Western Ukraine

Western Ukraine or West Ukraine (Ukrainian: Західна Україна, romanizedZakhidna Ukraina or Захід України, Zakhid Ukrainy) is the territory of Ukraine linked to the former Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, which was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrian Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Second Polish Republic, and came fully under the control of the Soviet Union (via the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) only in 1939, following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. There is no universally accepted definition of the territory's boundaries (see the map, right), but the contemporary Ukrainian administrative regions or Oblasts of Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankovsk, Lviv, Ternopil and Transcarpathia (which were part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) are nearly always included and the Lutsk and Rivne Oblasts (parts of the annexed from Poland during its Third Partition) are usually included. It is less common to include the Khmelnytski and, especially, the Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr Oblasts in this category. It includes several historical regions such as Transcarpathia, Halychyna including Pokuttia (eastern portion of Eastern Galicia), most of Volhynia, northern Bukovina, and western Podolia. Less often the Western Ukraine includes areas of eastern Volhynia, Podolia, and small portion of northern Bessarabia (eastern part of Chernivtsi Oblast).

Western Ukraine
Western Ukr.png
Several oblasts can be referred to as "Western Ukraine" today:
  Red – always included
  Brown – often included
  Orange – sometimes included
 • Coordinates49°54′36″N 27°07′48″E / 49.9100°N 27.1300°E / 49.9100; 27.1300Coordinates: 49°54′36″N 27°07′48″E / 49.9100°N 27.1300°E / 49.9100; 27.1300
Alex K Halych-Volhynia general.png
Map of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia in the 13th/14th century.
Old Town of Lviv, the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia[1] from 1272 to 1349 and nowadays, the most populated city of Western Ukraine
Old city and Catholic churches in Uzhhorod, showing the influence of Western Christianity on Western Ukraine
Fortress of Kamianets, a former Ruthenian-Lithuanian[2] castle and a later three-part Polish fortress[3][4][5]

Western Ukraine is known for its exceptional natural and cultural heritage, several sites of which are on the List of World Heritage. Architecturally, it includes the fortress of Kamianets, the Old Town of Lviv, the former Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, the Tserkvas, the Khotyn Fortress and the Pochayiv Lavra. Its landscapes and natural sites also represent a major tourist asset for the region, combining the mountain landscapes of the Ukrainian Carpathians and those of the Podolian Upland. These include Mount Hoverla, the highest point in Ukraine, Optymistychna Cave, the largest in Europe with its 240 km, Bukovel Ski Resort, Synevyr National Park, Carpathian National Park or the Uzhanskyi National Nature Park protecting part of the primary forests included in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve (World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO[6]).

Western Ukraine, takes its roots from the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, a successor of Kievan Rus' formed in 1199 after the weakening of Kievan Rus' and attacks from the Golden Horde. As of 1349, both Kievan Rus' and Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia lost their independence and Ukrainian territories fell under the control of neighboring states. Firstly Ukraine was incorporated into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and later Ukraine was divided between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (western and part of central Ukraine) and the Russian Empire (eastern and the remainder of central Ukraine). After the Partitions of Poland, western Ukrainian regions became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while central and eastern Ukrainian regions were still under Russian control. In 1918, after World War I, Ukrainian territories that had been under Russian control proclaimed independence as the Ukrainian People's Republic, while western Ukrainian territories that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire proclaimed their independence as the West Ukrainian People's Republic. On January 22, 1919, both states signed the Unification Act but were divided again between Poland and the Soviet Union. Later, as a result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union incorporated western Ukraine into the Ukrainian SSR. Not until the 1991 Declaration of Independence of Ukraine did Ukraine gain its independence; the Dissolution of the Soviet Union followed soon afterward. Nowadays, Russian cultural influence in the Ukrainian West is negligible. Indeed, Moscow only obtained control over the territory in the 20th century, namely, during World War II when it was annexed to the Soviet Union following the partitioning of Poland[7][8][9][10][11] and the Carpathian Ruthenia (today Zakarpattia) after World War II. Its historical background makes Western Ukraine uniquely different from the rest of the country, and contributes to its distinctive character today.[12]

The city of Lviv is the main cultural center of the region and was the historical capital of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. Other important cities are Buchach, Chernivtsi, Drohobych, Halych (hence, Halychyna), Ivano-Frankivsk, Khotyn, Lutsk, Kolomyia, Mukachevo, Rivne, Ternopil and Uzhhorod.


"Moneta Rvssiє" coined in 1382 based on groschen

Western Ukraine, takes its roots from the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, a successor of Kievan Rus' formed in 1199 after the weakening of Kievan Rus' and attacks from the Golden Horde.

