When Boris Yeltsin told George Bush in 1991 that the USSR couldn’t exist without Ukraine, he wasn’t referring to the economy: culturally, Russia would have been isolated. Today, the same thesis about Slavic identity is being debated with rockets. Serhii Plokhy on Ukraine’s special role in Soviet and post-Soviet history.
is a PhD candidate in Russian and East European History at Yale University. She is co-editor with Timothy Snyder of The Balkans as Europe: The Nineteenth Century (forthcoming, 2016). She was Junior Visiting Fellow (2014) and a Research Associate (2015) at the IWM in Vienna, and an associate curator of the School of Abducted Europe.
The January 2019 creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, independent of Russian religious and political power, has produced tensions at home and in the wider Orthodox world. Presented by the Poroshenko regime as a patriotic symbol, it has yet to establish itself as the dominant Ukrainian church. Moscow’s efforts to undermine the OCU have hindered its recognition globally, though the tide may be turning and the church’s future depends on how it meets these challenges.
When Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met in Havana, for one part of the Catholic Church the past seemed to be repeating itself, writes Katherine Younger. In the nineteenth century, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church found itself in the middle of both diplomatic negotiations and ideological clashes between the Vatican and Russia – and it is again today.