History of Ukraine - independent Ukraine

The formation of independent Ukraine

After the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced reforms of glasnost and perestroika into national policy in the late 1980s, Ukrainian nationalist feelings gradually awoke, leading the newly democratized Ukrainian parliament to declare Ukraine’s sovereignty in 1990.

In the wake of hardline Communists failed coup against Gorbachev, Ukrainian parliament declared Ukraine’s independence (August 1991), an act that was approved by Ukrainian populace in the referendum in December. As the Soviet Union collapsed that month, Ukrainian independence gained international recognition.

Leonid Kravchuk was elected the first president of Ukraine in December 1991. He had 62% of the vote as compared with his nearest challenger, Vyacheslav Chornovil, a former dissident, who gained 23%.

Ukraine joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991, but saw this loose organization as a transitory mechanism to resolve disputes. Economic, military, territorial, and political disputes caused tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

National flag of independent Ukraine

National flag of independent Ukraine