Saturday, May 3, 2014

The ironies of history: "The" Ukraine

History is full of ironies.

Perhaps its latest trick on mankind is that a former KGB lieutenant colonel who laments the loss of the USSR, is now doing his best, as president of the Russian Federation, to destroy one of the Soviet Union's most memorable (regrettable?) geographical constructions, 20th-century "the" Ukraine.

See, for example, "Khrushchev’s transfer of Crimea to Ukraine was unconstitutional – Putin."

From Wikipedia:
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukrainian SSR;UkrainianУкраїнська Радянська Соціалістична Республіка, Українська РСРRussianУкраинская Советская Социалистическая Республика, Украинская ССРsee "Name" section below), commonly referred to as Ukraine or Soviet Ukraine, was a sovereign Soviet socialist state[6] and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union from its inception in 1922 to its breakup in 1991. For most of its existence, it was economically and politically the second-most powerful republic of the Soviet Union, behind only the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
The Ukrainian SSR was a founding member of the United Nations,[7]although it was legally represented by the All-Union state in its affairs with countries outside of the Soviet Union. Upon the Soviet Union's dissolution and perestroika, the Ukrainian SSR was transformed into the modern nation-state of Ukraine, although Ukraine's new constitution was only ratified on 28 June 1996.
Throughout its 72-year history, the republic's borders changed many times, with a significant portion of what is now Western Ukraine being annexed by Soviet forces in 1939 from the Republic of Poland, and the addition of formerly Russian Crimea in 1954. From the start, the eastern city of Kharkiv served as the republic's capital. However, in 1934, the seat of government was subsequently moved to the city of Kiev, which remained the capital of newly independent Ukraine.
Geographically, the Ukrainian SSR was situated in Eastern Europe to the north of the Black Sea, bordered by the Soviet republics of MoldovaBelarus, and Russia. The Ukrainian SSR's border with Czechoslovakia formed the Soviet Union's western-most border point. With the Soviet Census of 1989, the republic's population consisted of 51,706,746 inhabitants, although the population would fall sharply after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Image from, with caption: Flag of Ukrainian SSR in 1949 image by António Martins and Victor Lomantsov; see also.

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