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 Ukrainian history - a timeline of Ukraine since the 3rd century

Ukrainian history timeline beginning with the Goths and Huns, Middle Ages and Kievan Rus, Christianization, Polish, Austrian and Russian Empires, communist and post communist period.

Pre 911 Period before the formation of Kyivan Rus'

Around 270 AD the Goths arrived followed by Huns 100 years later in around 370, culminating in battle of Nedao in 454. With the power vacuum created with the end of Hunnic and Gothic rule, Slavic tribes and Varangians (Vikings) gained control together with the Khazar Empire from the east. The term 'Rus' comes from a group of Varangians, supposed to be Norsemen.

911 Kyivan Rus' is born with the treaty between Prince Oleh and the Byzantine Empire.

After sending his envoys to the Byzantine Empire in 911, Prince Oleh instructed them to conclude a new, more comprehensive, and legally binding treaty between the Greeks and Rus-Ukraine. The treaty was signed on Sept. 2, 911. A chronicler noted that the parties to the 911 treaty “confirmed their love in writing not by word of mouth, as before, but took an oath on their weapons, as Rus’ law requires.” and consisted of 10 articles.
The treaties of 907 and 911 are very valuable sources of information about our history, as they present Rus’-Ukraine as a state that was culturally comparable to the Byzantine Empire and had its own political organization and viable legislation.

988 Christian conversion of Kyivan Rus'. Marriage of Volodymyr and Anna.

The Primary Chronicle reports that, in the year 986, Volodymyr met with representatives from several religions and agreed to accept Orthodox Christianity. Prior to the wedding, Volodymyr was baptized (either in Chersonesos or in Kyiv), taking the Christian name of Basil, the sacrament was followed by his marriage with the Greek Princess Anna, daughter of Byzantine Emperor Romanos II and the Empress Theophano. By the 11th century, Kievan Rus' was, geographically, the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia (the Latin name for Rus'), especially for western principalities of Rus' after the Mongol invasion. The name "Ukraine", meaning "in-land" or "native-land", usually interpreted as "border-land", first appears in historical documents of 12th century and then on history maps of the 16th century period.

1199 Prince Roman Mstyslavycha creates a powerful state in western Rus' lasting nearly 150 years

In 1054 the death of Prince Yaroslav caused Kyivan Rus' to be split up into 13 principalities which continued on until Prince Roman Mstyslavych of Volyn' (Volhynia) took Halych in 1199 and in 1202 he occupied Kyiv creating a powerful state in western Rus'. His son, Danylo Romanovych, consolidated his control of Galicia and Volyn' in the 1240s and took the Rus' territories occupied by Lithuania in the north and extended his rule beyond Kyiv in the east.
After the enormous destruction by the Mongol invasion of Rus' in 1239-41, Danylo Romanovych was forced to pledge allegiance to Batu Khan of the Golden Horde but his Principality of Halychyna-Volyn' (Galicia-Volhynia) retained a considerable degree of independence and the city of Lviv was founded in around 1250. His policies were continued by his son Lev Danylovych and other members of the Romanovych dynasty.

14th-16th centuries Lithuanian-Ruthenian state

The death of the last Ukrainian prince of Galicia, Yurii II Boleslav, in 1340 marks the end of the Princely era in the history of Ukraine. The Lithuanian southward expansion reached its peak during the reign of Grand Duke Algirdas (ruled 1345-77) who succeeded in unifying all of the Belarusian and most of the Ukrainian territories in what many scholars have referred to as the Lithuanian-Ruthenian state. During the height of its expansion this state included nearly half of the former territory of Kyivan Rus'. Since only 10 percent of the realm was inhabited by Lithuanians, the official culture, language, law code, and religion of the new state became Ruthenian (ie, Ukrainian-Belarusian). In 1491 the First Cyrillic printing presses appeared in Krakow, Schweipolt Fiol was a German-born 15th century pioneer of printing in Eastern Europe, founder of the Slavic Cyrillic script typography and in 1573 Ivan Fedorovych established a printing press in Lviv.

1648 Bohdan Khmelnytskyi creates a Ukrainian Cossack state lasting over 100 years

First mention of the Ukrainian Kozaks (Cossacks) appeared around 1490 and by 1648 Bohdan Khmelnytskyi First Hetman (leader) of Ukraine, led the revolt which initiated the war for independence of the Ukrainian nation (1648-54). Hetmanate (Ukrainian Cossack state) existed from 1648 to 1782 and came into existence as a result of the Cossack-Polish War and the alliance of the registered Cossacks with the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Sich and other segments of the Ukrainian populace. In 1663 the Hetmanate in Right-Bank Ukraine came under Polish domination, while the Left Bank came under Muscovite control. A period of civil war ensued, known as the Ruin, as various Left- and Right-Bank hetmans, backed by their respective supporters, attempted to re-establish a unitary state. Despite these efforts, the partition of the Hetmanate was confirmed by the Muscovite-Polish Treaty of Andrusovo (1667) and the Eternal Peace of 1686. When the Cossacks were abolished by Poland in 1700 on the Right Bank, the Hetmanate was left with only the lands of the Left Bank.

