The Ukrainian State, or Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to the northeast, Romania to the southwest, Galicia-Lodomeria (part of Austria-Hungary) and Poland to the west along with White Ruthenia and Lithuania to the northwest. Under the autocratic rule of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, it is closely aligned with Germany as a critical part of Mitteleuropa and the Reichspact to which it provides vast quantities of grain.
Important notice: This page contains lore relevant to the upcoming Eastern Europe rework, and it may not reflect the current in-game setup that well. The ultimate goal, to eventually fully transpose the changes made to the lore in-game, still stands. This lore also may not be final, and some minor changes may occur.
Following centuries of rule under the Russian Empire, Ukraine became an autonomous region in 1917 and fully independent in early 1918, after the October Revolution. However, the newly proclaimed republic soon became endangered by Soviet encroachment to the North. In early February, Kyiv was sacked by the Bolsheviks.
Scared to lose their independence, the Ukrainians contacted the Germans, who occupied large swaths of Eastern Europe. As part of the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk, the Germans promised an intervention in Ukraine to expel the Bolsheviks - In return, the Ukrainians should provide the Germans with their valuable grain.
Between mid-February and early March of 1918, German and Austro-Hungarian troops started a large offensive on Narva, Smolensk and Kyiv and pushed the Bolsheviks out of the Baltics, most of Belarus and Ukraine, forcing them to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March. In Kyiv, the Ukrainian People's Republic was reinstated, but mostly dependent on the Central powers, who occupied the whole of the country up until Rostov-on-Don.
The Republic however soon turned out to be corrupt, inefficient and sluggishly governed. The Germans were angry, as the Ukrainian government was unable to supply them with the grain they were promised in the cooperation treaty. In addition, everything outside of Kyiv was practically free from government influence, which lead to Bolshevik agitation all over the country.
The Germans soon took notice of a man called Pavlo Skoropadsky. Skoropadsky had once fought for Tsarist Russia and had become a figurehead of the Ukrainian Nationalist Hetman movement. He was backed by the Ukrainian cossacks, the landowners, the farmers and even by Russians and Poles. When Skoropadsky turned to Germany and informed it of his planned coup to restore order to the country, it promised him neutrality as well as the blocking of all barracks, where government-loyal troops were residing.
On 29 April 1918, the All-Ukrainian Farmer's congress elected Skoropadsky "Hetman of Ukraine". The day of this coup saw the adoption of a new constitution and Skoropadsky’s assumption of the post of Commander in Chief of the military. Press censorship was instituted, a new supreme court was established, and all the reforms of the previous government were reversed. The Hetman became the highest law of the land.
After a failed attempt to unite the moderate parties of Ukraine, Skoropadsky drew up a new cabinet consisting primarily of loyalists and those that had defected. At first, this new government struggled to establish effective economic policies by itself. This would not be remedied until direct German economic assistance was approved by the Kaiser. While many initial social policies also failed, the new Ukrainian government quickly won international recognition as the legitimate government of the region. Many former Republican politicians, most prominently Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura, relocated to Austrian Galicia-Lodomeria and established a government in exile.
Following the capture of Kharkov in early 1919, the ever growing issue of Nestor Makhno's Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (RIAU) could no longer be ignored. Flush with German military equipment, and with the first wave of German trained recruits on the field, Skoropadsky announced an offensive to “rid the nation of anarchist terrorists.” Operations started off slow, with numerous raids on Ukrainian troops being made by Makhno himself. The goal of these raids were to capture German and Austrian supplied equipment such as artillery and machine guns. However, the raids only yielded moderate success, and when the Ukrainian Army offensive began on March 2nd of that year, the RIAU’s forces were beaten back. By 1920 the Black Army was reduced to a low level insurgency. Makhno fled to the newly established Commune of France before the last offensives took place.
With the Russian Civil War over and Makhno’s Black Army crushed, Ukraine began to settle in for a period of peace. But peace would not come so easily to the new nation. The policies of the newly named “Ukrainian State” caused civil unrest amongst the lower class. In the initial years of Skoropadsky’s regime, strikes in the fields and the factories were common. Ukraine in the early 1920s was little more than a massive agrarian state, producing a huge amount of food.
