Ethnic Groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, and other 1.8% (2001 est.)
Unemployment: 8.9% (2019 est.)
Prior to the 20th century, Ukrainian territories were controlled at different times by Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Mongols, Cossacks and others.
From the 18th to 20th centuries, Russia and the Soviet Union carried out a program of Russification to discourage Ukrainian national identity.
1920s – Ukraine becomes part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
1932-1933 – Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s policy of collectivization leads to the Great Famine (Holodomor) in which millions of Ukrainians die of starvation.
1944 – The Soviet Union regains control of Ukraine and expands its borders to include territory taken from Romania, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
July 16, 1990 – Ukraine declares sovereignty.
August 24, 1991 – Parliament declares independence, pending a referendum on December 1.
December 1, 1991 – The referendum for independence passes with 90% approval.
December 8, 1991 – Ukraine joins the new Commonwealth of Independent States, along with Russia and Belarus.
September 2004 – Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko develops a mysterious illness which leaves his face pock-marked. Medical tests later show he is suffering from dioxin poisoning.
October 31, 2004 – In the first round of presidential elections, Yanukovych and Yushchenko both receive about 40% of the vote.
November 21, 2004 – Preliminary exit polls from the run-off election give Yushchenko a lead of 52% to Yanukovych’s 43%, but Yanukovych is officially declared the winner. Independent election monitors allege fraud.
November 22, 2004 – Mass protests sweep the country, with demonstrators wearing orange, Yushchenko’s campaign color. Activist Yulia Tymoshenko becomes a prominent figure of the pro-Western Orange Revolution.
December 3, 2004 – The Supreme Court rules the previous run-off election invalid and orders a new run-off.
December 26, 2004 – Yushchenko wins the election with about 52% of the vote and is sworn in as president a month later.
January 2005 – Yushchenko names Tymoshenko as prime minister.
September 2005 – Yushchenko fires his entire cabinet, including Tymoshenko.
December 18, 2007 – Tymoshenko returns as prime minister.
January 2009 – Gazprom again cuts off supplies of natural gas to Ukraine over a payment dispute.
January 17, 2010 – Presidential elections are held. Yushchenko receives only 5% of the vote. Yanukovych receives 35% and Tymoshenko receives 25%, necessitating a run-off.
February 14, 2010 – In the run-off, Yanukovych wins 48.95% of the vote to Tymoshenko’s 45.47%. Tymoshenko alleges fraud and is openly critical of Yanukovych. She loses her position as prime minister in March.
August 2011 – A court motion calls for Tymoshenko’s arrest. The arrest is in connection to a 2009 gas contract negotiated when she was prime minister. Tymoshenko brushes off all charges against her as political, calling the trial a “farce.”
December 17, 2013 – Putin agrees to buy $15 billion of Ukraine’s debt and reduce the price of natural gas supplied to the country.
January 16, 2014 – Yanukovych signs laws restricting the right to protest. This leads to large numbers of protesters in Kyiv and clashes with police. The law is repealed on January 28.
February 21, 2014 – Negotiations lead to a deal which reduces Yanukovych’s powers as president and rolls back parts of the Constitution.
February 28, 2014 – Andrii Parubii, the Ukrainian chief of national security and defense, says the country’s military and police forces have stopped Russian military forces from seizing two airports in Crimea.
March 1, 2014 – The upper house of the Russian parliament votes to send troops into Crimea on the same day the pro-Russian leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, asks Putin for help in maintaining peace.
March 2, 2014 – Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says of Russian troops in the Crimean peninsula, “This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country.”
March 6, 2014 – Crimea’s parliament votes to hold a referendum on leaving Ukraine and becoming part of Russia.
March 16, 2014 – In the Crimean referendum, 96.7% vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and being annexed by Russia.
March 17, 2014 – US and EU officials announce sanctions on more than two dozen Russian officials and their allies in Crimea. Crimea’s regional parliament applies to join with Russia, and in Moscow, Putin signs a decree that recognizes the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Crimea.
March 18, 2014 – In Moscow, Putin signs an annexation pact with the prime minister of Crimea and the mayor of the city of Sevastopol.
March 18, 2014 – In response to masked gunmen killing a member of Ukraine’s military, wounding another and placing the rest of the staff of a base in Crimea under arrest, the Defense Ministry authorizes its forces in Crimea to use weapons “to protect and preserve the life of Ukrainian soldiers.”
March 22, 2014 – In Crimea, Russian special forces take control of Belbek Airbase, and pro-Russian self-defense forces take control of Novofederoskoe military base and a Ukrainian ship, the Slavutych.
June 7, 2014 – Poroshenko is sworn in as Ukraine’s new president.
June 27, 2014 – Ukraine signs a trade deal with the European Union, the same agreement that Yanukovych backed out of in 2013.
September 20, 2014 – Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists agree to a ceasefire.
October 26, 2014 – Ukrainians vote in parliamentary elections. Ukrainian citizens in Russia-annexed Crimea and the eastern areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists do not participate in the elections because of ongoing violence. Poroshenko hails exit poll results and says the projected outcome gives “a powerful and irreversible backing to Ukraine’s path to Europe.”
January 26, 2015 – Poroshenko announces that Ukraine will ask The Hague tribunal to investigate alleged “crimes against humanity” in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
September 28, 2016 – The Joint Investigation Team, a Dutch-led group of prosecutors gathering evidence for a potential criminal trial, says that it has concluded that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile brought in from Russia to a pro-Russian area of eastern Ukraine.
November 25, 2018 – The Ukrainian military says Russian boats opened fire on and seized three of its ships near Crimea, detaining 23 of its sailors and wounding at least three. The ships were planning to enter the Kerch Strait, a shared waterway of strategic importance for both countries. Russia claims the vessels illegally entered Russia’s territorial waters and were carrying out dangerous maneuvers, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
November 26, 2018 – Ukrainian lawmakers vote to introduce martial law in the border areas with Russia. It will be introduced on November 28 and will last 30 days.
January 24, 2019 – Yanukovych is found guilty of treason by a Ukrainian court for helping Russia and for his attempts to quash demonstrations in 2014. He is sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison.
May 7, 2019 – The US Embassy in Kyiv announces that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch will leave her post earlier than planned.
May 20, 2019 – Zelensky is sworn in as president. He orders a snap election for parliament.
July 21, 2019 – Zelensky’s party wins a majority of seats in parliament during the snap election.
October 1, 2019 – Zelensky agrees to hold a local election in eastern Ukraine, signing accords with Russia, European monitors and separatists from the region. The agreement could pave the way for peace talks between Zelensky, Putin and European leaders. Ukrainian nationalists protest the agreement, describing it as a capitulation to Russia.