Courtesy Reuters

New Factors in the Old Ukrainian Problem

TWENTY-THREE crowded years have elapsed since Germany's "Ukrainian Adventure" ended in disaster. Time has not altered the aims of conquest. Germany still covets the Ukraine's grain, beet-sugar, cattle, coal and iron; its actual and potential industrial capacity; the oil of the Caucasus; and the command of an important land route to the East. But history has made some conspicuous alterations in the drama staged by the Kaiser in 1918.

Frantically suing for peace in February of 1918, Russia had to abandon her protégée, the Ukrainian Soviet Republic; and the latter could offer much less resistance than the Germans are now encountering from the Soviet Union as a whole. Moreover, although the Germans invaded the Ukraine in 1918 at the invitation of a Ukrainian nationalist government, the influence of the nationalists has not yet become an apparent factor in the current conflict. In 1918 the mass of the Ukrainians were war-weary, indifferent to political questions, concerned only with preserving the gains won in the revolutionary upheavals of 1917. Today a large part of the Ukrainian people is evidently behind the Soviet régime. But the drama is not yet concluded. Will Ukrainian nationalism reappear? Will it sway the people as it did for a time in 1917? Will Ukrainian nationalism, if it arises again, act as a friend or as a foe of the invader?

The development of a distinctive Ukrainian nationalism has always been hampered by the historical, linguistic and religious affinity of the Ukrainians and the Russians. The two peoples were united politically from the ninth century to the thirteenth, when the Tartar invasions sundered them. Most of the Ukraine was again joined to Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (only about a tenth of the Ukrainians fell under Austrian rule). During the centuries of their separation, Russians and Ukrainians were aligned, not against each other, but against common enemies -- first the Tartars, then the Poles, under whose domination the Ukraine had come. Linguistically, the Ukrainians and Russians are closely related. Their

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