Ukraine's position in Europe

Ukrainian flag

Ukraine (incorrectly often called the Ukraine[1]) is a country in the crossroads between central Europe and eastern Europe with the capital in Kiev. Ukraine used to be part of the USSR but got independence when the Soviet Union broke up. In 2012, Ukraine hosted with Poland the EURO 2012. It is a country of strategic importance to the EU[2] and it hopes to join the European Union by 2020.

Kievan Rus'

Ukraine was a medieval polity in Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240. It was conquered and divided by its neighbouring countries.


Makhnovia, Makhnovshchina, or the Free Territory was an Anarchist country (named after Nestor Makhno) from 1918 until 1921... well, sort of Anarchist. It had prisons and gulags of its own and used forced labour, and also had conscription (but called it "compulsory mobilisation"), but we don't need to talk about that. The country arose from the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

The Bolsheviks had taken over vast swaths of land in Spring 1918, including Ukraine, but were pushed back by the Imperialist White Army seeking to restore the Tsar's throne and the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans, and the German Empire, who had initially supported and funded the Bolsheviks in order to weaken the Russian Empire). After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks had been considering making peace with the Central Powers but the demands and territorial concessions were considered too great. This was also bad stability-wise, as the Bolsheviks had promised "Peace, land, and bread." Leon Trotsky, the Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Bolsheviks, offered the solution of "No war, no peace," saying that they wouldn't sign the peace treaty but wouldn't fight the Central Powers either. This just resulted in Germany and Austria-Hungary capturing even more land, and the Bolsheviks having to sign another treaty (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) which demanded even greater concessions of land.

The Central Powers installed the Directorate of Ukraine there, which undone the Bolsheviks reforms by re-privatising the land and imperialising the place by forcing the peasants to give their grain to Germany and Austria-Hungary (who were running low on food due to embargo and naval blockade by the Third Entente). In addition, thousands of peasants were killed. This exaggerated the unrest, as Bolshevik loyalists, anarchists, socialists, LeftComs, White Army tsarists who didn't even recognise the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and Ukrainian nationalists who wanted complete sovereignty from all other countries began to revolt. The Directorate was overthrown, and through outmaneuvering other armies and militias, Makhno came out on top and established a temporary peace with the Reds.

Then, in 1919, the Whites attacked from the South. Makhno called to the Bolsheviks, who intervened and pushed the White Army back. The Free Territory began to stabilise and foreign relations with the USSR began to improve until the Free Territory began relentlessly criticising the government in Moscow and Marxism-Leninism, as well as attacking Red Army supply lines and stealing arms and munitions (and then turned around and yelled at the Bolsheviks when they stopped sending them supplies) and electing and appointing people who would incite anti-Semitic pogroms like the Kiev Pogrom of 1919 which killed between 30,000 and 70,000 Jews.

Two Cheka agents tried to assassinate Makhno but were captured, forced to confess, and executed. In 1920, when Ukraine was weakened during the typhoid pandemic, Leon Trotsky, who was born in Ukraine himself, came along and said "Free territory? Don't mind if I do!" and then took over Ukraine.

As for Makhno himself, he fled to Poland but was caught and sent to a concentration camp (yes, Poland had those before the Nazis even invaded) in April 1922, eight months after the Free Territory was disestablished. He requested to move to Czechoslovakia or Germany but that was denied. After the Soviets fabricated evidence to show that Makhno was planning an Anarchist revolution in Galicia, he was put on a trial and almost extradited to the USSR; Makhno was later acquited of all trials and released to Poznań before moving to the Free City of Danzig, being reported by Soviet authorities to the Prussian police and arrested again, and finally escaping a prison with the help of other Anarchists and fleeing to Paris in 1925. Makhno died of tuberculosis in 1934.


Makhno took land and businesses from the pomeshchiki (landed gents and aristocrats) and Kulaki ("peasants" who owned over 8 km of land and often times could even hire other workers for their labour power) and put them in the hands of the people via peasants' unions and communes. Apparently it only becomes a "problem" and "genocide" when Russians do it.