Despite the massive agricultural boom, industry in Ukraine still struggled. While some prospective German businessmen gladly built factories in cities such as Kyiv and Odessa, the majority of the nation remained stuck in a perpetual agrarian state. The majority of the nation worked as farmers, and those not lucky enough to own their own land worked the land of others. However, some industrious Germans have begun to write up even more ambitious plans for industrialization, plans many in Ukraine are eager to copy. By 1930, the Ukrainian State was producing enough food to feed Germany’s economic block. Ukraine supplies Mitteleuropa with millions of tons of wheat, barley, beets, and honey.
The culture bloomed as well. Multiple universities, archives, museums and institutions of the like were established across the nation.
However, the more Germany propped up the Hetman, his military, and his landowners; the more animosity was felt by the peasants and workers. Many began to once again support socialist politicians, such as the previously deposed Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura. The Republicans garnered a large powerbase from disgruntled individuals in Western Ukraine, where poverty was much more rampant. Petliura and his Social Democratic USDRP party promised land reform, democratic institutions, and an end to the German domination over the Ukrainian economy. However, in the eyes of the Hetmanate, he was little more than a peasant thug leading on bands of the vulnerable and poor to do his dirty work.
Those who did not turn to the moderate Republicans and their promises of democratic reform chose other paths to follow. Some supported the more radical preachings of Oleksander Shumsky and his Borotbists. Shumsky promised a peasant’s uprising to establish a socialist Ukraine, complete land redistribution, and expulsion of the German-aligned elite who ruled over Ukraine along with a raft of other progressive reforms to completely transform the Ukrainian nation. For now, however, Shumsky leads a low-scale guerrilla warfare campaign, one of the only opposition parties to still remain in Ukraine and not the neighbouring and more liberal Galicia.
Hetman of Ukraine: Pavlo Skoropadsky
Head of the Rada of Ministers: Dmytro Doroshenko
Foreign Minister: Serhii Shelukhyn
Economic Minister: Anton Rschepezky
Minister of the Interior: Ihor Kistyakovsky
Ukraine is dominated by what is essentially a quasi-military dictatorship bordering pseudo-monarchy, with Skoropadsky's ambitions for a hereditary rule with all the trappings of a European style monarchy an open secret. As Hetman of Ukraine, Pavlo Skoropadsky has assumed a number of prestigious roles. By law, Skoropadsky is the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, the cultural head of Ukraine, and Ukraine’s top legislator. While offically an elected position, Skoropadsky gets to enjoy the role of Hetman until either his resignation or death. While Ukrainian law allows for the impeachment of an elected Hetman, the sheer number of loyalists Skoropadsky has packed the courts and the Rada render that all but impossible.
The official party of Ukraine is the Soiuz Hetmantsiv Derzhavnykiv (SHD), or United Hetman Organization. The SHD was established by Skoropadsky shortly after his ascension to power and revolves around him entirely. Loyalty to the SHD and Skoropadsky is often rewarded handsomely and is taken into consideration in the military, courts, legislature, and even in business.
However, some dissent still lies in the SHD itself. Many believe the powers of the Hetman to be too absolute, and have begun to push for minor democratic reforms while still trying their best to toe the party line. While these SHD reformers would never try to challenge the rule of Skoropadsky himself, many wish to open up more local elections and lift restrictions on other political parties. These reformers are usually involved with either the Socialist-Federalist caucus or the Democratic Agrarian caucus. While both agree on initial reforms, they sharply veer away from each other alter on with the SFs taking a more liberal approach in line with their old party. The main outlier of the Reformists are the Agrarians-Statists, a pro-constitutional monarchy political clique within the party that mainly survives due to Danylo Skoropadsky's personal interest but lacks any real relevancy in the grand political machine and is marred by internal conflicts.
The third strongest economy in the Reichspakt, Ukraine has enjoyed a higher level of autonomy over her Eastern European neighbours. Considered the breadbasket of Mitteleuropa, Ukraine produces the majority of the alliances’ grain. Exported on ships built in its large shipyards, Ukraine also enjoys a profit from shipbuilding. These ships are destined both for her own export market, as well as others. Thanks to this flourishing export market, Ukraine has received a large amount of assistance from Germany to grow her economy, which remains strongly agrarian. However, the industry has begun to grow in major cities like Kyiv and Odessa, and plans to continue industrial expansion in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea have been drawn up.
