In February 2014, a popular uprising against the Ukrainian government led to an armed conflict that created the most dangerous political situation in Europe since World War II. When Russia tried to stop Ukraine’s rapprochement with Western Europe, a new “cold war” began to take shape after 25 years of relative tension between the West and the East.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine wavered between maintaining close ties with the Russian leadership in Moscow and approaching Western Europe politically and economically.
In 2010, Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych was elected president after pro-Western leaders failed to solve the country’s economic problems. Despite opposition from Moscow, he negotiated a cooperation agreement with the EU. But when he interrupted the talks in late autumn 2013, and instead turned to Russia, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians went out in protests against economic mismanagement, corruption and lack of democracy.
After more than 100 people were shot dead in February 2014, the protests became so strong that Yanukovych fled to Russia. He was deposed by parliament and a new government was formed. The army and police changed sides.
According to ebizdir, nationalist elements in the revolution were perceived as a threat among Russian-speaking residents in the east and on the Crimean peninsula, not least due to strong propaganda in the state-controlled Russian media. After a Russian organized coup in Crimea, Russia annexed the peninsula.
In southeastern Ukraine, Russian-speaking militias declared “people’s republics” and demanded their incorporation into Russia. The militias took control of a large area, but after a while the army was about to defeat them, the militias received Russian help with a counter-offensive and conquered almost the entire southeastern part of the country.
Faced with the threat of continued Russian advance, the government was forced to agree to a ceasefire and promise far-reaching autonomy in the east. Real peace looked distant, but in the autumn of 2015 the situation became temporarily calmer after the Russian government instead began to try to save the regime in Syria.
Despite new international attempts in 2016 to stabilize the situation, fighting continues to flare up at regular intervals. In 2017, the conflict gained a new economic dimension after separatists began confiscating privately owned large companies and the Ukrainian state blocked freight traffic to the breakaway areas.
Charkiw [x-], Russian Charkow, regional capital in the northeast of Ukraine, on the southern edge of the Central Russian Heights, (2019) 1.4 million residents (mainly Russian-speaking).
Along with Kiev, Kharkiv is an important center of Ukrainian intellectual life with three universities (National University since 1805, Aerospace University, Technical University) and numerous other higher education institutions, the branch of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, numerous research institutes, publishers, libraries and six important ones Museums, planetarium, several theaters, conservatory, philharmonic, botanical and zoological garden. The city is one of the most important industrial, financial and transport centers of Ukraine. Mechanical engineering is dominant with the electronic and precision engineering industry (including medical device manufacturing), aircraft and heavy vehicle construction as well as plant and machine tool construction, as well as electrical and heavy machine construction, furthermore companies in the pharmaceutical, Light and food industry. The city has a subway (since 1975) and an international airport.
The oldest building is the monastery of the Protection of the Virgin Mary and Intercession with a domed church (1689), the baroque Church of the Assumption (1777, with a classicist bell tower from 1848) based on a design by B. F. Rastrelli and the early classicist palace of Catherine II (started in 1777, according to plans) are noteworthy by Rastrelli). From 1790, the city’s layout with markets, radial and tangential streets followed an overall state plan. Along the new streets there are numerous representative neo-classical and art nouveau buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Constructivist buildings include the Main Post Office (1927) and the House of Soviet Industry (1928). After the Second World War, in addition to reconstruction and new construction of public buildings (including the main train station, 1952; National University, 1955, Sports Palace, 1968), new residential areas were built according to a historical-radial scheme, often including monumental sculptures.
Kharkiv was founded by Cossacks around 1654/55 as a border fortress against the Crimean Tatars, and since 1765 it has been the provincial capital. In the first decades of the 19th century, Kharkiv was the center of the early Ukrainian national movement. 1917 and 1919–34 capital of (Soviet) Ukraine. During World War I, Kharkiv was occupied by German troops in 1918 and during World War II in October 1941 (recaptured by the Red Army on August 23, 1943).