One may ask why they took the land from the Kulaks, which were peasants in their own rights, but there is a simple answer to this. European peasants from the 13th to 20th Centuries were petty bourgeoisie and not proletarians (as are/were most peasants). They held bourgeois ideals and just wanted to gain capital so they could exploit their fellow workers. Like serfs, peasants had, to an extent, owned the land they were working on, but just paid rent or debt via commodities and services or parts of commodities and services, keeping a share for themselves. The peasant had an assured existence; the proletarian did not. While peasants such as the Kulaks were still being exploited by larger lords, tied to hereditary debt that they couldn't pay off within their lifetime (life expectancy in feudal Russia was 35), these peasants didn't want to abolish this system but rather become the landlords themselves.

These peasants' unions were organised via volosts (workers councils, communes, and Soviets), much like in the RSFSR and Soviet Union. Peasants and workers would elect representatives who then went to a Soviet and appointed delegates which were sent to make economic decisions in the wider volost. The representatives could be elected by pretending to appeal to the people's interests, but this went against their self-interest as they would lose the support of the peasants and workers and consequentially be unelected (an idea expressed by Enlightenment thinkers during the French and American Revolutions), whereas delegates could be removed at any time.

Later, the Nabat or Nabat Confederation of Anarchist Organisations, a congress with 400 members was formed; and the volosts subserviated themselves to that larger representative body (similar to how the Soviet Union held congresses within the Communist Party to review its policy, whose representatives were delegates appointed by people who were elected by other low-level representatives who were elected by Soviets).

In regions where these unions existed and held power, it was a planned economy (though not centrally-planned), whereas other regions in Makhnovia still used markets.

There were multiple currencies in-use, including the Ukrainian hryvnia, Soviet ruble, as well as various local currencies.


The armed forces of Makhnovia was the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, also known as the Makhnovtsi or Black Army (no relation to the "Black Baron" Roman von Ungarn-Sternberg). At its peak in December 1919, it had over 100,000 troops (infantry and cavalry)[3]. Unlike traditional militaries, it had no rigid command chain or structure. Rather, officers weren't appointed but democratically-elected.

Ukrainian SSR, a republic within the USSR

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukrainian SSR), was commonly called Ukraine or Soviet Ukraine. It was an autonomous socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union from its inception in 1922 to its breakup in 1991. Ukrainian SSR was the place where the disastrous Chernobyl disaster happened. The territory of the Ukrainian SSR increased during the Invasion of Poland. During the Nazi occupation, the Holocaust was especially deadly in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.


When the Bolsheviks initially took over, Ukraine was still a market economy due to Lenin's NEP. However, in 1923 the Scissors Crisis occurred. Essentially, due to the onset of the civil war and the famine of 1921-22, the price of industrial prices soared to 276% of their 1913 levels compared to agricultural prices which, though initially greater than the industrial prices, increased by only 89%. On a price/time graph, the lines would intersect, and so Trotsky commented on its similarity to scissors. As a result, the working classes within the Soviet Union lost much of their income and people in Ukraine (the agricultural heartland of Europe) began turning to subsistence farming, which led the Soviet leadership to fear that another famine might occur.

These concerns were exacerbated by the onset of the problems of market economies whether capitalist or socialist. For example, due to the economy being decentralised, worker cooperatives began competing against each other, causing parallel development wasting twice as many resources to create the same product.

The unrest also increased as strikes began to occur in Russian industrial centres. Iosif Stalin, Lenin's successor, combated the crisis by centralising the economy. He cut the amount of staff, rationalised production, instituting price and wage controls, and reducing the influence of NEPmen.

Stalin continued to centralise the economy including in Ukraine. Thus it went from a market economy to a planned economy. He also ended the New Economic Policy in 1928 and began collectivising the agriculture and arable land in Ukraine as well as many other sectors of the economy (though private property was never fully abolished). This was followed by a famine, of course.