Among the countries of the Reichspakt, Ukraine has largest army, after the German Reichsheer. Germany has spent a considerable amount of time meticulously grooming the Armed Forces of the Ukrainian State (Zbroyni Syly Ukrayinskoyi Derzhavy or ZSUD) with the goal of modernizing it. Following the establishment of the ZSUD, the German Empire has flooded the nation with German-made equipment. Rifles, trucks, and even German-produced tanks increasingly replaced the Russian and Austrian equipment originally used by the rag-tag forces of the ZSUD. Now, by the mid-1930s, Ukraine is producing its own rifles, trucks, and even tanks.
The Ukrainian Navy, stationed in Sevastopol, consist mainly of old and outdated Russian ships. It comprises one battleship, one heavy cruiser, three light cruisers, one destroyer and three submarines and finds itself mostly in coast guard duties so as not to break the gentleman's agreement with the Ottoman Empire guaranteeing it navel supremacy in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian Air Force was already established in 1917 by Kuban military officer Viktor Pavlenko, and Kiev had been home to various prototype plane manufacturers since the early 1900s. Currently, the Ukrainian Air Force consists of only one squadron of interceptors, but Skoropadsky has shown an interest in its expansion with the support of German aviation specialists.
Germany: On the world stage, the German-Ukrainian Alliance seems to be one of the strongest in the world. The two mingle in almost all affairs. Trade flows freely between the two, their militaries drill together often, and there is even a law in the Ukrainian Rada currently going around to declare “Ukrainian-German Friendship Day” to be a national holiday! However, behind the curtain, Skoropadsky is nothing more than a puppet of the Kaiser. A puppet with loose strings, but a puppet nonetheless.
Two camps exist in the mind of the Ukrainian peasantry. Some see Germany as the saviour of Ukraine; that without them, a Ukrainian state wouldn’t exist. The Entente would’ve rather Ukraine stay a subject of Russia, and the Bolsheviks were not to be trusted. However, another mindset in the nation is that Germany is simply another master to serve, and that Ukraine is not truly free.
Belarus: A common thread can be found between Ukraine and her northern neighbour. The two nations maintain friendly dispositions, with all the perks that come with such a relationship. Trade is active and people can travel between the two nations with ease. There are nonetheless worries that tensions could ignite over the contested town of Gomel and Ukrainian claims in the south.
Don-Kuban Union: Ukraine has many issues with her Don Cossack controlled neighbour. Both Ukrainian nationalists and certain factions in the Kuban Host have pushed for unification, a process Don Hetman Krasnov has prevented time and time again. Every perceived crime against the Kubans in the nation further rallies Ukraine to push Germany for an intervention to “protect the Kuban minority”, a request Germany often ignores.
Poland: As the two major Reichspakt nations in Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Poland have been stuck in a cycle of political one-upmanship for years, specifically over the future of Galicia. While this feud is not violent, it has caused many headaches for the German Empire. However, Ukraine and Poland have greater enemies to worry about and are more than willing to work together against them. Because of Poland's light industry and Ukraine's lack of it, the two often engage in mutually-beneficial economic projects in the border regions.
Lithuania: A frequent purchaser of Ukrainian crops, and another member of the Reichspakt alliance, Lithuania has kept good relations with Ukraine and has no contested land to bicker over.
Russian Republic: Since the end of the Weltkrieg, tensions have cooled between the Ukrainian State and the Russian Republic. However, many factions in the Russian Republic have the citizens of Ukraine very worried about the future and conflict is likely to arise.
Kingdom of Romania: While peace was maintained between the two nations, the issue of Bessarabia is still a hot button topic in both Ukraine and Romania. Both claim the territory, but due to the Treaty of Bucharest, Romania has de jure power over the region. At the moment, both nations have agreed to demilitarize the border, hopefully preventing any future conflict.
Ottoman Empire: There is very little conflict between Ukraine and the Ottoman Empire. While the London Straits Convention still stands, Ukraine is allowed to have its Navy in the Black Sea. However, if this fleet were to grow too large, it may begin to worry about the Ottomans. In addition, the Ottomans historically have been concerned for the status of Tatars in Crimea, but the Ukrainian State has given them little reason to worry. A gentleman's agreement currently exists between the two with the Ottoman's being guaranteed naval supremacy in exchange for maintaining safe conduct in the Black Sea.
Commune of France: Ukraine, as a member of the Reichspakt, shares an animosity of France with Germany, but this hatred is further deepened by their harbouring of Nestor Makhno, the “bandit leader of the Black Army”, currently wanted in Ukraine. Ukrainians are even further shocked to hear that Makhno is up for election in France, and the idea of him leading an entire nation deeply worries many.