UKRAINE      


 

Ukrainian Nationalism

 Philip Sanchez,

May 2000

 

 Within the past 60 years, the Ukraine has experienced an era of great change and political upheaval. The country has been the victim of annexation, rusification, boarder fluctuation, and the exploitation of its resources and output. During the time period ranging from the rule of the Bolsheviks in the early twentieth century to its liberation in the 1990’s, the Ukraine has remained a country of great economic potential and cultural diversity.

 The Ukraine was known as the “breadbasket” of Soviet Russia. The country’s agricultural sector produced 21% of Russia’s agricultural output. The country’s fertile “black soil” encourages crop production such as wheat, rice, grains, fruit, flax, hemp, and poppy. The land not only encourages agricultural output, but also bears many mineral rich deposits such as titanium ore, mercury, sulfur, coal, petroleum, and manganese. The Ukrainian coal deposits, lying in the Donets Basin, are estimated to contain over seventy billion tons (Manning, 194). The iron mines of Krivy Rih contain iron ore of up to 55% purity (Manning, 195).

 

Significant contributions to Soviet energy production came from thermal power stations and natural gas, which accounted for one third of Soviet output. The industrial sector’s production comprised 17% of total Soviet output. The Ukraine possesses many metallurgical and heavy industries. The steel working industry is the fifth largest in the world, in addition to the iron working industry, the Ukraine produced 1/3 of the Soviet Union’s cast iron, rolled steel, and steel pipe and 47% of the country’s steel (Manning 196).

 

 The country also contributed heavily to national defense and war efforts, producing aircraft carriers, rockets, and naval vessels.  As it is apparent, the Ukraine functioned as the workhorse of the Soviet Union. Although Soviet leaders exploited the high productivity of the country, it was often hypothesized that the actions they took actually slowed the nation’s industrial growth. Although the Soviet Union obtained almost half of its steel from the Ukraine, only 17% of finished mechanical products actually were produced in the Ukraine. The development of heavy industry in the Urals and Siberia shifted much industrial focus away from the Ukraine. This intensive investment in the eastern part of the Union, due also to German invasion caused the moving of many factories to the east. Furthermore, the execution of the Five Year Plan reduced the total coal and iron production significantly (Manning: 197).

 

The Ukrainians had much to be proud of. It was among the largest and by far the most economically significant of the Soviet territories. The demographic and religious groups that constituted the citizenry of the country were many. Included were Ukrainian orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish (Kyn website). In addition to this, the Ukrainian people have cultivated many art forms through the years (Armstrong, 5). These forms of expression that characterized the country were often compromised or repressed altogether in accordance with the Soviet regime. The 1930’s brought a halt to all avant-garde forms of art when the Communist party of Russia permitted only one form of painting within the Union. All art forms were required to depict a “glorification of the Communist State and its leaders” and “portraits and genre scenes of smiling workers, and to romanticized depictions of war and its heroes (Zelska-Darewych, 13).

 

The Communist Party saw this individualism and thirst for a national identity as a threat to the solidarity of the Union. It was believed that if given enough support, nationalistic sentiment would give rise to a movement for independence (Dean). Michael Hrushevs’kyi, a one time president of the Rada believed in a Ukraine “socialist in form, nationalistic in content (Armstrong, 16).” After serving his term in office, Hrushevs’kyi returned to the Ukraine. He formed the Ukraine along with scholarly colleagues, a group centered around the Ukrainian nation. They believed that the country was more adjoined politically and economically to Western Europe than the Soviet Union (Armstrong, 16).

 

Stalin saw enough support in this movement to justify the actions that he took. Stalin’s first order of business was to subdue the Ukraina. He then put on trial the scholars that were accused of belonging to the League for the Liberation of the Ukraine (Armstrong, 17) in the purge trials of the 1930’s (Armstrong, 18).

Since the Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in December of 1991, it has experienced some hard times. The country has had to open its boarders and establish the infrastructure necessary to support an open market. They have had to determine an effective economic reform plan to reacquire lost progress from the Soviet and Asian economic crises (Kyn: webpage). Their challenge in the coming years is to draw upon their solidarity as a nation and establish economic stability to forge new markets abroad to assure continued growth. With such a rich store of natural resources, the Ukrainians have the potential to overcome their present obstacles and establish themselves in the world market.

 

 

 

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