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Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® (2nd edition)
Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® (2nd edition)
  • Fully revised and updated second edition of The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know®
  • Written by one of the leading scholars of Ukrainian, Russian, and East European history
  • Addresses Ukraine's relations with the West, specifically in the context of the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections
Conventional wisdom dictates that Ukraine's political crises can be traced to the linguistic differences and divided political loyalties that have long fractured the country. However, this theory obscures the true significance of Ukraine's recent civic revolution and the conflict's crucial international dimension. The 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution presented authoritarian powers in Russia with both a democratic and a geopolitical challenge. In reality, political conflict in Ukraine is reflective of global discord, stemming from differing views on state power, civil society, and democracy.
Ukraine's sudden prominence in American politics has compounded an already-widespread misunderstanding of what is actually happening in the nation. In the American media, Ukraine has come to signify an inherently corrupt place, rather than a real country struggling in the face of great challenges. Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® is an updated edition of Serhy Yekelchyk's 2015 publication, The Conflict in Ukraine. It addresses Ukraine's relations with the West, particularly the United States, from the perspective of Ukrainians. The book explains how independent Ukraine fell victim to crony capitalism, how its people rebelled twice in the last two decades in the name of democracy and against corruption, and why Russia reacted so aggressively to the strivings of Ukrainians. Additionally, it looks at what we know about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, the factors behind the stunning electoral victory of the political novice Volodymyr Zelensky, and the ways in which the events leading to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump have changed the Russia-Ukraine-US relationship.
This volume is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the forces that have shaped contemporary politics in this increasingly important part of Europe, as well as the international background of the impeachment proceedings in the US.


1. Why Ukraine?

Why did Ukraine become a key reference point of American political struggles?
What is the Maidan, and what made it top news around the world?
How and why did Russia annex the Crimea from Ukraine?
Why did fighting break out in eastern Ukraine in the spring of 2014?
Why did the Ukrainian crisis cause tensions between Russia and the West?

2. The Land and the People
What is Ukraine's geographical location, and what natural resources and industry does it possess?
What is Ukraine's demography and ethnic composition?
Who are the Ukrainians, and what is modern Ukrainian national identity?
Is it true that Ukraine is split into pro-Western and pro-Russian halves?
How large is the Ukrainian diaspora, and what role does it play in North American politics?

3. The Making of Modern Ukraine
Was Ukraine always part of Russia?
What was the medieval state of Kyivan Rus', and was it a Russian or Ukrainian polity?
Who were the Cossacks?
Is it true that Ukraine was "reunited" with Russia in 1654?
Who was Ivan Mazepa, and why is he considered a "traitor" in Russia?
What were Russia's imperial policies in Ukraine?
Did the Austrian Empire govern its Ukrainian lands differently?
What happened in the Ukrainian lands during the revolutionary turmoil of 1917-1920?
Why did the Bolsheviks create a Ukrainian republic within the Soviet Union, and how did they determine its borders?
What was the Holodomor (the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933), and was it genocide?
Is it true that all the Ukrainian lands were united in a single polity for the first time under Stalin?
What is Babi Yar, and how did the Holocaust unfold in Ukraine?
Who was Stepan Bandera, and what was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army?
What were the Soviet policies in Ukraine during the postwar period?
Who were the dissidents, and how did they contribute to the collapse of communism?
Why did the Chernobyl accident happen, and what was its impact on Ukraine?

4. Ukraine after Communism
Did the Ukrainians have to fight the Russians in order to secede from the Soviet Union?
What is the Commonwealth of Independent States?
When and why did Ukraine give up its nuclear arsenal?
What were Ukraine's relations with the West and Russia in the first decade after independence?
Did the presidents of independent Ukraine promote a united national identity?
What religions came to prominence in Ukraine after the Soviet collapse?
How did independent Ukraine become an inefficient economy and a paragon of crony capitalism?
Who are the oligarchs?
How did the Ukrainian authorities and various Western agencies deal with the corruption issue?
Is Ukraine dependent on Russian gas supplies?

