist" and non-Bolshevik communist party.

Despite the ongoing Soviet-wide antireligious campaign, the Ukrainian national Orthodox churches was created called the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) (See History of Christianity in Ukraine). The Bolshevik government initially saw the national churches as a tool in their goal to suppress the Russian Orthodox Church always viewed with the great suspicion by the regime for its being the cornerstone of pre-revolutionary Russian Empire and the initially strong opposition it took towards the regime change. Therefore, the government tolerated the new Ukrainian national church for some time and the UAOC gained a wide following among the Ukrainian peasantry.

The change in the Soviet economic policies towards the fast-pace industrialisation was marked by the 1928 introduction of Stalin's first piatiletka (a five-year plan). The industrialisation bought about a dramatic economic and social transformation in traditionally agricultural Ukraine. In the first piatiletkas the industrial output of Ukraine quadrupled as the republic underwent a record industrial development. The massive influx of the rural population to the industrial centres increased the urban population from 19 to 34 percent.

However, the industrialisation had a heavy cost for the peasantry, demographically a backbone of the Ukrainian nation. To satisfy the state's need for increased food supplies and finance industrialisation, Stalin instituted a program of collectivisation of agriculture, which profoundly affected Ukraine, often referred to as the "breadbasket of the USSR". In the late 1920s and early '30s the state combined the peasants' lands and animals into collective farms. Starting in 1929 a policy of enforcement was applied, using regular troops and secret police to confiscate lands and material where necessary.

Many resisted, and a desperate struggle by the peasantry against the authorities ensued. Some slaughtered their livestock rather than turn it over to the collectives. Wealthier peasants were labeled "kulaks", enemies of the state. Tens of thousands were executed and about 100,000 families were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Forced collectivisation had a devastating effect on agricultural productivity. Despite this, in 1932 the Soviet government increased Ukraine's production quotas by 44%, ensuring that they could not be met. Soviet law required that the members of a collective farm would receive no grain until government quotas were satisfied. The authorities in many instances exacted such high levels of procurement from collective farms that starvation became widespread. Millions starved to death in a famine, known as the Holodomor (available data is insufficient for precise calculations therefore estimates vary). The Soviet Union suppressed information about the famine, and as late as the 1980s admitted only that there was some hardship because of kulak sabotage and bad weather. Today, its existence is accepted. Non-Soviets maintain that the famine was an avoidable, deliberate act of genocide.

The times of industrialisation and collectivisation also brought about a wide campaign against "nationalist deviation" which in Ukraine translated into an assault on the national political and cultural elite. The first wave of purges between 1929 and 1934 targeted the revolutionary generation of the party that in Ukraine included many supporters of Ukrainization. The next 1936-1938 wave of political purges (see Great Purge) eliminated much of the new political generation that replaced those that perished in the first wave and halved the membership of the Ukrainian communist party. The purged Ukrainian political leadership was largely replaced by the cadre send from Russia that was also largely "rotated" by Stalin's purges. As the policies of Ukrainisation were halted (1931) and replaced by massive Russification approximately four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite, intellectuals, writers, artists and clergy, had been "eliminated", executed or imprisoned, in the following decade. Mass arrests of the hierarchy and clergy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church culminated in the liquidation of the church in 1930.

Following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland, including Galicia with its Ukrainian population. Next, after France surrendered to Germany, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina, and additionally the Soviet-occupied Hertsa region, but ceded the western part of the Moldavian ASSR to the newly-created Moldavian SSR. All these territorial gains were internationally recognized by the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947.

When Nazi Germany with its allies invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, many Ukrainians, particularly in the west where they had experienced only two years of the harsh Soviets rule, initially regarded the Nazis as "liberators", and some hoped to establish an autonomous Ukrainian state. German policies initially gave some encouragement to such hopes through the vague promises of sovereign 'Greater Ukraine' as the Germans were trying to take advantage of anti-Soviet, anti-Polish and anti-Jewish sentiments among some Ukrainians. A pro-Nazi Ukrainian auxiliary police was formed as well as Ukrainian SS division, 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galicia (1st Ukrainian). However, after the initial period of a limited tolerance, the German policies soon abruptly changed and the Ukrainian national movement was brutally crushed.

