Ukraine’s independence has been represented for 30 years as if it was not the decision of Soviet officials but the result of a long, armed struggle. This month, Dmitriy Kovalevich offers NewColdWar’s readers his exclusive analysis of the ongoing contradictions facing the country as it celebrate’s thirty years of so-called independence.
By Dmitriy Kovalevich
Published on NCW,
Aug 30, 2021
In August 2021, Ukraine pompously celebrated its thirtieth anniversary of independence. Paradoxically, in this case, independence is marked by the state, which until 1991 had its own place in the UN (apart from Russia) and was headed after 1991 by the same person who headed the country before—Leonid Kravchuk. Independence has been represented for 30 years as if it was not the decision of Soviet officials but the result of a long, armed struggle.
Manipulated from rich to poor
In March 1991, the majority of Ukrainians (81%) voted for keeping Ukraine within the USSR on the basis of a declaration of sovereignty.  In December of the same year, a second referendum was held, at which the question was changed: do you support the declaration of sovereignty adopted by the parliament of Ukraine? The majority also answered in the affirmative. In the course of the second referendum, Ukrainians were somewhat manipulated: they were told that nothing in their lives would change. Ukraine was previously a formally independent state with its own place in the UN, and instead of the USSR there would now be another union – the CIS – just a change of abbreviation, as the authorities of Soviet Ukraine said at the time. Thus, in 1991, many were misled by the manipulation of the terms, “independence”, “sovereignty” and “union”. Formally, Ukraine is still a member of the CIS along with Russia, although it has turned out to be a totally dead and non-functioning union.
The result was, however, according to the UN, the transformation of Ukraine from one of the richest republics of the USSR into the poorest country on the European continent. During the same 30-year period (1922 – 1952), the Soviet Union, under sanctions and surviving the devastating World War II from which it emerged victorious, became a world superpower and independently carried out industrialization.
Over the same period, Ukraine has lost a significant part of its population, together with most of its industry and trade potential.
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