Following the 14th century Galicia–Volhynia Wars, most of the region was transferred to the Crown of Poland under Casimir the Great, who received the lands legally by a downward agreement in 1340 after his nephew's death, Bolesław-Jerzy II. The eastern Volhynia and most of Podolia was added to the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Lubart.

The territory of Bukovina was part of Moldavia since its formation by voivode Dragoș, who was departed by the Kingdom of Hungary, during the 14th century.

After the 18th century partitions of Poland (Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth), the territory was split between the Habsburg monarchy and the Russian Empire. The modern south-western part of Western Ukraine became the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, after 1804 crownland of the Austrian Empire. Its northern flank with the cities of Lutsk and Rivne was acquired in 1795 by Imperial Russia following the third and final partition of Poland. Throughout its existence Russian Poland was marred with violence and intimidation, beginning with the 1794 massacres, imperial land-theft and the deportations of the November and January Uprisings.[13] By contrast, the Austrian Partition with its Sejm of the Land in the cities of Lviv and Stanyslaviv (Ivano-Frankivsk) was freer politically perhaps because it had a lot less to offer economically.[14] Imperial Austria did not persecute Ukrainian organizations.[10] In later years, Austria-Hungary de facto encouraged the existence of Ukrainian political organizations in order to counterbalance the influence of Polish culture in Galicia. The southern half of West Ukraine remained under Austrian administration until the collapse of the House of Habsburg at the end of World War One in 1918.[10]

In 1775, following the Russo-Turkish Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, Moldavia lost to the Habsburg monarchy its northwestern part, which became known as Bukovina, and remained under Austrian administration until 1918.

Interbellum and World War IIEdit

Following the defeat of Ukrainian People's Republic (1918) in the Soviet–Ukrainian War of 1921, Western Ukraine was partitioned by the Treaty of Riga between Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Soviet Russia acting on behalf of the Soviet Belarus and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic with capital in Kharkiv. The Soviet Union gained control over the entire territory of the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic east of the border with Poland.[15] In the Interbellum most of the territory of today's Western Ukraine belonged to the Second Polish Republic. Territories such as Bukovina and Carpatho-Ukraine belonged to Romania and Czechoslovakia, respectively.

At the onset of Operation Barbarossa by Nazi Germany, the region became occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941. The southern half of West Ukraine was incorporated into the semi-colonial Distrikt Galizien (District of Galicia) created on August 1, 1941 (Document No. 1997-PS of July 17, 1941 by Adolf Hitler) with headquarters in Chełm Lubelski, bordering district of General Government to the west. Its northern part (Volhynia) was assigned to the Reichskommissariat Ukraine formed in September 1941. Notably, the District of Galicia was a separate administrative unit from the actual Reichskommissariat Ukraine with capital in Rivne. They were not connected with each other politically for Nazi Germans.[16] The division was administrative and conditional, in his book "From Putyvl to the Carpathian" Sydir Kovpak never mentioned about any border-like divisions. Bukovina was controlled by the pro-Nazi Kingdom of Romania.


After the defeat of Germany in World War II, in May 1945 the Soviet Union incorporated all territories of current Western Ukraine into the Ukrainian SSR.[15] Between 1944 and 1946, a population exchange between Poland and Soviet Ukraine occurred in which all ethnic Poles and Jews who had Polish citizenship before September 17, 1939 (date of the Soviet Invasion of Poland) were transferred to post-war Poland and all ethnic Ukrainians to the Ukrainian SSR, in accordance with the resolutions of the Yalta and Tehran conferences and the plans about the new Poland–Ukraine border.[17]

Recent historyEdit

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia attacked Ukrainian military facility near the city of Lviv,[18] in Western Ukraine with cruise missiles. Later in March Russia performed missile attacks on oil depots in Lviv,[19] Dubno[20][21] and Lutsk.[22]


Western Ukraine includes such lands as Zakarpattia, Volyn, Halychyna (Prykarpattia, Pokuttia), Bukovina, Polissia, and Podillia. Note that sometimes Khmelnytsky region is considered a part of the central Ukraine as it is mostly lies within the western Podillya.

The history of Western Ukraine is closely associated with the history of the following lands:

Administrative and historical divisionsEdit

Administrative region Area Population
(2001 Census)
(Jan 2012)
Chernivtsi Oblast 8,097 922,817
Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast 13,927 1,409,760 1,380,128
Khmelnytskyi Oblast 20,629 1,430,775 1,320,171
Lviv Oblast 21,831 2,626,543 2,540,938
Rivne Oblast 20,051 1,173,304 1,154,256
Ternopil Oblast 13,824 1,142,416 1,080,431
Volyn Oblast 20,144 1,060,694 1,038,598
Zakarpattia Oblast 12,753 1,258,264 1,250,759
Total 131,256 10,101,756 9,765,281

Cultural characteristicsEdit

Differences with rest of UkraineEdit

"Perhaps, if Ukraine did not have its western regions, with Lviv at the centre, it would be easy to turn the country into another Belarus. But Galichina (Halychyna) and Bukovina, which became part of Soviet Ukraine under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, brought to the country a rebellious and free spirit."