Most Ukrainians, however, utterly resisted the Nazi onslaught from its start and a partisan movement immediately spread over the occupied territory. Also some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground formed a Ukrainian Insurgent Army that fought both Soviet and Nazi forces and is responsible for mass slaughter of around 100,000 Polish civilians living in current Western Ukraine (see: Massacres of Poles in Volhynia). After 1944, those Poles who survived the massacres, were expelled. In some western regions of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army survived underground and continued the resistance against the Soviet authorities well into the 1950s, though many Ukrainian civilians were murdered in this conflict by both sides.

The Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population's possible dissatisfaction with Soviet political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, and deported many Ukrainians to forced labour in Germany. In their active resistance to Nazi Germany, the Ukrainians comprised a significant share of the Red Army and its leadership as well as the underground and resistance movements.

Total civilian losses during the War and German occupation in Ukraine are estimated at seven million, including over a million Jews shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen.

Many of civilians fell victim to atrocities, forced labor, and even massacres of whole villages in reprisal for attacks against Nazi forces. Of the estimated eleven million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, about a quarter (2.7 million) were ethnic Ukrainians. Moreover Ukraine saw some of the biggest battles of the war starting with the encirclement of Kiev (later acclaimed as a Hero City) where more than 660,000 Soviet troops were taken captive, to the fierce defence of Odessa, and on to the victorious storming across the Dnieper river.

Over the next decades the Ukrainian republic not only surpassed pre-war levels of industry and production but also was the spearhead of Soviet power. Ukraine became the centre of Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. The republic was also turned into a Soviet military outpost in the cold war, a territory crowded by military bases packed with the most up-to-date weapons systems.

Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev a Soviet leader from 1964 to 1982, as well as many prominent Soviet sportsmen, scientists and artists. In 1954, the Russian-populated oblast of Crimea was transferred from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

However, the relatively underdeveloped industrial branches such as coal- and iron ore mining, metallurgy, chemical and energy industry dominated the republic’s economy. Once a Cossack steppe, the southern oblasts of Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia were turned into a highly industrialized area with rapidly increasing impact on environment and public health. A pursuit to energy production sufficient for growing industry led to the gigantic nature-remastering: turning the Dnieper River into a regulated system of large reservoirs.

The products of the rapidly developed high-tech industry in Ukraine were largely directed for military consumption, similarly to the much of the Soviet economy, and the supply and quality of consumer goods remained low compared even to the neighboring countries of the Eastern bloc. A state-regulated system of production and consumption lead to gradual decreasing of life level and growing “shadowisation” of retail infrastructure as well as of corruption.

The town of Pripyat, Ukraine was the site of the Chernobyl disaster, which occurred in April 26, 1986 when a nuclear plant exploded. The fallout contaminated large areas of northern Ukraine and even parts of Belarus. This spurred on a local independence movement called the Rukh that helped expedite the break-up of the Soviet Union during the late 1980s.

On January 21, 1990, over 300,000 Ukrainians organized a human chain for Ukrainian independence in memory of the 1919 unification of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic. Citizens came out to the streets and highways, forming live chains by holding hands in support of war Ukraine declared itself an independent state on August 24, 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and was a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. On December 1, 1991 Ukrainian voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum formalizing independence from the Soviet Union. The Union formally ceased to exist in December 25, 1991, and with this Ukraine's independence was officially recognized by the international community.

The history of Ukraine between 1991 and 2004 was marked by the presidencies of Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma. This was a time of transition for Ukraine. While it had attained nominal independence from Russia, its presidents maintained close ties with their neighbours.

The country adopted its constitution on June 28, 1996.

The Cassette Scandal of 2000 was one of the turning points in post-independence history of the country.

