The area of the Ukraine represents the beginnings of the original Russian state, about twelve centuries ago. The Mongols invaded the area in the 13th and 14th centuries. At that point, control of the region was in Lithuanian and Polish hands. In 1654, Ukraine became part of the Russian empire though shortly thereafter it was partitioned between Poland and Russia. The part annexed by Poland later came under the influence of Austria as Poland itself was partitioned. After the Russian Revolution, the Ukraine made an attempt to establish its autonomy but it eventually became a Soviet republic. In 1921, the region was once again divided: the western portion of the country was given to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania and the eastern Ukraine became the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Stalin's attempts to force collectivism on the Ukraine in the 1930s, resulted in millions of deaths, chaos, and famine (as in other of the SSRs at the time). The Ukraine declared itself sovereign in 1990 and the Communist party was outlawed in 1991, leading to a declaration of total independence. In December of that year, Ukraine joined other former SSRs in the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Tensions with Russia since then have revolved around conflicts over nuclear warheads and other issues. The Ukrainian economy has yet to stabilize.

A peaceful mass protest referred to as the "Orange Revolution" in the closing months of 2004 forced the authorities to overturn a rigged presidential election and to allow a new internationally monitored vote that swept into power a reformist slate under Viktor YUSHCHENKO. Subsequent internal squabbles in the YUSHCHENKO camp allowed his rival Viktor YANUKOVYCH to stage a comeback in parliamentary (Rada) elections, become prime minister in August 2006, and be elected president in February 2010. In October 2012, Ukraine held Rada elections, widely criticized by Western observers as flawed due to use of government resources to favor ruling party candidates, interference with media access, and harassment of opposition candidates. President YANUKOVYCH's backtracking on a trade and cooperation agreement with the EU in November 2013 - in favor of closer economic ties with Russia - and subsequent use of force against students, civil society activists, and other civilians in favor of the agreement led to a three-month protest occupation of Kyiv's central square. The government's use of violence to break up the protest camp in February 2014 led to all out pitched battles, scores of deaths, international condemnation, a failed political deal, and the president's abrupt departure for Russia. New elections in the spring allowed pro-West president Petro POROSHENKO to assume office in June 2014; he was succeeded by Volodymyr ZELENSKY in May 2019.
Shortly after YANUKOVYCH's departure in late February 2014, Russian President PUTIN ordered the invasion of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula falsely claiming the action was to protect ethnic Russians living there. Two weeks later, a "referendum" was held regarding the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The "referendum" was condemned as illegitimate by the Ukrainian Government, the EU, the US, and the UN General Assembly (UNGA). In response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, 100 members of the UN passed UNGA resolution 68/262, rejecting the "referendum" as baseless and invalid and confirming the sovereignty, political independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In mid-2014, Russia began supplying proxies in two of Ukraine's eastern provinces with manpower, funding, and materiel driving an armed conflict with the Ukrainian Government that continues to this day. Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the unrecognized Russian proxy republics signed the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum in September 2014 to end the conflict. However, this agreement failed to stop the fighting or find a political solution. In a renewed attempt to alleviate ongoing clashes, leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany negotiated a follow-on Package of Measures in February 2015 to implement the Minsk agreements. Representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the unrecognized Russian proxy republics, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also meet regularly to facilitate implementation of the peace deal. More than 14,000 civilians have been killed or wounded as a result of the Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine.