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UKRAINE IN WORLD WAR I Before the First World War broke out Ukraine didn’t exist as a nation. It was divided betweenthe territories occupied by the Russian and Austro-Hungary empires. The First World War played a critical role in the fight for Ukraine’s independence. Ukraine emerged as a fully independent nation late in the 20th century. During the war Ukraine fought for two fronts: the allied and central powers.
Ukrainian Involvement in WW I
World War one broke out in 1914 and lasted till 1918 and was centered in the continent of Europe. The war was caused by conflicts which arose from geographical boundaries disputes, political and economic tensions. It assembled all the economic superpowers from all around the world. These superpowers were divided into two opposing war fronts namely; allied (U.K., France, Russia, USA, Italy and Japan) and central powers (Bulgaria, Germany and Austria-Hungary). (Tucker 2002) During the Great War Ukrainians found themselves in two opposing war fronts (the allied and central powers alliances) because Ukraine had not yet gained independence and was divided between the territories occupied by the Russian and Austro-Hungary empires. Russia and Austria- Hungary were on two opposing alliances so divided loyalties resulted in Ukrainians killing each other in battlefields. The Russian empire controlled the eastern and central parts of the Ukrainian territories so approximately three million, five hundred thousand Ukrainian conscripts were compelled to join the Russian army in the war whereas two hundred and fifty thousand conscripts who were under the rule of Austro-Hungary in the western territories fought for the Austria belligerent side. The central powers used the western Ukrainian border governed by Austro-Hungary as a war front and the Russians claimed victory there. (O’Mara 2013)
Post World War One Ukraine
Ukraine couldn’t have probably become an independent nation had the Great War not occurred. During the war Ukrainians fought for autonomy and demanded for independence from Russia and Austria-Hungary which were in the middle of hostilities. The Russian empire was on the verge of collapse as a result of the two revolutions in Russia in 1917. (McCauley 1975)The formation of the provisional government in Russia saw the end of the tsarist regime of terror. Representative parties such as the Central Rada (which considered itself the highest legitimate organization in Ukraine) were established with the main aim of liberating Ukraine. The Central Rada under the leadership of Mykhaylo Hrushevsky declared Ukraine’s territorial autonomy within Russia.
When the provisional government in Russia was unconstitutionally overthrown by the Bolshevik in 1917 there was a stalemate because the Central Rada failed to recognize the Bolshevik as the governing authority in Ukraine. This caused relations between Russia and Ukraine to deteriorate. Finally the Central Rada formed the People’s Soviet Republic of Ukraine and as a result the Red Army (Bolshevik) launched an offence on Ukraine. The Central Rada retaliated by enlisting the help of the central powers (Germany) who helped them defeat and chase the Bolshevik from Ukrainian territory.
However, Ukraine’s independence was short lived because it was marred by anarchy and infighting among the inhabitants. This is because the international community was not keen on offering its support. No sooner had Ukraine gained independence than its government fell to the German regime through a coup de tat. The Germans established a conservative government and appointed a leader who was to act as their puppet. This caused opposition and rebellion which resulted in the formation of the Directory government. The anarchy, violence and pogroms of 1919 contributed to the fall of the opposition government. (Caldararo, 2014) Ukraine was divided into the western and eastern states. Eventually the Ukrainian revolution failed because it was up against multiple enemies. Ukraine later regained its independence in 1991 through a referendum after the Soviet Union collapsed. The modern day Ukraine has also been marred by anarchy, infightings, rebellions and conflicts with Russia such as the fight over Crimea, Russia’s support to Ukrainian rebels and so forth. The bad blood between Ukraine and Russia which can be traced back to ww1has indicated no signs of ceasefire. Russia will always be a powerful player in Ukraine. This is because Ukraine has constantly accused Russian troops of participating directly in the conflict between rebels and the government, a fact that was proven by NATO. (Karasek 2014) The Russification of Ukraine which is a post ww1 evil will always hamper progress and development because it makes Ukraine a slave to Russia. (Caldararo, 2014)
In conclusion, the fact that Ukrainian nationals found themselves fighting in two opposing war fronts meant that they were forced to turn against and kill each because of divided loyalties. This implies that Ukraine will always be a divided nation and this will make it an easy prey to countries like Russia who will always mask their motives of expanding their territories.
Caldararo, Niccolo Leo. “Ukraine neither a state nor a country.” Available at SSRN 24311943. Web, 2014.
Karasek, Tomas. “NATO and Russia after Crimea: from failed socialization to renewed containment. Web March 2014.
McCauley, Martin. The Russian revolution and the soviet state 1917-1921: documents. Macmillan. 1975. Print
O’Mara, Neil Michael. Over 100 facts WW1. Andrews UK Limited. Print.
Tucker, Spencer. The great war, 1914-1918.routledge, 2002.Print.