Andrey Kurkov in an opinion piece about Euromaidan on BBC News Online (28 January 2014)[23]

Ukrainian is the dominant language in the region. Back in the schools of the Ukrainian SSR learning Russian was mandatory; currently, in modern Ukraine, in schools with Ukrainian as the language of instruction, classes in Russian and in other minority languages are offered.[10][24]

In terms of religion, the majority of adherents share the Byzantine Rite of Christianity as in the rest of Ukraine, but due to the region escaping the 1920s and 1930s Soviet persecution, a notably greater church adherence and belief in religion's role in society is present. Due to the complex post-independence religious confrontation of several church groups and their adherents, the historical influence played a key role in shaping the present loyalty of Western Ukraine's faithful. In Galician provinces, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has the strongest following in the country, and the largest share of property and faithful. In the remaining regions: Volhynia, Bukovina and Transcarpathia the Orthodoxy is prevalent. Outside of Western Ukraine the greatest in terms of Church property, clergy, and according to some estimates, faithful, is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). In the listed regions (and in particular among the Orthodox faithful in Galicia), this position is notably weaker, as the main rivals, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, have a far greater influence. Within the lands of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest Eastern Catholic Church, priests' children often became priests and married within their social group, establishing a tightly-knit hereditary caste.[25]

Noticeable cultural differences in the region (compared with the rest of Ukraine especially Southern Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine) are more "negative views"[clarification needed] on the Russian language[26][27] and on Joseph Stalin[28] and more "positive views"[clarification needed] on Ukrainian nationalism.[29] A higher percentage of voters in Western Ukraine supported Ukrainian independence in the 1991 Ukrainian independence referendum than in the rest of the country.[30][31]

Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) geographical division of Ukraine used in their polls.

In a poll conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in the first half of February 2014 0.7% of polled in West Ukraine believed "Ukraine and Russia must unite into a single state", nationwide this percentage was 12.5, this study didn't include polls in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.[32]

During elections voters of Western oblasts (provinces) vote mostly for parties (Our Ukraine, Batkivshchyna)[33] and presidential candidates (Viktor Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko) with a pro-Western and state reform platform.[34][35][36] Of the regions of Western Ukraine, Galicia tends to be the most pro-Western and pro-nationalist area. Volhynia's politics are similar, though not as nationalist or as pro-Western as Galicia's. Bukovina-Chernvisti's electoral politics are more mixed and tempered by the region's significant Romanian minority. Finally, Zakarpattia's electoral politics tend to be more competitive, similar to a Central Ukrainian oblast. This is due to the region's distinct historical and cultural identity as well as the significant Hungarian and Romanian minorities. The politics in the region dominated by such Ukrainian parties as Andriy Baloha's Team, Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united), pro-Russian separatist movement Podkarpathian Rusyns led by the Russian Orthodox Church bishop Dimitry Sydor and pro-Hungarian Democratic Party.



Religion in western Ukraine (2016)[37]

  Eastern Orthodoxy (57.0%)
  Greek Catholicism (30.9%)
  Unspecified Christianity (4.3%)
  Protestantism (3.9%)
  Judaism (0.2%)
  Non-believers (2.1%)
Percentage of Ukrainians in each oblast (2001 census)

According to a 2016 survey of religion in Ukraine held by the Razumkov Center, approximately 93% of the population of western Ukraine declared to be believers, while 0.9% declared to non-believers, and 0.2% declared to atheists.

