why no western ukraine

In third grade, I was very proud, because I was one of the few students who could pronounce “Czechoslovakia.” Other kids would prod me — “Say it! Say it!” “Say what?” “You know what, just say it!” “Oh, {an eyebrow raised}, do you mean, CZECHOSLOVAKIA?” “See! I told you that he could say it! Pay up, boys!”

It was a talent that perhaps could have earned me a future slot as a diplomat in Prague {“The Secretary of State informed me that you are capable of saying it…”}, but, alas, there was that pesky Velvet Divorce. It happened {snap!} like that. Czechoslovakia dissected, cut into more easily pronounced halves. Nobody blinked, nobody twiddled nervous thumbs, the anxiety level was nonexistent, it was all calm and fine, at least from the vantage point of a New York junior high school student. Now that I read more about it, I can see that many people even opposed it! Still, it was bloodless, soft as velvet, and who doesn’t like velvet?

What I don’t understand, is why there is opposition to a Ukrainian “Velvet Divorce”? It’s apparent that Western Ukraine, those parts of current Ukraine that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is/are not happy with Kiev. They aren’t happy with Donetsk. Western Ukraine! Doesn’t it sound grand? {“Don’t worry, mother, she’s from Western Ukraine.”} And yet, when somebody brings up a partitioning of Western Ukraine from the rest of it, all you hear is no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. To which, I must respond, Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?…



13 thoughts on “why no western ukraine”

  1. In central Ukraine there are also a lot of people who support a Ukraine that is more independent from Russia and who have a strong Ukrainian identity, even as their first language is Russian. It is not possible to draw a clear demographic or geographic line between the two groups.This would make a split extremely complicated.
    Ukrainian nationalists would also never (as far as I know) want to give up Kiev.


  2. Did I ever claim something like that? To be honest, I do not see any part of Ukraine becoming part of the EU at any time in the future. But I do not think it is complete impossible.


  3. Well, in Czechoslovakia the Slovakian part was already autonomous and the Slovaks were perceived as another nation, so I suppose the existing structure facilitated the partition.

    Actually there are four Ukraines. Western Ukraine, the former Polish/Austrian part; Western-Leaning Ukraine north-west of a line from the northern tip of Transnistria to Kharkiv; Russian-Leaning Ukraine south-east of it; and Russian Ukraine in the far east (Donbass) and the Crimea. Some spectrum. But no clear-cut lines.

    “Don't worry, mother, she's from Western Ukraine.”


  4. What Temesta said. It's worth adding that even in southern and eastern Ukraine, where the Russian language and the Party of Regions are dominant, you still have majorities of the population a) identifying themselves as Ukrainian not Russian by nationality and b) supporting the idea of European Union accession.


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