ISBN : 9780190237288
When guns began firing again in Europe, why was it Ukraine that became the battlefield? Conventional wisdom dictates that Ukraine's current crisis can be traced to the linguistic differences and divided political loyalties that have long fractured the country. However this theory only 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. President Vladimir Putin reacted aggressively by annexing the Crimea and sponsoring the war in eastern Ukraine; and Russia's actions subsequently prompted Western sanctions and growing international tensions reminiscent of the Cold War. Though the media portrays the situation as an ethnic conflict, an internal Ukrainian affair, it is in reality reflective of a global discord, stemming from differing views on state power, civil society, and democracy.
The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know explores Ukraine's contemporary conflict and complicated history of ethnic identity, and it does do so by weaving questions of the country's fraught relations with its former imperial master, Russia, throughout the narrative. In denying Ukraine's existence as a separate nation, Putin has adopted a stance similar to that of the last Russian tsars, who banned the Ukrainian language in print and on stage. Ukraine emerged as a nation-state as a result of the imperial collapse in 1917, but it was subsequently absorbed into the USSR. When the former Soviet republics became independent states in 1991, the Ukrainian authorities sought to assert their country's national distinctiveness, but they failed to reform the economy or eradicate corruption. As Serhy Yekelchyk explains, for the last 150 years recognition of Ukraine as a separate nation has been a litmus test of Russian democracy, and the Russian threat to Ukraine will remain in place for as long as the Putinist regime is in power. In this concise and penetrating book, Yekelchyk describes the current crisis in Ukraine, the country's ethnic composition, and the Ukrainian national identity. He takes readers through the history of Ukraine's emergence as a sovereign nation, the after-effects of communism, the Orange Revolution, the EuroMaidan, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the war in the Donbas, and the West's attempts at peace making. The Conflict in Ukraine is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the forces that have shaped contemporary politics in this increasingly important part of Europe.
Chapter 1: Why Ukraine?
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?
Chapter 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?
Chapter 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 1917-20?
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 1932-33) and was it genocide?
As one of the Soviet Union's main grain-producing areas, the Ukrainian SSR suffered
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?
Chapter 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?
Is Ukraine dependent on Russian gas supplies?
Chapter 5: The Orange Revolution and the EuroMaidan
What did the two recent revolutions in Ukraine (2004 and 2013-14) 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 2004-5?
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 2013-14, as opposed to 2004?
Where did Yanukovych escape and how was the transfer of power formalized?
Was either of the two Ukrainian revolutions the result of a Western conspiracy?
Chapter 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 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 17 July 2014?
What has been the human cost of the armed conflict in the Donbas?
Chapter 7: Building a New Ukraine in a Globalized World
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?
How should the results of the 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine be interpreted?
What was the composition of the new Ukrainian government, and what were its first steps?
What are the consequences of Ukraine's Association Agreement with the EU?
Has the Ukrainian crisis sparked a new Cold War?
"Excellent... a succinct, lucid text that is ideal for newcomers to recent Ukrainian events." --The Financial Times