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The Maidan Uprising, Separatism and Foreign Intervention

Ukraine’s complex transition


Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Igor Lyubashenko

The current crisis in Ukraine has revealed a striking lack of background knowledge about Ukraine’s history and politics among West European politicians, journalists, intellectuals and even many academics. In this book, experts from Poland, Ukraine, the US, Russia and Western Europe fill the gap between an omnipresent and easily available narrative about Russia and a scarce, scattered knowledge about Ukraine. They show what history and political science can offer for a better understanding of the crisis and provide insights, which are based on reliable Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Turkish sources and confidential interviews with key actors and advisors. Rather than offering easy answers, the authors present facts and knowledge, which enables the reader to make up his own informed opinion.
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Independent Ukraine


Ukraine within the Soviet Union

The Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (henceforth, SSR) was one of the founders of the Soviet Union in 1922. Ukrainian historian Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky, who was at the time working in the US, considered the Ukrainian SSR to be a “compromise between Ukrainian nationalism and Russian centralism (…) Russia retained political control over Ukraine and, by virtue of that, the position of the paramount power in Eastern Europe. Ukraine preserved, from the shipwreck of her greater hopes, the status of a nation (denied to her by the tsarist regime) and a token recognition of her statehood in the form of the Ukrainian SSR”.1 After the national renaissance in the twenties, the Great Famine in the thirties, the Stalinist terror and the atrocities of World War II, the post-war “normalcy” promoted by Stalin’s successors meant for Ukraine “an impressive industrial development, urbanisation and the development of a fully modern society – but also tight political control from Moscow and gradual marginalisation of Ukrainian culture.”2

It is difficult to assess the status of the post-war Ukraine within the Soviet Union. Yaroslav Bilinsky called it “the Second Soviet Republic”.3 According to John A. Armstrong, the Ukrainians were Russians’ “younger brothers” – they were close to the dominant ethnic group in many cultural aspects, but “rural, low in education and access to skilled occupation and mass media, and low in geographical mobility”.4 A Polish expert from the Centre for Eastern Studies5 Tadeusz A. Olsza...

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