Of the total population, 97.7% declared to be Christians (57.0% Eastern Orthodox, 30.9% members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 4.3% simply Christians, 3.9% members of various Protestant churches, and 1.6% Latin Rite Catholics), by far more than in all other regions of Ukraine, while 0.2% were Jews. Non-believers and other believers not identifying with any of the listed major religious institutions constituted about 2.1% of the population.[37]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Perfecky, George A. (1973). The Galician-Volynian Chronicle. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag. OCLC 902306
  2. ^ "Kam'ianets-Podilskyi historical". kampod.name (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 2011-04-30. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  3. ^ Bochenek 1980, p. 93.
  4. ^ Welcome to Ukraine: About Kamianets-Podilskyi Archived 2013-05-13 at the Wayback Machine MIBS Travel
  5. ^ A trip to historic Kamianets-Podilskyi: crossroads of many cultures, Roman Woronowycz, Kyiv Press Bureau.
  6. ^ UNESCO: Carpathian, July 2011
  7. ^ Jan T. Gross (2002). Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine. Princeton University Press. pp. 48 / 99 / 114. ISBN 0691096031. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Myron Weiner, Sharon Stanton Russell (June 1, 2001). Western Ukraine. Demography and National Security. Berghahn Books. pp. 313 / 322. ISBN 157181339X. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  9. ^ Philipp Ther, Ana Siljak (2001). Forced Migration from Poland's Former Eastern Territories. Redrawing Nations. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 136–. ISBN 0742510948. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d Serhy Yekelchyk Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation, Oxford University Press (2007), ISBN 978-0-19-530546-3
  11. ^ Alfred J. Rieber (2013). Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1950. Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 978-1135274825. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  12. ^ Rudolph Joseph Rummel (1996). Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocides and Mass Murders Since 1917 (Google Books preview). Transaction Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 1412827507. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  13. ^ Norman Davies (2005), "Part 2. Rossiya: The Russian Partition", God's Playground. A History of Poland, vol. II: 1795 to the Present, Oxford University Press, pp. 60–82, ISBN 0199253404, retrieved January 27, 2014
  14. ^ David Crowley (1992), National Style and Nation-state: Design in Poland from the Vernacular Revival to the International Style (Google Print), Manchester University Press ND, 1992, p. 12, ISBN 0-7190-3727-1
  15. ^ a b Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: 1999, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 1857430581 (page 849)
  16. ^ Arne Bewersdorf. "Hans-Adolf Asbach. Eine Nachkriegskarriere" (PDF). Band 19 Essay 5 (in German). Demokratische Geschichte. pp. 1–42. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  17. ^ "Переселение белорусов из Польши и Полесская область (1944-1947 гг.)"
  18. ^ "Russia strikes Ukraine army base near Poland as it widens attacks". Aljazeera News Agency. 14 March 2022. [1]
  19. ^ "The Lviv oil depot was completely destroyed by a Russian missile - the Regional State Administration". Ukrayinska Pravda. 27 March 2022.[2]
  20. ^ "Rivne Administration: Oil depot in Dubno razed to the ground after missile strike". Ukrayinska Pravda. March 27, 2022.[3]
  21. ^ "Russian rocket hits an oil depot in the Rivne region". Ukrayinska Pravda. March 28, 2022.[4]
  22. ^ "Lutsk missile strike: Head of Volyn region shares details". Ukrayinska Pravda. March 28, 2022.[5]
  23. ^ Viewpoint: Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov on the protests, BBC News (28 January 2014)
  24. ^ The Educational System of Ukraine Archived 2020-07-12 at the Wayback Machine, Nordic Recognition Network, April 2009.
  25. ^ Subtelny, Orest (2009). Ukraine: a history (4th ed.). Toronto [u.a.]: University of Toronto Press. pp. 214–219. ISBN 978-1-4426-9728-7.
  26. ^ The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
  27. ^ "Poll: Over half of Ukrainians against granting official status to Russian language - Dec. 27, 2012". 27 December 2012.
  28. ^ (in Ukrainian) Ставлення населення України до постаті Йосипа Сталіна Attitude population Ukraine to the figure of Joseph Stalin, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (1 March 2013)
  29. ^ Who’s Afraid of Ukrainian History? by Timothy D. Snyder, The New York Review of Books (21 September 2010)
  30. ^ Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521574579 (page 128)
  31. ^ Ivan Katchanovski. (2009). Terrorists or National Heroes? Politics of the OUN and the UPA in Ukraine Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Political Science Association, Montreal, June 1–3, 2010
  32. ^ How relations between Ukraine and Russia should look like? Public opinion polls’ results, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (4 March 2014)
  33. ^ Центральна виборча комісія України - WWW відображення ІАС "Вибори народних депутатів України 2012" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine
    CEC substitues Tymoshenko, Lutsenko in voting papers
  34. ^ Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe by Uwe Backes and Patrick Moreau, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 (page 396)
  35. ^ Ukraine right-wing politics: is the genie out of the bottle?, openDemocracy.net (3 January 2011)
  36. ^ Eight Reasons Why Ukraine’s Party of Regions Will Win the 2012 Elections by Taras Kuzio, The Jamestown Foundation (17 October 2012)
    UKRAINE: Yushchenko needs Tymoshenko as ally again Archived 2013-05-15 at the Wayback Machine by Taras Kuzio, Oxford Analytica (5 October 2007)
  37. ^ a b РЕЛІГІЯ, ЦЕРКВА, СУСПІЛЬСТВО І ДЕРЖАВА: ДВА РОКИ ПІСЛЯ МАЙДАНУ (Religion, Church, Society and State: Two Years after Maidan) Archived 2017-04-22 at the Wayback Machine, 2016 report by Razumkov Center in collaboration with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. pp. 27-29.

External linksEdit