Understanding the History between Russia and Ukraine


Ukraine (Red) was attacked on all sides by their larger neighbor Russia (Green). Most of the countries to the West of Ukraine are Democratic and were already a part of NATO.

Andrew Powers, Current Events Editor, Entertainment Editor

While many students know about the current escalating invasion of Ukraine by their former parent country of Russia, not many may remember the history between the two countries from their history classes.

Current Russian President Vladimir Putin is claiming that Ukraine is not it’s own country with a stable statehood, and that it has always been part of much larger Russia; However, this statement is blatantly false. 

Both Russia and Ukraine can trace their origins back to the middle ages to a civilization called the Kievan Rus, but the two lands only really joined together in 1793. In 1793, then leader Catherine the Great absorbed a great portion of Ukrainian lands under the Russian Empire. Even though Ukraine was a part of the Russian Empire, it was a smaller part of a larger empire, much like how Ireland used to be a part of the United Kingdom.

Later in 1917, during the revolution that established the Soviet Union, Ukraine fought for their own independence and lost. Then in 1922 it became a part of the Russian powers once again. During Ukraine’s early time in the Soviet Union, the country had its own status. Not a decade later, Stalin took the land away from Ukrainians and gave it to the communist state. 

In 1932, the tragic famine known as the Holodomor took place. The Holodomor was a famine created not from insects or a drought, but the Soviet state itself. Soviet soldiers would go house to house taking every scrap of food they could find, knowing full well this would result in the Ukrainian people starving. Stalin continued this atrocity by arresting and executing Ukrainian artists and intellectuals. Around four million Ukrainians starved to death during this time from 1932 through 1933.

After nearly 60 more years under brutal Soviet rule, Ukraine finally gained freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tensions between the two countries have been high since then, eventually coming to a peak on Feb 24, 2022 when, following up Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the country of Russia invaded a Russian Sympathizing part of Ukraine before advancing towards the capital city of Kyiv. 

Today, Ukrainian soldiers and citizens alike are fighting back against the invading Russian soldiers. Although Ukraine is not a part of NATO, allied countries in NATO can and are supporting Ukraine during this time; However, they are not obligated to send their militaries to defend the country at this time.