After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev took power. With the assistance of Georgy Malenkov, he launched a coup, after which he arrested and executed Marxist-Leninists within the Communist Party like Lavrenti Beria (the Deputy Premier who would have likely succeeded Stalin had the coup not occurred). Khrushchev then begun to culturally and economically liberalise the USSR. Khrushchev's reforms, which began in 1957, de-centralised industrial planning and management, so while it was still a planned economy it was not a centrally-planned economy like it was under the Stalin years. Khrushchev increased productivity quotas which were lower under Stalin, and increased the prices of foods and services (this later caused the Novocherkassk massacre in the Russian SFSR, where Marxist-Leninists and "Stalinists" called Khrushchev a "false Leninist;" Khrushchev ordered the KGB to open fire killing 26 people[4]). He also had some silly ideas like encouraging people to plant corn in Siberia.

These reforms, affecting the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc as a whole, along with the reforms brought by eyebrow man, which prioritised heavy industry and the arms industry over consumer goods, later contributed to the Era of Stagnation and eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The Great Hunger, Famine under Stalin

In 1932-1933, in the USSR under Stalin, a devastating and unnecessary famine occurred, affecting not just Ukraine (where the famine began in) but also Armenia, Russia, and Kazakhstan. In the previous years, starting in 1928, Stalin began collectivising farms and exporting grain to countries like Britain and France in exchange for capital, which he then used to build factories to industrialise the USSR and prepare for an inevitable invasion (either from Europe or Japan), however the Kulaks made no major effort to collectivise on their own and the state had to step in during the early 1930s. Ukkkrainian nationalists view this famine as a genocide, which was unanimously supported by the United States Senate (which is totally a good source which is not guilty of any genocides and is in the position to criticise Russia).

The main cause of the famine was a bad series of droughts, but it also didn't help that the Kulaks deliberately burnt their own crops, slaughtered their own cattle, and assassinated government leaders who realised what was happening. Low level party officials who were probably being bribed by the Kulaks didn't report the actual amount of grain being produced. Rather, the actual amount of grain was only 40% of what was reported to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and as a result they had no idea that the famine was even happening[5].

Stalin wouldn't let people privately sell grain as he believed that they would charge grain at absurd prices, getting as much as possible from the people who needed it. Iosif Stalin wanted people to buy things at fixed prices, which got in the way of profits and made the Kulaks angry.

The general scholarly consensus is that 3 million people died, but estimates can go as high as 7-11 million. These high estimates are suspect, as they generally compare birthrates before the famine to the actual population growth after and count the deficit as victims, which is problematic as:

  1. Regardless of whether it was Stalin's fault or not, birthrates would typically decrease during the event of embargo, sanctions, war, or famine.
  2. The population could decrease such as how it did during World War II, yet, attributing the 20 million deaths inflicted by the Nazis to Stalin would be silly.
  3. Using birthrates as a measure would be counting people who were never born.

There also is a lot of Nazi apologia (which would make sense considering many Ukrainians alive today are the descendants of Nazi collaborators, who, much like for the Baltic people, were only left alive so they could enlist in the Wehrmacht and fight against the Russians or participate in the extermination of their own people). As a result, many have a few "unsavory" views. An example includes:

  • American journalist Eric Margolis, who compared the famine to the Holocaust, an actual genocide that killed somewhere between 11-18 million, and claimed that there was widespread cannibalism during the Holodomor[6], also praised White House Communications Director, noted anti-Semite, and possible Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan's book, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War[7], claiming that:
    • "The German, Habsburg, and Ottoman Empires were torn apart by the lupine victors" (as if that was a bad thing and as if Empires have a right to exist)
    • That the dissolution of these Empires created "today’s unstable Balkans and Mideast" (even though the Balkans had already been destabilised, and the whole cause of World War I was nationalism, including Bosnian nationalism, as a Bosnian Serb killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had been increased by Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia in 1908)
    • That "Churchill made [...] [a] fatal error in World War II of backing Poland’s hold on Danzig even though Britain could do nothing to defend Poland, Yugoslavia, or Czechoslovakia from Hitler’s attempts to reunite million of Germans stranded in these new nations" (even though Churchill wasn't even Prime Minister at the time, but rather Chamberlain was, and that Britain could have easily prevented the annexation of Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, since the Soviet Union offered to intervene in Germany with the assistance of France and Britain numerous times throughout the 1930s, but Britain preferred the policy of appeasement... hell, Britain was literally the one who signed away Czechoslovakia's rights during the Munich Conference!)
    • That "the Western democracies should have let Hitler expand his Reich eastward until it inevitably went to war with the even more dangerous Soviet Union. Once these despotisms had exhausted themselves, the Western democracies would have been left dominating Europe" (I don't think I would have to elaborate why this is wrong and why the Holocaust would have been much more deadlier, but that's exactly what they tried to do. They let him take Austria, take the Sudetenland, take Austria, take Poland, and take Danzig. They only intervened when their colonies came under threat, and even then most members of the French parliament with the exception of Prime Minister Édouard Daladier wanted to accept peace in October 1939. And also, the death toll that people attribute to Stalin, whether it be 20 million, 40 million, 50 million, etc. counts the deaths of Nazi soldiers)
    • That "The lives of millions of Western civilians and soldiers would have been spared" (because Western civilians and soldiers are more important than Eastern civilians and soldiers apparently)
    • That "From his Soviet gulag cell, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn called Roosevelt and Churchill 'stupid.'" (Ah yes, Solzhenitsyn, who is notable for, among other things, saying that "Without Jews there would never have been Bolshevism; for a Jew, nothing is more insulting than the truth.  The bloodthirsty Jewish terrorists have murdered 66,000,000 in Russia from 1918 to 1957,"[8] being pro-Vietnam War and anti-anti-war[9], had his ex-wife Natalya Reshetovskaya tell the New York Times that his famous book (The Gulag Archipelago) was "folklore"[10], and admired the fascist dictator Francisco Franco[11][12]. Yes, that Solzhenitsyn)
    • Criticising Churchill not because of his racism, like, I don't know, murdering 3 million Indians, also during a famine (that he knew was happening), while blaming the Indians for "breeding like rabbits", but because "he didn't let Hitler just exterminate the Slavic Eastern Europeans and Communists in peace"
    • That "the Volga Germans in 1941" were "exterminated" (even though the Volga Germans endured little more than a population transfer as there was fear that they might've sided with the Nazis during the Battle of Stalingrad; which doesn't justify it but it is nothing greater than the Japanese-American internment camps
    • Defending the Chechen "independence fighters" who "today are branded as 'terrorists' by the U.S. and Russia" (because they totally weren't literal Nazi collaborators who considered a military alliance—not a non-aggression pact like the Soviets, French, British, Lithuanians, Estonians, etc.—but a military alliance with the Nazis[13])
    • Complains about the "violent expulsion of 15 million more Germans" (even though not just the Soviets but also Churchill was considering deportations of Germans as early as 1942[14], and what a coincidence that there were around 10 million Nazi soldiers who survived the war plus millions of other Nazi supporters! Regardless, many of the deportations, particularly from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Ukraine, etc. were deportations of settler colonists and ethnonationalists who were financially incentivised by the Nazi regime to move to the newly-conquered territory. What? There were also many deportations from Pomerania and East Prussia? Well, the size of Pomerania and East Prussia increased as the war went on, and a lot of East Prussians living in Prussia were living in Marienwerder which was part of Lithuania until 1937 or Zichenau which was part of Poland Implanting settler colonists is considered genocide).
    • Says that the deportations killed "at least two million ethnic Germans" (figure that comes straight from the West German government; many people, buildings, organisations like the Deutsche Historische Museum who are by no means pro-Soviet estimate that 500,000-600,000 ethnic Germans died at most[15]
    • Names Genrikh Yagoda and then says that "Russia never prosecuted any of its mass murderers, as Germany did" (which is funny considering Yagoda was tried and executed for diamond smuggling, harbouring Trotskyist works, allegedly ordering an NKVD agent to poison Maxim Gorky, allegedly trying to poison Nikolai Yezhov, allegedly working as a German spy which was a legitimate concern at the time, and low level government corruption. The whole point of the Great Purge was getting rid of corruption within the Communist Party of the USSR, which was part of the cause of the Holodomor. And he also says that Germany actually persecuted the Nazis... yeah because they were in the DDR. With the exception of high-ranking Nazis, the West actually rehabilitated Nazis and put them in charge of NATO)
    • Cites Robert Conquest, a British historian who was working for the Information Research Department (the British government's anti-Soviet propaganda department)
    • Says "who remembers Soviet mass murderers Dzerzhinsky, Kaganovich, Yagoda, Yezhov and Beria?" (contradicting his previous statement, as Yagoda, Beria, and Yezhov were all executed during the Great Terror, and Dzerzhinsky died in 1926
    • And says "we might never know of Soviet death camps like Magadan, Kolyma and Vorkuta" (even though the Gulags at Magadan, Kolyma, and Vorkuta were mostly just filled with Japanese prisoners of war or common murderers and thieves sentenced to a maximum of 15-25 years who got paid for their labour. You can't even call it a death camp because they weren't intended to kill anyone; just have them do manual labour, usually via mining, until their sentence was finished)
    • Eric Margolis's class interests aren't aligned with the commoners, which probably influenced his beliefs about socialism and communism. He sold a pharmaceutical company (Jamieson Laboratories LtD, later renamed to Jamieson Vitamins) that he inherited from his father for over 300 million dollars[16].

