The Trypillian Civilization
The history of Ukraine dates back to the 4th millennium BC. Its territory bares the trace of a unique Trypillian culture that laid the foundation for the formation of the European civilization. Nothing in human history had such a decisive influence on human life as the transition to farming. The Trypillians raised the farming culture to the highest level, were the fist in the history to solve the provision problem, started constructing sedentary settlements, real houses, and developed different crafts and arts. The Ukrainians genetically and spiritually come from this extraordinary civilization.
Classical Culture in the Territory of Ukraine
An essential contribution to the further cultural and political development of the Ukrainian nation was made by the Greeks, who helped Ukraine enter the historical arena. Beginning in the 8th century, Greek colonies started appearing in the south of today’s Ukrainian territory. The colonists came here carrying the banner of peace, trade and culture. The Greeks showed the benefits of democracy and republic, and contributed to the development of architecture and arts.
The Powerful Kyivan Rus
In the 10th-11th centuries AD, the territory of Ukraine witnessed the spring of a powerful European princedom called Kyivan Rus that played an extremely important role in world history. Kyivan Rus was a strong shield for Europe, protecting it from the raids of steppe nomads coming from the East and willing to move further to the west. Being in the middle of trade roots, Rus acted as a point of contact between the Arab East and Western Europe, Byzantine Empire and Scandinavia, maintained wide trading networks with many countries of the world and promoted global trade. The main trading water rout of Kyivan Rus was the rout from the Varangians to Greeks’. It started near contemporary Stockholm, ran on the Baltic Sea, West Dvina, tributaries of the Dnieper and further on the Black Sea to reach Constantinople, thus connecting the northern parts of the country with southern Russian lands and Scandinavian countries with the Byzantine Empire.
Kyivan Rus was pursuing ambitious foreign policy—maintaining political and cultural ties with Byzantium, Bulgaria, Moravia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, France, England, Norway and Sweden—and entering into dynastical marriages with the ruling families of most European countries. In particular, Anna, a daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, was married to Henry I, the king of France. After his death, she ruled France till the maturity of her son Philippe.
Owing to the high level of economy, culture and education and successful diplomatic activities, Kyivan Rus became one of the largest and most powerful countries in the Europe of Early Middle Ages, and gained certain standing on the international arena.
Following the decline of the Kyivan Rus, the idea of national identity of the Ukrainian people appeared in the times of Cossacks. In the 15th century, a unique military and political organisation—Cossack Hetmanate—first appeared. It was the first democratic entity in Europe. The Cossack Host was a model combination of democracy, strict order and self-discipline, the cradle of Ukrainian statehood. It controlled vast lands, maintained a massive army and had a well-organised administration. The Cossacks had their own political and administrative centre called Sich, and elected their leaders based on democratic principles. They had their own symbols and attributes: banners, a hymn and a coat of arms.
The Cossacks days were marked by the War for Independence of 1648-1654, lead by the Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi. And in 1710, the Hetman Pylyp Orlyk wrote one of the first European constitutions of the modern age, which specified the rights and duties of all members of the Cossack Host.
The history of the Cossacks consists of constant wars for the Ukrainian land with the Turkish Sultan, the Khan of the Crimea and the Polish Szlachta. The Cossack army was one of the best in Europe, and thus many monarchs resorted to its help. The Cossacks not only cherished the idea of an independent Ukraine, but also made all possible efforts to gain it. The Cossack Host was second to none in human history, and is rightly called a unique phenomenon of the human civilisation.
The Soviet Era
In 1918–1919, Ukraine fell under Bolshevik power, and subsequently entered the USSR as the Ukrainian Soviet Social Republic. Ukraine had significant economic potential: it was one of the main machine building centres of the USSR, the major producer of the main food products for the population and raw materials for industry. It was called “the breadbasket of Europe”. Also, Ukraine was successfully developing different sciences, including medicine, geology, radio physics, cybernetics and cosmonautics. Ukrainian scientists were the first in the USSR to develop a cross functional high-speed computer and create a magnetron generator. They also made an enormous contribution in the construction of sea ships, tanks, planes and space rockets. At the same time, Ukraine carried out a real cultural and educational revolution by actively fighting illiteracy, improving the system of education and rapidly forming the new intellectual stratum.
The Longed-for Independence
The striving of Ukrainians for independence, democracy and stability was severely tried with time. We achieved this aim in 1991. Currently, Ukraine is a young and fast-growing country. We are building a new democratic society and have the possibility to not only be proud of our history, but to apply our vast historical experience to this building.
Since gaining its independence, Ukraine has become a member of the Council of Europe and the Central European Initiative. It has also strengthened relationships with such powerful international organisations as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Overcoming difficulties, Ukraine continues its pursuit of broadening its diplomatic presence in the world, gaining weight in Europe, becoming an active participant in international processes with its national interests maintained among other European peoples.
Euro 2012 was one of the hardest and most demanding projects undertaken by Ukraine since gaining its independence. Euro 2012 became an important stimulus for large-scale investments and infrastructure development in the country, and Ukraine will enjoy its benefits for many years to come.
In 2013 and 2014 a wave of demonstrations raised across Ukraine when ex-President Yanukovych refused to sign the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement.
In February 2014 the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from power.
In March 2014 unmarked pro-Russian and Russian forces took over and then annexed Crimea.
In April 2014 pro-Russian separatists seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Russian border. Government launched a full-scale ‘anti-terror’ operation in response.
In May 2014 prominent businessman Petro Poroshenko won presidential election on pro-Western platform, capturing more than 54% of the vote in the first round.
In July 2014 President Poroshenko signed the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement.
In September 2014 Ukrainian government signed Minsk peace plan ceasefire with pro-Russian leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk regions