In 2004, Leonid Kuchma announced that he would not run for re-election. Two major candidates emerged in the 2004 presidential election. Viktor Yanukovych, the incumbent Prime Minister, supported by both Kuchma and by the Russian Federation, wanted closer ties with Russia. The main opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, called for Ukraine to turn its attention westward and eventually join the EU. In the runoff election, Yanukovych officially won by a narrow margin, but Yushchenko and his supporters cried foul, alleging that vote rigging and intimidation cost him many votes, especially in eastern Ukraine. A political crisis erupted after the opposition started massive street protests in Kiev and other cities (Orange Revolution), and the Supreme Court of Ukraine ordered the election results null and void. A second runoff found Viktor Yushchenko the winner. 5 days later Viktor Yanukovych resigned from office and his cabinet was dismissed on January 5, 2005.

In March 2006, the Verkhovna Rada elections took place and three months later the official government was formed by the "Anti-Crisis Coalition" among the Party of Regions, Communist, and Socialist parties. The latter party switched from the "Orange Coalition" with Our Ukraine, and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. The new coalition nominated Viktor Yanukovych for the post of Prime Minister. Yanukovych once again became Prime Minister, while the leader of the Socialist Party, Oleksander Moroz, managed to secure the position of chairman of parliament, which is believed by many to have been the reason for his leaving the Orange Coalition, where he had not been considered for this position.

On April 2, 2007, President Yushchenko dissolved the Verkhovna Rada because members of his party were defecting to the opposition. His opponents called the move unconstitutional. When they took the matter to the Constitutional Court, Yushchenko dismissed 3 of the court's 18 judges, accusing them of corruption.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine sometimes appear strained. In 2005, a highly-publicized dispute over natural gas prices took place, involving Russian state-owned gas supplier Gazprom, and indirectly involving many European countries which depend on natural gas supplied by Russia through the Ukrainian pipeline. A compromise was reached in January 2006.

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Military of Ukraine

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The Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Збройні сили України (ЗСУ) Zbroyni Syly Ukrayiny, (ZSU)) were formed from portions of the military of the collapsing Soviet Union, in the early 1990s.

Ukraine's stated national policy is Euro-Atlantic integration, with both NATO and the European Union. Ukraine has a "Distinctive Partnership" with NATO and has been an active participant in Partnership for Peace exercises and in peacekeeping in the Balkans. This close relationship with NATO has been most apparent in Ukrainian cooperation and combined peacekeeping operation with its neighbor Poland, in Kosovo. Ukrainian serviceman also serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour. However, the continuing relationship with Russia complicates these linkages.

The current Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is General of Army of Ukraine Sergiy Kirichenko.

As the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990 and 1991, 780,000 Soviet military personnel remained located in Ukraine’s three military districts. This mass was not an army but a force grouping, without a national Ministry of Defence, a General Staff or central organs of command and control. 'This grouping, its inventory of equipment and its officer corps were designed for one purpose: to wage combined arms, coalition, offensive (and nuclear) warfare against NATO on an external front.' At that time, the armed forces of Ukraine included land force formations, one rocket army, four Air Force armies, a separate air defense army, and the Black Sea Fleet. Altogether, when established, the Armed Forces of Ukraine included more than 350 ships, 1500 combat aircraft, and 1272 strategic nuclear war-heads of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On August 24, 1991, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, enacted a resolution to take jurisdiction over all formations of the armed forces of the former Soviet Union stationed on Ukrainian soil, and to establish one of the key agencies, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.

Inherent in the process of creating a domestic military were political decisions by the Ukrainian leadership regarding the country's non-nuclear and international status. Included in this was the definition, agreement and ratification of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) which not only established the maximum level of armament for each republic of the former USSR, but also a special ceiling for the so-called CFE "Flank Region". Included in the region were Ukraine's Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia Oblasts, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Also key for the creation of a Ukrainian military was the 1992 Tashkent Treaty, which laid out aspirations for a CIS military that would prove impossible to develop because the former republics of the USSR all wished to go their own way, ripping the intricate Soviet military machine into pieces.

