Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe with Kyiv being the capital city. Ukraine borders the Russian Federation to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the largest country entirely within Europe.
The medieval state of Kievan Rus was established in the 9th century as the first historically recorded East Slavic state. It emerged as a powerful nation in the Middle Ages but disintegrated in the 12th century. By the middle of the 14th century, Ukrainian territories were under the rule of three external powers—the Golden Horde, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Kingdom of Poland. After the Great Northern War (1700–1721), Ukraine was divided among a number of regional powers. By the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire, with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control.
A period of incessant warfare ensued, with establishment of internationally recognized independent Ukrainian People's Republic in 1917. Then Soviet intervention followed, which resulted in Soviet rule for more than 70 years. After 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, the Ukrainian SSR's territory was enlarged westward. In 1954 it expanded to the south with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations.
Ukraine became independent again when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. This dissolution started a period of transition to a market economy, in which Ukraine suffered an eight-year recession. Since then, however, the economy has benefited by a steady increase in GDP growth. Ukraine was impacted by the worldwide economic crisis in 2008 and the economy plunged. GDP fell 20% from spring 2008 to spring 2009, then leveled off as analysts compared the magnitude of the downturn to the worst years of economic depression during the early 1990s. The country remains a globally important market and, as of 2012, is the world's sixth-largest grain exporter.
Ukraine was one of the first 51 states to sign the United Nations Charter and since then, the country has consistently adhered to the purposes and principles of the Charter, substantially contributing to maintenance of international peace and security, disarmament, economic and social development, protection of human rights, and strengthening of international law. Today Ukraine is facing its most serious challenges since it achieved independence in 1991. The loss of control over parts of its territory and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the displacement of almost two million, the destruction of infrastructure, and the loss of substantial industrial output. The combination of the ongoing conflict and the difficult economic situation has brought further pain to Ukraine’s long-suffering people. But out of adversity comes opportunity. The new leaders took urgent and important steps to respond to the range of challenges and a sense of volunteerism swept the country. The international community is also playing a critical role in support of national efforts to build a peaceful, prosperous, strong and united Ukraine.
The United Nations has responded to Ukraine’s call. Building on its increased assistance and expanded incountry presence, the United Nations stands ready to further support Ukrainian efforts in three critical priority directions: humanitarian response, including for the conflict-affected regions and for internally displaced persons; recovery, stabilization and peacebuilding; and longer-term country-wide reforms and development, including promoting the rule of law and strengthening social stability and democratic governance. The common objectives of our efforts are sustainable peace, prosperity and security.
The 17 UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies working in Ukraine operate in a coordinated and strategic manner, and provide policy advice, technical assistance and emergency support to those in need. There is still much to do in Ukraine to achieve sustainable human development but Ukrainians have the capacity and the will to do it. The United Nations will remain the trusted partner of the country and people of Ukraine on every step of this challenging journey.