1700 Oleksa Dovbush (Олекса Довбуш) born Pechenizhyn Kolomyia

Oleksa was born in the Hutsul village of Pechenizhyn in the Carpathian Mountains and became the leader of his own band that consisted of almost 50 members (leheni). Protector to the poor people of the region the many folk-songs portray him as a local hero who robbed the rich and helped the poor serfs, like the mythical Robin Hood. His residence is believed to be near Bolekhiv in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. It is a rock complex called the Rocks of Dovbush which was nominated in the seven historical and seven natural wonders of Ukraine. The Dovbush deeds became so admired that the tales of his acts spread beyond the Hutsul region to the neighboring Pokuttia and Podillya regions of western Ukraine. His portraits were sold at local market places. He was feared by the Polish szlachta (landowning nobility). Once, a military expedition of 2000 soldiers, headed by Polish magnate Józef Potocki, was sent to stop his activities. Nonetheless, he could not be captured. Dovbush was shot and mortally wounded by one Stefan, the husband of his lover Dzvinka, in 1745.

1793 Division of Ukraine between Russia and Poland

Most of Ukraine fell to the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine the Great; in 1793 right-bank Ukraine was annexed by Russia in the Second Partition of Poland. Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were inspired by the nationalistic spirit stirring other European peoples existing under other imperial governments. Russia, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate the Ukrainian language and culture, even banning its use and study. The Russophile policies of Russification and Panslavism led to an exodus of a number of Ukrainian intellectuals into Western Ukraine, while others embraced a Pan-Slavic or Russian identity. This lead to some great Ukrainian authors and musicians being thought of as Russian, notably Mykola Hohol (Nikolai Gogol) and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

19th Century Industrialisation, suppression, artists, authors and composers

 1809 Dramatist Nikolai Gogol born.   1814 Poet Taras Shevchenko born.   1805 Kharkiv University is established.   1834 Kyiv University is established.   1840 First edition of Taras Shevchenko's "Kobzar".   1853-56 Crimean War, Russia against an alliance of Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire, Sardinia and the Austrian Empire.   1857 Poet Ivan Yakovych Franko born   1861 First railway on Ukrainian territory opens between Peremyshl and Lviv.   1863 Russia bans Ukrainian language in literature used for religion and schooling. (Valuev Circular decree )   1866 Mykhailo Serhiyovych Hrushevsky (academician, politician, historian, and statesman) born.   1870 Industrialization of the Donbas begins.   1873 Mykola Ivanovich Mikhnovsky (political and social activist, lawyer, journalist, founder, ideologue and leader of a Ukrainian independence movement) born.   1876 Russia bans Ukrainian language in all print, staging of plays and lectures (Ems Ukaz decree).   1881 Beginning of iron ore mining in Kryviy Rih   1882 First edition of Ivan Franko "Boryslav is Laughing".   1890 First Ukrainian political party 'The Radical Party' was founded in Lviv by a group of Ukrainian activists including the poet Ivan Franko.   1898 Publication of the first volume of Michael Hrushevsky's "History of Ukraine-Rus'"..

1900-1921 Short lived rebirth of Ukrainian State

 1900 First edition of Mykola Mikhnovsky "Independent Ukraine".  1905 Annulment of the restrictions on the use of the Ukrainian language in the Russian Empire.  1909 Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (Ukrainian political activist and leader of the Ukrainian nationalist and independence movement) born.  1917 Rebirth of Ukrainian State, Central Rada (Council) set up in Kyiv following collapse of Russian Empire.  1918 Ukraine declares independence: Ukrainian People's Republic set up. Numerous rival governments vie for control for some or all of Ukraine during ensuing civil war.

1921 Russian Red Army conquers two-thirds of Ukraine

On March 18, 1921, Poland signed a peace treaty in Riga, Latvia with Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine. This effectively ended Poland's alliance obligations with Petliura's Ukrainian People's Republic. According to this treaty, the Bolsheviks recognized Polish control over Galicia (Ukrainian: Halychyna) and western Volhynia – the western part of Ukraine – while Poland recognized the larger central parts of Ukrainian territory, as well as eastern and southern areas, as part of Soviet Ukraine.
Having secured peace on the Western front, the Bolsheviks immediately moved to crush the remnants of the White Movement. After a final offensive in the Isthmus of Perekop, the Red Army overran Crimea. Wrangel evacuated the Volunteer Army to Constantinople in November 1920. After its military and political defeat, the Directorate continued to maintain control over some of its military forces; in October 1921, it launched a series of guerrilla raids into central Ukraine that reached as far east as the modern Kyiv Oblast ("Kiev province"). On November 4, the Directorate's guerrillas captured Korosten and seized a cache of military supplies. But on November 17, 1921, this force was surrounded by Bolshevik cavalry and destroyed..

