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ndependence is something that millions have died for and is what people are still fighting for today. Many countries within the Soviet Union didn’t quite agree with the communist regime and this is mainly because they weren’t treated fairly. Ukraine wanted independence for a long time and with the fall of the Soviet Union, they managed that.

The collapse of the Soviet Union

Perestroika (restructuring in Russian) is a political model that President Mikhail Gorbachev integrated in the hopes that it will improve the economy of the country. The sudden implementation of reforms brought by Perestroika as well as the economical instability caused by the huge influx of investment within the military to support Cold War efforts brought an end to the Soviet Union.

Ukrainians demonstrate in front of the Communist Party’s Central Committee headquarters in Kyiv on August 25, 1991. (Source: Anatoly Sapronekov)

The abrupt fall of the Soviet Union took place on the 18th of August 1991 with a strong revolution that put an end to the heart of communism, at least at a political level. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was expected for some years coming, due to the political and economical instability within the nation. The poor efforts of Presidents and the westernization of the Soviet Union in the 1980s made it only a matter of time before a revolution took place.

Independent Ukraine

Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991, when the communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws implied by the Soviet Union. Ukraine urged to become independent for many years as the Soviet laws didn’t allow for any economical growth. Russia always took advantage of the country’s natural resources and workforce.

Before the Soviet Union, Ukraine had its own anthem, just like many other former Soviet countries. These, besides many other cultural etiquettes which had been prohibited during the Soviet era. Once they obtained their independence they also got back their state symbols and national anthem of the post-World War I Ukrainian National Republic.

Ukrainians waving their national flag rally for independence in Kyiv in September 1991, during the dying days of the Soviet Union. (Source: Associated Press)

Based on the political bureaucracy of democracy, a referendum had to be done, despite knowing that most people wanted independence for years. The referendum took place on December 1st, 1991 and 84% of eligible voters actually took a vote. The results showed that 90% of those who voted endorsed independence. At a similar time, a new democratic president was chosen to run Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk who turned out to not be the best choice.

August 24, 1991. Kyiv, Ukraine. People cheering and lifting in the air Levko Lukyanenko, one of the authors of the Declaration and fearless fighter for Independence of Ukraine, right after proclaiming of Independence. (Source: BBC)

Kravchuk had some really big shoes to fill based on the promises he made in his manifesto. With an independent country, there were no sanctions or restrictions for trading with Western countries or even becoming part of the European Union. Poor political decisions from the parliament which was in power at the time didn’t really make good relations with Ukraine. This created a butterfly effect where due to the high expectations for change from the population, the economy collapsed.

30 Years of Independence

Although Ukraine has been independent for 30 years, not much from a structural point of view has changed in previous years. The Soviet style can still be felt within the country and many of the Soviet cultures that have been indoctrinated over the reign of the Soviet Union are still felt. Besides Russia, Ukraine was considered the most important country within the Soviet Union, which is why so much had been invested in its architecture and technology. A great example of this would be Chornobyl despite its tragic fate.

The political corruption which is present in most Eastern European countries had slowed down the development of the country. Out of all the former Soviet countries, Ukraine had the best chance at achieving economic prosperity

Ukraine preparing for a Russian offensive at the border (Source: UNIAN)

What Russia always saw in Ukraine is a geographical position of acting upon their counterparts (NATO). As well as the hate that Ukraine never gave back Russia all of its nuclear weapons once Ukraine got independence. Political power has always been the causation of most modern European conflicts and sadly in this case Ukraine is in the middle. We can blame the big bully in the corner pushing smaller countries around or Europe for not having the courage to face the bully, but since Ukraine got its independence it was doomed to this.

Despite all this, Ukrainians seem to fight just like in 1991, despite their odds they never stopped fighting.

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