The exact reasons why Stalin did this are unclear but Ukrainians historically had a strong wish for independence from Russia and resisted Communist rule determinedly, also it seems Stalin had a personal dislike of Ukraine and its leaders.[17]

Pripyat from above during winter

Nazi Occupation

Before the Nazis even invaded, pogroms erupted throughout Ukraine.

Following Operation Barbarossa and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union beginning on 22 June 1941, the Nazis tore into the USSR, conquering vast swaths of land. By the 29th, the Nazis had already occupied Lviv, On 23 August the Nazis arrived at Kiev, and they captured the capital city on 26 September. This was followed by the Babi Yar massacre, the largest mass killing in the Soviet Union and the deadliest killing of the Holocaust up to that point, as it killed almost 34,000 Jews in two-days.

Ukraine was divided into two regions: The District of Galicia (German: Distrikt Galizien) and the Empire Commissary of Ukraine (German: Reichskommissariat Ukraine), abbreviated 'RKU'. The Kingdom of Romania also got its share out of Ukraine (the Transnistria Governate) and continued to aid the Nazis until 1944 as revenge for the annexation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. The Commissary's leader was Erich Koch, a high-ranking member of the Nazi Party, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, and the Reichskommissar of Ukraine; whereas the District was led by a Governor. The first governor was Karl Lasch, who was eventually stripped of his governorship by General Governor Hans Frank in January 1942. Lasch later died in either the Breslau or Auschwitz concentration camps, though it is unknown as to whether he committed suicide or was killed on the orders of Heinrich Himmler. The second governor was Otto Wächter, who served the position from 22 January 1942 until Soviet liberation in 1944. Citizens who weren't killed (usually Nazis themselves) had to pay occupation fees. The ruble as the currency was replaced with the karbovanet.

While 4.5 million Ukrainians joined the Red Army to fight against Germany[18], a large amount of Ukkkrainians also collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation. One famous Ukrainian-language propaganda poster read "гітлер визволитель" (English: Hitler the Liberator). There were many all-Ukrainian military units such as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, the Nachtigall Battalion, the Roland Battalion, the Freiwilligen-Stamm-Regiment Nr. 3 and Nr. 4 (also Russian), the Ostlegionen, and there were also Hilfswilligere ('Hiwi').