1932-33 Around 7 million perish on the orders of Stalin

Soviet police confiscated homes, livestock, wheat crops, and valuable possessions, imposing heavy grain taxes and deliberately leaving families to starve. Those who resisted giving up their homes and crops, were violently shot to death or deported to regions in Siberia. Families, who tried to hide grain resources, in order to sustain a source of food, were killed. This campaign of terror was organized to instill fear within the people, and force them to relinquish all that they had. The ultimate goal was to have these people embrace Soviet-ism and abandon all nationalistic pride. A system of internal passports prevented Ukrainians from leaving their towns and villages. Thus villagers were not able to cross the border and escape the torment by fleeing to other countries. When news of the Famine reached the Ukrainian Diaspora in the United States and Europe, food supplies were sent to Ukraine to assist the starving people. However all food shipments were denied at the border by Soviet authorities. Following the Soviet Union’s policy of denying any allegations having to do with the Famine, all outside assistance was refused. Even journalists were not allowed in Ukraine, however Malcolm Muggeridge decided to investigate reports of the famine in Ukraine, travelling there and to the Caucasus without obtaining the permission of the Soviet authorities his reports were sent back to the Manchester Guardian in the diplomatic bag, thus evading censorship, although they were not fully printed and were not published under Muggeridge's name. At the same time, rival journalist Gareth Jones, who had met Muggeridge in Moscow, published his own stories that served to confirm the extent of the famine. Writing in the New York Times, Walter Duranty denied the existence of any famine, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Gareth Jones wrote letters to the Manchester Guardian in support of Muggeridge's articles about the famine. All the grain taken from Ukrainian farmers were exported to European countries, and the money generated from these sales, were used to fuel Stalin’s Five Year Plan for the transformation of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union purchased many products and weapons from Western countries. Those western countries in return remained silent in regards to the starving Ukrainians. Grain that was not yet shipped out was reserved in granaries. While the animals that were needed for work on the farms were fed, the people were left to starve. The granaries were guarded to ensure no one would steal grain supplies. Anyone who attempted to do so was shot and killed. The word Holodomor literally translated from Ukrainian means "death by hunger", or "to kill by hunger, to starve to death". Sometimes the expression is translated into English as "murder by hunger or starvation". Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by the independent Ukraine and 24 other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet Union.

1937 Mass executions and deportations by Stalin

in 1937 Stalin decided to liquidate the entire leadership of the Ukrainian Soviet government and by June 1938 the top seventeen ministers of the Ukrainian Soviet government were arrested and executed. The prime minister, Liubchenko, committed suicide, almost the entire Central Committee and Politburo of Ukraine perished. An estimated 37% of the Communist party members in Ukraine - about 170,000 people - were purged.

1940s/50s World War II and aftermarth

 1939-44 Ukraine suffers terrible wartime devastation as more than 5 million Ukrainians die fighting Nazis.   1944 Stalin deports 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Siberia and Central Asia following unfounded accusations of collaboration with the Nazis.   1945 Allied victory in World War II leads to conclusive Soviet annexation of western Ukrainian lands, Lemkivshchyna was given to Poland and Ukrainians who once fought against the Germans were now defending themselves against the Soviet Union. By 1949 the armed resistance to Soviet rule ends with defeat of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).   1947 Operation Visla (Vistula) was the codename for the 1947 forced resettlement of post-war Poland's Ukrainian minority to the Recovered Territories, carried out by the Soviet controlled Polish Communist authorities in order to remove the support base for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia were sent from collection points to the concentration camp in Jaworzno called the Central Labour Camp which was a branch of the formerly German concentration camp Auschwitz. The captives, of whom 200 died in the camp, were subject to harsh interrogations and beatings despite the fact that no active members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists were sent to the camp. For the latter, show trials by the extraordinary Operation Group Visla Tribunals or regular military tribunals were held, and over 500 were sentenced to death and executed and the remaining expellees were resettled over a wide area in the Northern (Warmia and Masuria) and Western Territories acquired by the People's Republic of Poland following the Potsdam Agreement. Operation "Visla" itself was officially ended as early July 31, 1947 and the last resettlements took place as late as 1952.

1960s/70s/80s Soviet Union cracks down on Ukrainian intelligentsia

 1960s-70s In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Soviet government cracked down on the dissident movement including Ukrainian intelligentsia, writers and artists too. Ordinary people were also exiled to Siberia and property ceased and never returned purely because a family were wealthy or thought to be too Ukrainian. Several concentration camps in the Perm region were transformed into the harshest camps for political prisoners. Levko Lukjanenko one of the leaders of the struggle for Ukrainian freedom and independence spent twenty-five years in Soviet camps and three years in exile. After his release he was the Ukraine Republic’s ambassador to Canada and a member of Parliament. From around the 1960s nearly all dissertations were required to be written in Russian so scientific works were written exclusively in Russian and studying Russian in all schools was not optional but was a requirement, in the 1980s the teaching of Russia was ordered to be improved.   1986 A reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes, sending a radioactive plume across Europe. Desperate efforts are made to contain the damaged reactor within a huge concrete cover. Many armed forces personnel die of radiation sickness.   1988 Prominent writers and intellectuals set up Ukrainian People's Movement for Restructuring (Rukh).   1990 Student protests and hunger strikes bring down government of Vitaliy Masol.