With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Where to now, Ukraine?

This interview with historian Stanislav Kulchytsky was published in the 19 November issue of The Ukrainian Week. It has been edited for clarity and style.

The uncertainty around the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU generated significant anxiety in Ukrainian political circles. What would happen if Brussels failed to come to an agreement with Kyiv? Would the door to fruitful cooperation with Ukraine’s western neighbors be closed? Would it open to Russian ambitions, by joining the Customs Union? 

UW: Quite a few researchers stand by the view that according to its social structure, as well as the logic of its economic and historic development, Ukraine is an authentic European country. Do you agree?

Stanislav Kulchytsky: Geographically, Ukraine is in Europe. Beginning with Arnold Toynbee and ending with Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky, not one historian has questioned the fact that it has an intermediary position between East and West. Over the centuries, our land has experienced political influence from both sides. Having said that, the eastern influence was caused by Ukraine becoming part of the Russian Empire, which actually emerged in the process of swallowing Ukraine.

The “reunification of Ukraine with Russia,” which was how the process was described at the celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1954, significantly increased the possibility of tsarism in further expansionist policy. But what did Ukraine gain from it? Not only isolation from Europe, a continent with the greatest historic progress in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but also the revival of serfdom. If, in the mid-seventeenth century peasants were freed from the oppression of Polish and Ukrainian landowners and most had become Cossacks, under the Russian Empire, they became serfs once more....

Read entire article at Transitions Online