Located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine was once part of the Russian, then Soviet empire, from the late 18th century until the end of the Cold War. For a brief period toward the end of World War I, Ukraine declared autonomy, which was followed by three years of civil war. The civil war ended with the western part of Ukrainian territory being incorporated into Poland, and the larger, central and eastern regions being incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922. As Stalin rose to power in Russia, the Soviets began to impose draconian restrictions on Ukraine, creating an artificial famine and starving millions to death. When the Nazis and Soviets invaded Poland in 1939, the western part of Ukraine was incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1941, the Nazis invaded Ukraine as part of Germany’s larger attack on the USSR. At first, some Ukrainians welcomed the Germans as a liberating force from Communism, but eventually they realized the true brutality of the regime. Hitler killed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews, ethnic Ukrainians and others. After World War II, the Soviet Union regained control of Ukraine, dominating its politics for the next 40 years.
Lay of the Land: Ukraine is the largest country located wholly in Europe, with an area of 233,000 square miles. Kiev, the capital, has a population of 2.8 million. The terrain is bounded by the Carpathian Mountains in the southwest and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south.
Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, and Goths were the first groups to settle in what is now Ukraine, arriving throughout the first millennium BC. Each group was known to Greek and Roman traders, and each set up trading outposts that eventually became city-states.
The first wave of Ukrainian immigrants came to the US in 1877 as strikebreakers to the industrialized northeast; before World War I, 70% of the 350,000 Ukrainian immigrants lived in Pennsylvania. The inter-war immigrants numbered only 15,000, and assimilated more easily than their predecessors. Another 80,000 came as displaced persons, refugees from war, and the oppressive Soviet regime.
US officials supported the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, warning the former regime against trying to impose fraudulent election results, and hailing Yushchenko’s ultimate victory. President Yushchenko visited the United States from April 4-7, 2005, and had meetings with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Yushchenko’s address to a joint session of Congress on April 6 was interrupted by several standing ovations.
From 2004 to 2008, US imports from Ukraine included iron and steel mill products (semi-finished), increasing from $536.9 million to $991.8 million; drilling and oil field equipment and platforms, moving up from $44.9 million to $165.8 million; fuel oil, rising from $51.1 million to $143.4 million; and steelmaking and ferroalloying materials, increasing from $106 million to $278.7 million.
Bush Suggested Ukraine Join NATO
Human rights groups asserted that in 2008 soldiers continued to kill other soldiers during violent hazing events. The Kharkiv office of the International Society for Human Rights reported that violent hazing continued to be widespread. According to the military watchdog group Mothers of Killed Soldiers, most deaths are labeled suicide or accident and were not investigated.
Note: The United States recognized Ukraine Dec 26, 1991. Embassy Kiev was established Jan 23, 1992, with Jon Gundersen as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
Oleksandr Motsyk was took over as Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States on June 11, 2010.
William B. served as the United States Ambassador to Ukraine beginning on May 26, 2006. Taylor graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. As an infantry officer in the US Army, he served in Vietnam and Germany.