The Nazis were later pushed back in 1943-44. Many Eastern Europeans who were previously members of the Communist Party and lived under the German occupation had their membership revoked and were banned from rejoining out of fear of Nazi elements re-emerging within the party apparatus, which is also understandable but also under iffy-territory, sort of like the population transfers of the Volga Germans.


The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is located in Ukraine. The explosion there and the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 under Mikhail Gorbachev caused a major environmental catastrophe. It became a symbol of communism's lack of care about the natural environment in the endless strife for progress (even though the Soviet Union was Capitalist at the time as Gorbachev had sold public institutions for mere pennies).[19] At first the government responded by calling in a fire brigade since the roof was still on fire but they didn't know that it had exploded and didn't believe it had exploded either due to how RBMK reactors worked. The firefighters reported "tasting metal" and "feeling pins and needles on their face."

The government also didn't know that it was happening as the local executive committee was told a version of the events that were downplayed by the plant workers, who thought that an explosion was impossible. The Geiger counters only went up to 3.6 Röntgens per hour while the real number was 20,000 Röntgens per hour (500 Röntgens are lethal). Since the USSR was run by many different groups and committees who had to go through several different layers of bureaucracy, the head of the executive committee couldn't do anything like declare an exclusion zone, force people to stay inside, ban traveling, etc. because he lacked the authority.

So, the head of the executive committee called a meeting, and everyone decided that since the Geiger counters showed a mere 3.5 Röntgens per hour they decided that they would allow people to continue doing what they were doing in the nearby city of Chernobyl. For whatever reason they didn't inform the government of Ukraine. The Minister of Energy also called a meeting with the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and told them that the radiation levels were safe based on what the local executive committee had told him.

Pripyat was evacuated two days later and Chernobyl was evacuated 10 days later, which was a big deal since it was around International Workers' Day. 300,000 people in total were evacuated, however since they were told they were going to be gone for only three days they only brought with them the bare necessities, resulting in them losing most of their stuff.

They dropped a bunch of materials like uranium and sand into the reactor via aeroplane because water wasn't working, and then when they went into the reactor weeks later they discovered that while the fire had died down, 1,200°C corium was melting through the floor and make it to the emergency cooling pumps which would cause an even greater explosion. Three volunteers (Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bespalov, and Boris Baranov) drained the water, but Baranov later died in 2005.

Ukrainian Independence

The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Акт проголошення незалежності України, or Akt proholoshennya nezalezhnosti Ukrayini) was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on 24 August 1991. The Act established Ukraine as an independent, democratic state.

The capital of Ukraine, Kiev, at night

Modern Ukraine

Ukraine is the second largest European country after (European part of) Russia, and 7th European country by population. Russia has at times tried to dominate Ukraine, putting it in Russian sphere of inference, including threats to cut off gas supply during cold Ukrainian winter.

In 2013, after its president Yanukovych declined to sign, protests begun. The presidential response was to stop it by force, which caused even mere intense protests, leading to his deposition and a formation of a new government by neo-Nazis, as well as early presidential elections in May 2014 and early parliamentary elections in October 2014. Due to neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion (which were incorporated into the Ukrainian military) conducting border skirmishes against Russia, Russia started sending military units without badges to Crimea and Donbass to defend itself.


  3. Belash, Alexander; Belash, Victor (1993). Дороги Нестора Махно. Kiev: РВЦ "Проза". ISBN 9785770738148.
  5. Tauger, Mark (1991). "The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933." Slavic Review. 50 (1): 70-89. doi:10.2307/2500600. JSTOR 2500600.
  8. Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr.: Two Hundred Years Together. 1795-1995. Published by Русский_путь (Russian Way). 2002. ISBN 978-5-9697-0372-8
  13. Eduard Abrahamyan. Caucasians in the Abwehr. M. "Yauza", 2006
  17. Stalin’s Forced Famine 1932 - 1933

External links