Ukraine after the Russian Revolution

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Ukrainian territory was fought over by various factions after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the First World War, which added the collapse of Austria-Hungary to that of the Russian Empire. The crumbling of the empires had a great effect on the Ukrainian nationalist movement and in the short period of four years a number of Ukrainian governments sprung up. This period was characterized by optimism and nation-building, as well as chaos and civil war. It ended in 1921, with the territory of modern-day Ukraine divided between Soviet Ukraine (which would become a constituent republic of the Soviet Union) and Poland, with small regions belonging to Czechoslovakia and Romania.

Alliance and strife[edit]

February 1918 article from The New York Times showing a map of the Russian Imperial territories claimed by Ukraine People’s Republic at the time, before the annexation of the Austro-Hungarian lands of the West Ukrainian People's Republic.

After the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, Ukrainian community leaders were able finally to organized the Central Rada in Kiev (Tsentral’na rada), headed by Mykhailo Hrushevsky. They sought an approval of the Russian Provisional Government in Petrograd (St Petersburg) to establish a regional government. The Central Rada consisted of various political parties such as Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionary, Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party, Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, Jewish Bund, Polish national party, representatives of Army, peasantry, workers, and others. It quickly gained the support of elements of the Imperial Army in Ukraine. On June 23, 1917, the Central Rada issued its First Universal, declaring Ukrainian autonomy within a Russian federation, which was enthusiastically supported by the First All-Ukrainian Peasant Congress on June 28.

Shortly after the early-November Bolshevik coup in Petrograd and a similar event in Kiev, the Central Rada issued the Third Universal on November 20, 1917, declaring a Ukrainian People's Republic in Kiev and condemning the Bolsheviks initiated disorder in Petrograd as politically illegal. Because the legal government in Petrograd was dissolved, the Central Rada had no other choice but to declare its autonomy with its own regional government that was previously approved by the Russian Provisional Government. The UNR refused to recognize the newly installed Soviet government, which in turn caused a tension within the Central Rada. The Bolshevik government demanded an all-Russian union. The Bolsheviks faction convened an All-Ukrainian Congress of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Soviets in Kiev in December demanding from the Central Rada recognition of Sovnarkom. Finding themselves to be a small minority at the congress of 2,500 delegates, the 100 Bolsheviks and a few others left to join a congress of local deputies in Kharkiv which they renamed the All-Ukrainian Congress of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Soviets. They declared the Bolshevik government of Ukraine (Respublyka Rad Ukrayiny) on December 25, 1917 and claimed that the government of the Ukrainian People's Republic were outlaws.

The UNR for couple of months lost Kiev to the Bolsheviks, but pushed them back and maintained control of much of Ukraine, while the Bolsheviks were forced to convene their government in Taganrog, Russia, on the coast of the Sea of Azov. Eventually the Soviet government of Ukraine was dissolved by Stalin, but later supposedly was recreated once again in Moscow by the end of 1918.[citation needed] After the overthrow of the Hetman's government the Bolsheviks forces renewed their aggression claiming to be led by the government of Ukraine. Ukraine sent a note of protest requesting to cease the hostilities; Sovnarkom first ignored the request and later stated that it has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government declared a war on January 16, 1919. The Bolsheviks amid fluid alliances with various anarchists would eventually defeat the Ukrainian army that was fighting on several fronts simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the Western Ukrainian People's Republic (ZUNR) was declared in Lviv on October 19, 1918. The ZUNR formally (and largely symbolically) joined the UNR in hope to gain some support in the war against Poland. A UNR delegation sent to Paris could not gain recognition at the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the World War. UNR forces fared poorly during Polish-Soviet War and a late alliance with Poland wasn't enough to secure the republic. After the Polish-Soviet Peace of Riga, Ukrainian territory found itself split mostly between the Ukrainian SSR in the east, and Poland in the west. Carpathian Ruthenia found itself in Czechoslovakia, and Bukovina in Romania.

In 1922, having secured its territory, Soviet Ukraine joined the Russian, Byelorussian, and Transcaucasian republics to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Ukrainian governments (1917–1920)[edit]

Ukraine during the Soviet era[edit]

  • First Ukrainian Soviet government: December 25, 1917 – March 1918.
  • Second Ukrainian Soviet government: November 20, 1918 – August 1919.
  • All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee: April 1919 – July 1919.
  • Third Ukrainian Soviet government: December 21, 1919 – 1991.
  • Galician Revkom: July 8, 1920 – September 21, 1920

See also[edit]