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23 August 1917]

[The New Europe

The Ukraine Problem since the Revolution

The Russian Revolution meant the liberation not only of the Great Russians, but of all the other nationalities of the Empire. The first proclamation of the Provisional Government restored all the constitutional rights of Finland and removed the civil and religious restrictions that had hitherto been imposed on the non-Russian nationalities. The case of Finland was rather different from that of the other nationalities, as Finland’s union with Russia was of a looser character. The Poles received their independence at the hands of Russia, but Polish territory was still occupied by the enemy, and the working out of any detailed arrangement was not so pressing. The other important national question was that of the Ukraine, and it was a problem much less simple than that of either Finland or Poland.

Russians and Ukrainians are so closely related both by race and language that many Russians have been slow to admit the distinctions of nationality that undoubtedly exist. But for the oppression of the old Tsarist Government there might have been no political movement in the Ukraine; and further, but for the rivalry between Austria and Russia the Ukrainian movement might not have developed so rapidly. That, however, is no argument for refusing to look facts in the face as they are to-day. Whatever may be the cause, there is undoubtedly a very strong feeling of Ukrainian nationality both in Eastern Galicia and Northern Hungary and in the Ukrainian provinces of Russia. Ukrainian is more than a dialect of Russian, it is a separate language with a literature of its own.

A previous article in The New Europe (No. 44) dealt with the Ukraine problem up to the outbreak of the war. In that article mention was made of the intrigues of the Austrophils and Russophils in Eastern Galicia during the years immediately preceding the war. The Russian Nationalists under Count Vladimir Bobrinski carried on an energetic campaign against the Ukrainian movement in Eastern Galicia, and even attempted to convince public opinion in Great Britain that the Ruthenes were but “Russian peasants in Galicia.” This campaign was accompanied by much bribery and espionage, but in condemning the actions of the Russian Nationalists we must remember that Austria was engaged in similar attempts to turn the Ruthenes against the Russians,