Western Ukraine

Western Ukraine or West of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Західна Україна or Захід України Zakhidna Ukraina or Zakhid Ukrainy) is a geographical and historical relative term used in reference to the western territories of Ukraine, which had different historical circumstances from the rest of Ukraine. The form Ukrainian West is used, but rarely.

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

Western Ukraine, just like most of the contemporary territory of Ukraine, takes its roots from Kievan Rus', but after the weakening of Kievan Rus' and attacks from the Golden Horde, the cultural and political center moved from the capital city Kyiv to the western Ukrainian region of Halych. Consequently, in 1199 a new western Ukrainian state was formed, the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. 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 an Unification Act. Yet, ultimately Ukrainian independent state was divided again between Rzeczpospolita (i.e. Poland) and the Soviet Union. The Soviet part of Ukraine, named the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, had formal autonomy. 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.

The territory includes several historical regions such as Transcarpathia, Halychyna including Pokuttia (eastern portion of Eastern Galicia), most of Volhynia, northern Bukovina, and western Podolia. The main historical areas that the territory covers are Volhynia and Russia, today more known as Galicia or, locally, Halychyna. Russian cultural influence in the Ukrainian West is negligible. 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. Less often the Ukrainian West includes areas of eastern Volhynia, Podolia, and small portion of northern Bessarabia (eastern part of Chernivtsi Oblast). The city of Lviv is the main cultural center of the region and was the historical capital of the Kingdom of Rus. Other important cities are Buchach, Chernivtsi, Drohobych, Halych (hence - Halychyna), Ivano-Frankivsk, Khotyn, Lutsk, Mukachevo, Rivne, Ternopil, Uzhhorod and others. Strong association with the Rusyn or the Ruthenian nation in the region existed until the World War II, including Galician Rusyns and Carpathian Rusyns. The Ukrainian West is not an administrative category within Ukraine.

It is used mainly in the context of European history pertaining to the 20th-century wars and the ensuing period of annexations. Galicia (Eastern Europe) and the Carpathian Ruthenia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before its collapse after World War I. At the onset of World War II the part of Polish territory was incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (УРСР),[1][2][3][4] following elections held on October 22, 1939,[5] 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.[6]


"Moneta Rvssiє" coined in 1382 based on groschen

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.[7] 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.[8] Imperial Austria did not persecute Ukrainian organizations.[4] 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.[4]

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 Ukrainian–Soviet 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[9]

Western Ukraine includes such lands as Zakarpattia (Kárpátalja), Volyn, Halychyna (Prykarpattia, Pokuttia), Bukovyna, 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 historic divisionsEdit

Administrative region Area
(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)[11]

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.[4][12]

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.[13]

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[14][15] and on Joseph Stalin[16] and more "positive views"[clarification needed] on Ukrainian nationalism.[17] Calculating the yes-votes as a percentage of the total electorate reveals that a higher percentage of all (possible) voters in Western Ukraine supported Ukrainian independence in the 1991 Ukrainian independence referendum than in the rest of the country.[18][19]

Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) geographic 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.[20]

During elections voters of Western oblasts (provinces) vote mostly for parties (Our Ukraine, Batkivshchyna)[21] and presidential candidates (Viktor Yuschenko, Yulia Tymoshenko) with a pro-Western and state reform platform.[22][23][24] 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 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 United Centre, 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)[25]

  Eastern Orthodoxy (57.0%)
  Greek Catholicism (30.9%)
  Simply Christianity (4.3%)
  Protestantism (3.9%)
  Judaism (0.2%)
  Non believers (2.1%)
Percentage of Ukrainians in each oblasts (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.[25]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Jan T. Gross (2002). Western Ukraine. Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine. Princeton University Press. pp. 48 / 99 / 114. ISBN 0691096031. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d Serhy Yekelchyk Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation, Oxford University Press (2007), ISBN 978-0-19-530546-3
  5. ^ Alfred J. Rieber (2013). Forced Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1950. Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 978-1135274825. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Norman Davies (2005), "Part 2. Rossiya: The Russian Partition", God's Playground. A History of Poland, II: 1795 to the Present, Oxford University Press, pp. 60–82, ISBN 0199253404, retrieved January 27, 2014
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ a b Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: 1999, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 1857430581 (page 849)
  10. ^ Arne Bewersdorf. "Hans-Adolf Asbach. Eine Nachkriegskarriere" (PDF). Band 19 Essay 5 (in German). Demokratische Geschichte. pp. 1–42. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  11. ^ Viewpoint: Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov on the protests, BBC News (28 January 2014)
  12. ^ The Educational System of Ukraine, Nordic Recognition Network, April 2009.
  13. ^ Subtelny, Orest (2009). Ukraine: a history (4th ed.). Toronto [u.a.]: University of Toronto Press. pp. 214–219. ISBN 978-1-4426-9728-7.
  14. ^ The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
  15. ^ http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/poll-over-half-of-ukrainians-against-granting-official-status-to-russian-language-318212.html
  16. ^ (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)
  17. ^ Who’s Afraid of Ukrainian History? by Timothy D. Snyder, The New York Review of Books (21 September 2010)
  18. ^ Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith by Andrew Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0521574579 (page 128)
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ How relations between Ukraine and Russia should look like? Public opinion polls’ results, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (4 March 2014)
  21. ^ Центральна виборча комісія України - WWW відображення ІАС "Вибори народних депутатів України 2012"
    CEC substitues Tymoshenko, Lutsenko in voting papers
  22. ^ Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe by Uwe Backes and Patrick Moreau, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-36912-8 (page 396)
  23. ^ Ukraine right-wing politics: is the genie out of the bottle?, openDemocracy.net (3 January 2011)
  24. ^ 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 by Taras Kuzio, Oxford Analytica (5 October 2007)
  25. ^ a b РЕЛІГІЯ, ЦЕРКВА, СУСПІЛЬСТВО І ДЕРЖАВА: ДВА РОКИ ПІСЛЯ МАЙДАНУ (Religion, Church, Society and State: Two Years after Maidan), 2016 report by Razumkov Center in collaboration with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. pp. 27-29.

External linksEdit