countryaah, Ukraine was very important to the economy of the Soviet
Union and the country has a significant industrial heritage
from that time. In addition to industrial production, the
extraction of mineral resources and agriculture is important
for the country's economy. The country is highly dependent
on steel exports and this makes the country's economy very
vulnerable to international economic activity. Ukraine
depends on gas imports from Russia. Much of Russia's
European gas exports go via pipelines in Ukraine. Ukraine
still faces significant challenges in the fight against
corruption. Ukrainian exports mainly consist of steel, coal,
machinery and agricultural products.
Because of the Black Earth belt, Ukraine is a rich
agricultural country, self-sufficient with the vast majority
of agricultural products. In Soviet times, Ukraine was
considered the Soviet Union's grain chamber. Ukraine had 19%
of the population of the Soviet Union, but accounted for a
full 23% of agricultural production. The most important
agricultural products are cereals, sugar beets, potatoes and
other vegetables. The country has significant animal
husbandry, especially cattle, pigs and poultry. Agriculture
employed 2009 approx. 25% of the population.
The fall of the command economy after 1991 led to a major
decline in production in agriculture as well. However, this
is not only due to a decline in production. After the fall
of the command economy, agricultural production has also
been shifted towards products that are more easily
marketable. For example, areas that were previously used for
meat and milk production, and also barley, have been
transferred to sunflower production.
Ukraine is highly dependent on imports of energy
products. Ukraine produces some gas itself, but most of it
is imported from Russia and to a lesser extent from
Turkmenistan. Gas, oil and petroleum products form an
important part of the country's imports. Gas and oil
discoveries have been made on the Ukrainian continental
shelf in the Black Sea (around Crimea and in the maritime
regions towards Romania), and Ukrainian authorities hope
that these discoveries will make the country more
self-sufficient in fossil fuels in the future.
In 2006, nuclear power accounted for almost half of
electricity production. Ukraine also receives electricity
from hydropower and thermal power plants.
The heavy industry dominates Ukrainian industrial
production. This was the case in the Soviet era, and is
reinforced by independence. The most important Ukrainian
industrial branches have traditionally been metallurgical,
mechanical engineering, chemical and defense industries. It
is particularly energy-intensive industry that has performed
best after the fall of the command economy, and this has
reinforced Ukraine's dependence on energy imports.
In 2008, Russia, Turkey and Italy were the largest buyers
for Ukraine's exports, while Russia, Germany and China were
the countries Ukraine imported the most. Main export
products are metal, machinery, electrical products,
minerals, chemical products, vehicles and food products.
Ukraine's most important import goods are besides oil and
gas, minerals, machinery, electrical equipment and chemical
Transport and Communications
The road network was 169,400 km in 2008, and the total
rail network in 2006 was 22,473 km. The cities of Kiev and
Kharkiv have developed subway. The Ukrainian rivers also
have a certain transport significance. Ukraine also has a
significant seagoing trading fleet. There are eight
international airports. The national airline is called Air
Ukraine, and the country also has a large number of smaller
Another Ukrainian-Russian battle issue concerned the
division of the Black Sea Fleet, which had its main base in
Crimea. Both countries claimed the fleet, and only after a
series of crises, summits and solution attempts was the
issue finally resolved through an agreement in May 1997,
which divided the fleet between them, and where the Russian
Navy was granted leasehold rights in Sevastopol.
The battle for the Black Sea fleet was further
complicated by the controversy over the status of Crimea.
The Crimean Peninsula had been transferred to Ukraine in
1954, and in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet
Union had been impacted for upgrading to the status of
autonomous republic within the framework of Ukraine.
However, strong forces in Crimea wanted full detachment and
unification with Russia (the majority of its inhabitants are
The Crimean conflict flared up several times, not least
in connection with the election of the newly created
presidential office in January 1994, when separatists Yuriy
Meshkov was elected president. After internal strife in the
separatist movement, Meshkov disbanded the regional
parliament in September 1994, announcing a referendum to
clarify the sovereignty issue, but was even ousted when the
Ukrainian parliament in May 1995 abolished Crimean
presidential office and constitution.
Ukraine under Kuchma
At the June 1994 presidential election, the same regional
pattern followed. The western and central regions voted for
incumbent President Leonid Kravchuk, while the eastern
regions preferred former Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma, who
got 52 percent of the vote in the second round. In economic
policy, Kuchma relied on a moderate course of reform. The
government implemented a strict budgetary policy that
triggered several loans and credits from the International
Monetary Fund and the EU.
As a result of this, Kuchma soon came to the edge of the
Communist-dominated Verkhovna Rada. A constitutional crisis
was triggered in May 1995, but was resolved by the President
and the majority in the National Assembly signing a
constitutional agreement that outlined the basics of a power
distribution. Only in June 1996 did Ukraine, as the last of
the former Soviet republics, adopt a new constitution to
replace the Soviet.
In 1996, the karbovan was replaced with a new currency,
hryvnia. Kuchma's economic policy led to inflation gradually
coming under control (in 1996 it was down 40 percent), but
production continued to fall below half of the 1991 level.
In the fall of 1999, President Leonid Kuchma won a clear
victory with 56 percent of the vote in the second round,
against communist Petro Symonenko's 38 percent.
Kuchma's second presidential period was marked by
economic progress (from 2000, the economy was again
growing), but also increasing political turmoil. The regime
became increasingly authoritarian, at the same time as
various business interests, the so-called oligarchs, gained
political influence. In September 2000, journalist Heorhij
Gongadze was taken away, and in November of the same year,
opposition politician Oleksandr Moroz presented audio tapes
that he believed implicated Kuchma in the liquidation. The
audio tape scandal led to extensive demonstrations and the
formation of the "Ukraine without Kuchma" protest movement
as a unifying platform for the opposition.
Kuchma's departure, which he was prevented from holding
for a new term, led to the so-called Orange Revolution in
late 2004. In the second round of the presidential election,
Kuchma's candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, won a
trickle, but opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko (also he
former prime minister under Kuchma), refused to acknowledge
defeat and pointed to extensive electoral fraud.
The opposition set up a tent camp in the center of Kiev,
and the massive demonstrations, with opposition leaders
Yushchenko and Julija Tymoshenko in the lead, forced
Yanukovych to join in a new second round of elections. The
re-election came to an end after the country's Supreme Court
on December 3 found that the electoral fraud was so
extensive that it was not possible to determine who had won
the election, and they canceled the official election
result. The new round of elections was held on December 26,
where Yushchenko received 52 percent of the vote.
Reluctantly, Yanukovych acknowledged the defeat.
In January 2005, Viktor Yushchenko appointed the second
front figure of the revolution, Julija Tymoshenko, as prime
minister. Several important constitutional amendments were
passed, including a great deal of power being transferred
from the presidential administration to parliament and
purely proportional elections were introduced.
The regime change also had important consequences for the
position of the media, while the financial results were less
uplifting. Internal divisions in the coalition, not least
between Prime Minister Tymoshenko and the head of Ukraine's
Security Council, Petro Poroshenko, caused both Tymoshenko
and Poroshenko to be deposed in September 2005.