The military and security forces, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a number of independent "militarized institutions" (paramilitary forces) are under the command of the President of Ukraine, and subject to oversight by a permanent parliamentary commission. The Ukrainian military tactics and organization are heavily dependent on Cold War tactics, and former Soviet Union organization. Ukraine has however been pursuing a policy of independence from Russian dominance, and have taken steps towards closer ties with the West. However, Ukraine retains tight military relations with Russia, mostly inherited from the common Soviet history. Common use of naval bases in Crimean and joint air defense efforts are the most intense branches of such cooperation. This cooperation is a permanent irritant in bilateral relations. But the country is unable to drop such ties quickly, being economically dependent on Moscow.

Plagued at times by hostile relations with Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been steadfastly trying to develop its own independent military industry. Notable results of this effort are the Ukrainian-built T-84 main battle tank, currently in service, and the aircraft manufacturer Antonov. Ukraine received about 30% of the Soviet military industry, which included between 50 and 60 percent of all Ukrainian enterprises, which employed 40% of its working population. Ukraine was, and still remains, a leader in missile-related technology. Especially navigation electronics for combat vessels and submarines, guidance systems, and radar for military jets. Tough competition in the world's weapons market obliged Ukraine to consider exporting arms to politically unstable or even aggressive regimes. Ukraine build its own connections in arms exporting. The first contracts on weapons deliveries to Iran, signed in the middle of 1992, and caused negative reaction in the West (particularly in the US).

On November 26, 1997 Ukraine and Poland signed an Agreement on the formation of a Joint Peacekeeping Battalion, which became fully operational in 1999 in the Kosovo Conflict.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited two divisions of the Strategic Rocket Forces' 43rd Rocket Army (HQ Vinnitsa), the 19th Rocket Division (Khemilnitskiy) (90? UR-100N/SS-19/RS-18) and the 46th Rocket Division at Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv Oblast, equipped with 40 SS-19, and 46 silo-mounted RT-23 Molodets/SS-24s. Ukraine voluntarily gave up these and its other nuclear weapons during the early 1990s. This was the first time in human history that a country voluntarily gave up the use of strategic nuclear weapons, though the Republic of South Africa was destroying its small tactical nuclear weapons program at about the same time.

Ukraine has plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology. Ukraine also has two uranium mining and processing factories, a heavy water plant, a technology for making electronic to determine the isotopic composition of fissionable materials. Ukraine has deposits of uranium that are among the world’s richest. In May 1992, Ukraine signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in which the country agreed to give up all nuclear weapons, and to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state. Ukraine ratified the treaty in 1994, and as of January 1, 1996, no military nuclear equipment or materials remained on Ukrainian territory.

On 13 May 1994, the United States and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Transfer of Missile Equipment and Technology. This agreement committed Ukraine to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by controlling exports of missile-related equipment and technology according to the MTCR Guidelines.

Ukraine has been playing an increasingly larger role in peacekeeping operations. Since 1992, over 30,000 soldiers took part in missions in former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia,Serbia/Kosovo), Middle East (Southern Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq), African Continent (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia).

Since 1997, Ukraine has been closely working with NATO, and especially Poland. A Ukrainian unit was deployed in Iraq, as part of the multinational force in Iraq under Polish command. Ukrainian troops are also deployed as part of the Ukrainian-Polish Battalion (UKRPOLBAT) in Kosovo. The total Ukrainian military deployment around the world as of May 28, 2008 is 570 servicemen participating in 11 peacekeeping missions in 9 countries.

The first battle of a regular formation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces happened on April 6, 2004 in Kut, Iraq, when the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent was attacked by militants of the Mahdi Army. The Ukrainians took fire, and over several hours held the objectives they had been assigned to secure.

Although not the parts of Armed Forces, these militarized institutions are supposed to fall under Armed Forces' command during wartime.

These are the professional military holidays of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

February 23 - The Defender Day July 8 - The Air Defence Day August 1 - The Navy Day August 2 - The Airmobile Forces Day August 8 - The Signal troops Day September 7 - The Day of Military Intelligence September 9 - The Day of Armour September 14 - The mobilization serviceman Day October 29 - The Day of finance officers November 3 - The Rocket Forces and Artillery Day November 3 - The Day of Engineers December 6 - The Armed Forces Day December 12 - The Day of Ground Forces December 23 - The Day of all level operational control structures servicemen.

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Source : Wikipedia