1919: The Fall of the Ukrainian People’s Republic

Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk

The year 1919 started on a hopeful note for Ukrainians. The union of the two Ukrainian republics—the one established in the former Russian Empire and the other that emerged in the former Habsburg lands—was proclaimed during a solemn ceremony in January. The victorious Allies appeared interested in establishing contacts with the Ukrainian government. It seemed that independent Ukraine could succeed, just as Lithuania and Poland did. Yet, all was lost by the end of the year. The Entente preferred to support the White Russian army and Poland, both of which claimed the Ukrainian lands as theirs. An even more formidable threat came from Bolshevik Russia. The fledgling Ukrainian government lived on trains, often not controlling even nearby villages. In November the leaders of the two Ukrainian republics broke off relations and left for foreign capitals. Why did the republic fall and what legacy did it leave behind?