5. The Orange Revolution and the EuroMaidan
What did the two recent revolutions in Ukraine (2004 and 2013-2014) have in common?
Why did mass protests against President Kuchma develop in the early 2000s, and who led them?
What sparked the Orange Revolution in 2004?
Was Yushchenko poisoned, and were the culprits ever prosecuted?
How was a peaceful resolution reached in the winter of 2004-2005?
Did the victors of the Orange Revolution manage to create a new Ukraine?
How did Viktor Yanukovych return to power, first as prime minister and later as president?
Why was Yulia Tymoshenko imprisoned?
What caused the new popular revolt in late 2013?
What role did the Ukrainian radical right play in the protests, and what symbols did they use?
What led to the high number of casualties on the Maidan in 2013-2014, as opposed to 2004?
Where did Yanukovych seek asylum, and how was the transfer of power formalized?
Was either of the two Ukrainian revolutions the result of a Western conspiracy?

6. Russia's Annexation of the Crimea and the War in the Donbas
What shared characteristics led the Crimean Peninsula and the Donbas region to become conflict zones?
What was "New Russia," and why did President Putin revive this concept?
Who are the Crimean Tatars?
Why was the Crimea transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954?
Did the Crimea try to separate from Ukraine in the 1990s?
Was there a previous conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet, and how was it resolved?
Why was Russia able to take over the Crimea so quickly and with so little resistance?
How is the Crimea being absorbed into Russia?
Was the Donbas historically a Russian region?
Is it true that a separate republic existed in the Donbas during the revolutionary era?
Did the Donbas stand out among other Ukrainian regions during the late Soviet period and the post-communist transformation?
Why did the armed conflict with the new Ukrainian authorities start in the Donbas and not in other eastern regions in the spring of 2014?
What polities did the separatists create in the Donbas, and why did Russia not annex them outright, as was the case with the Crimea?
Why did the Ukrainian army initially perform poorly compared to the pro-Russian forces in the Donbas?
Under what circumstances was the Malaysian Airlines passenger flight shot down over the Donbas on July 17, 2014?
How has the Ukrainian army performed since 2014?
What has been the human cost of the armed conflict in the Donbas?

7. The War in Ukraine as an International Issue
What sanctions did the West introduce against Russia, and did they work?
Did Western diplomatic mediation assist in the de-escalation of the conflict in the Donbas?
What assistance has the US provided to Ukraine since 2014?
What role has the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe been playing in monitoring the conflict?
What is the Steinmeier Formula, and why did it become a stumbling block in the peace process?
How can one evaluate Petro Poroshenko's tenure as president (2014-2019)?
What are the consequences of Ukraine's Association Agreement with the European Union?
What were the results of the anti-corruption policies during the Poroshenko presidency?
Did the Ukrainian authorities meddle in the 2016 presidential election in the US?
What do we know about the involvement of Joe Biden and his son in Ukrainian affairs?
How can one explain the sweeping victory of Volodymyr Zelensky and his party in the Ukrainian presidential and parliamentary elections of 2019?
What were the first steps taken by the new Ukrainian authorities?
How did the Zelensky administration react to the attempts to embroil Ukraine in American politics?
How did the issue of election interference change the dynamics within the triangle Russia-Ukraine-US?

Further Reading

About the author: 

Serhy Yekelchyk is Professor of History and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria. He has published widely on modern Ukrainian history and Russian-Ukrainian relations.

"Excellent... a succinct, lucid text that is ideal for newcomers to recent Ukrainian events." --The Financial Times

"This reliable and accessible sourcebook by an accomplished and gifted Ukrainian historian beautifully conveys the knowledge we need to prevent misunderstandings, avoid stereotypes, and decode propaganda. It should be on the desk, the bedside, or the airplane tray table of everyone who is working to undersand Ukraine or to help Europe resolve its major crisis." --Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands and Black Earth

Product details

ISBN : 9780197532119

Serhy Yekelchyk
208 Pages
140 x 210 mm mm
Pub date
Oct 2020
What Everyone Needs to Know
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Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® (2nd edition)

Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® (2nd edition)

Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know® (2nd edition)