by Matthew Clark
On February 24, 2022 Russian military forces invaded the nation of Ukraine in what (Russian) President Putin dubbed "A Special Military Operation." Although the first year of the conflict was a see saw affair the second year has gone decidedly in favour of Moscow's forces. Nearly all the territory in West Ukraine populated by a Russian speaking majority has been occuppied by the Putin administrations armed forces. Ukraine's military forces have suffered enormous casualties, which the Kiev (Ukrainian) government has had difficulty replacing. Foreign financial capital, so necessary for the survival of the Ukrainian nation, is starting to dry up, as other areas of the world (middle east) take priority over the East European struggle. In truth the Ukrainians are in dire straits, looking defeat in the eye. The $64 question appears to be ; "What happens to that country, and it's people, as they suffer military defeat in East/Central Europe amidst longer established nations?
An answer to this query might be provided through a review of what occurred to Ukraine in it's previous episode of independence!
Amidst the carnage of the First World War various political groups promoting independence for Ukraine took advantage of this rare oppurtunity to achieve their goal. Russia had fallen into Revolution, while the Austrians, Hungarians, and Germans were not far behind. Following the February 1917 Revolution in Russia political leaders in Eastern Ukraine issued the "Proclamation of the Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR). By November 1918 the ZUNR forces captured the city of Lviv, which put them into immediate conflict with Polish armed forces. This conflict would continue until the summer of 1919. In March of 1917 a Central Rada (Parliament)Council had set up another governing body in Kiev. This Rada declared independence during January of 1918. Ukraine now had two different political groups claiming to rule the state. This situation became further complicated when German troops disarmed the Rada forces in Kiev, which prompted another group, the All Ukrainian Agrarian Congress to appoint a Hetman (political leader) by the name of Pavlo Skoropadsky, to rule the nation. This mayhem ultimately resulted in a civil war raging throughout the spring and summer of 1918. In West Ukraine a government of West Ukraine National Republic was proclaimed in the fall of 1918. This entity was quickly overrun by troops of the newly established Soviet Union. Nevertheless the Soviet success was temporary as Polish armed forces in turn defeated the Soviet military. By now there was a general longing in the region for some sort of stability. A peace deal was eventually worked out between Poland and the Soviets (Peace of Riga, March 1921) which divided Ukraine and Belarus between the two atagonists. There was one exception within this arrangement. Transcarpathia, a territory in West Ukraine, was annexed by Czechoslovakia. Despite the fact thousands of Ukrainians had perished in a quest for political soverneignty, independence was a lost dream by 1923!
Ukrainians second stab at independence has lasted far longer than her first attempt. This effort commenced in 1991. Yet thirty three years later there is a chance that the contemporary state could well suffer the fate of her post WW1 predecessor.
Military conflict with Russia has resulted in a reduced population, a devastated infrastructure, and economic ruin. President (of Ukraine) Zelensky himself admits all government costs are being paid by foreign (mostly western) nations. With this funding being withdrawn there is a possibility of financial ruin for the Kiev regime. Combined with the physical destruction wrought by the war this could well result in Ukraine entering the status of failed state!
If such a situation was to occur what might possibly be the fate for the 'Borderland' realm?
It is not difficult to imagine that the Russians, after two years of bitter fighting, will occupy the western partof the nation, including Kiev. They will also seize the entire Black Sea Coastal area over to Moldava. Poland will take the occasion to establish her border as far east as possible. Thus all the parts of Ukraine with a substantial number of Polish speakers will transfer to a new motherland. Likewise will be the fate of those parts of Ukraine opposite Belarus, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and perhaps even Moldava. Ukraine will cease to exist!
Yet no worries. President Putin will have been taught a lesson (?), while NATO influence will be extended with the territorial expansion of Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia!
University of Toronto Library, exhibits.library.utoronto.ca