The history of Ukraine dates back to the times of Kyivan Rus, which was one of the largest states in Europe back in the 9th-13th centuries. The capital of this state was Kyiv, while Moscow was not founded until year 1147.
The Medieval history of Ukraine is associated with Kyivan Rus and Kyiv as the capital of a large and prosperous state, spreading from the Carpathian Mountains to the Volha River, and from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.
Kyivan Rus, the first state to arise among the Eastern Slavs in the 9th century, took its name from the city of Kyiv, which was founded in 482. From 882, the Rus was ruled by the Riurykide dynasty. The sign of the Riuryk family was a trident, which was then depicted on the first coins, and which is the national symbol and official coat of arms of Ukraine now.
During this time, Kyiv became the capital of the newly-established and rapidly rising state. The apogee of power and territorial expansion that the Kyivan Rus reached during the reign of Volodymyr the Great and his son Yaroslav the Wise in the years 980–1054.
During the Riuryk dynasty reign Kyivan Rus achieved the most prosperity.
Ruiryk family adopted Christianity across the Kyivan Rus from the Byzantine Empire, thus tightening connections with other European countries; developed a new restructured tribute system that allowed for an increase in state budget income; have made the first attempt to establish relations with Western Europe via diplomatic visits; introduced the first law and regulation document across Kyivan Rus "Ruska Pravda", invested actively in infrastructure, architecture, and education.
However, due to being fragmented and weakened by internal political strife, Kyivan Rus became an easy prey for invaders. In 1237, Mongolians, led by Batu Khan, invaded the Kyivan Rus from the East, and dozens of cities were destroyed or looted. In 1240, Kyiv was captured by the Mongols. By that date, the Kyivan Rus stopped its existence, and the former Rus municipalities became part of the Golden Horde for centuries, marking the new age — the age of Mongol Rule under which Moscow principality gained its power.
After the collapse of Kyivan Rus, the Grand Duchy of Moscow developed independently and dreamed of reviving Rus under its patronage. Starting from Cossack times, especially from 1654, when the liberation Cossack movement of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi took place, Russia tried to transform Ukraine into an ‘imperial suburb’ and destroy Ukrainian identity.
Bohdan Khmelnytskyi strengthened in the Zaporozhian Host in Central Ukraine, inhabited by Cossacks, and gave them supreme power in the new Ukrainian state. For over a century, the Zaporozhian Host with Cossacks was a solid political and military force that challenged the authority of Poland-Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean Khanate, and the Tsardom of Russia. After Khmelnytsky’s death in 1687, Ivan Mazepa was elected as a new leader, who tried to unite Ukraine. However, the Battle of Poltava was won by Russia in 1709, and Cossack Hetmanate became an autonomous state of the Tsardom of Russia.
The general trend for a long time was the destruction by the tsarist regime of any manifestations of Ukrainian individuality and national identity. For three centuries, Moscow went out of their way to destroy Ukraine as a separate nationality, and the attempts are still ongoing.
Firstly, the termination of the Cossack Hetmanate’s existence (1764): Russia liquidated the Hetmanate and incorporated Ukrainian lands into its state.
Secondly, Catherine II destroyed Zaporozhian Host (1775): Russian troops disarmed the Cossacks and confiscated the treasury archives of Cossack kleinods.
Then, during the reigns of Alexander I (1801–1825) and Nicholas I (1825–1855), the Russian centralised administrative system covered all of Ukraine. Even the name "Ukraine" practically ceased to be used: Left-bank Ukraine was called Little Russia, Right-bank - South-Western Territory, and Southern Ukraine – Novorossia.
Lastly, the Emsky degree of Oleksandr II (1876): the ban of the Ukrainian language, liquidation of communities, and dismissal of professors.
In 1922, Ukraine became a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. As Soviet soldiers gained power in Ukraine, they forcefully integrated Ukrainian territories into it.
The structures of the totalitarian system were increasingly strengthened, and new waves of repression began. Captured by the bolsheviks, Ukraine experienced an extremely difficult situation: the collapse of industrial production, a drop in productivity, a lack of fuel, food, clothing, shoes, and unemployment became a characteristic feature of economic life.
Totalitarianism in Ukraine means repressions and murders; suppression of centrist or opposition forces; the main incentive to work was fear; free labour through the Gulag system; atmosphere of mutual mistrust and search for enemies.
Holodomor and Executed Renaissance (1932 – 1933) - an artificial famine was organised to suppress the Ukrainian nation. The imprisonment and execution of Ukrainian intellectuals aimed to destroy their identity.
In general, all this created a depressing atmosphere and gave rise to anxious forebodings of a new round of repressions in society. But on March 5, 1953, I. Stalin died. The moral and political climate in the country slowly began to soften.
The restructuring processes were still controlled by the state's management units, but the further, the more life diverged from these limited tasks. The politicisation of society grew, the formation of a multi-party system began, the formation of legitimate opposition, the labour movement gradually developed, the actions of students intensified, and a new Ukrainian national and cultural revival began.
However, the old system continued to work by inertia, there was no agreed concept of reform, the circle of reformers in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself wasn’t enough, and the social basis for carrying out reforms did not contribute to their success. Repressions and persecutions was not end.
Arrests and repression of Ukrainian cultural activists (1965 – 1982): repressions against the dissident movement. Ukrainian intellectuals and activists opposed the violation of human rights in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In 1991, Ukrainians established their independent and sovereign state, aiming to rebuild democracy and freedom as the main priorities.
Since the first years of Ukrainian independence, Ukraine-Russia relations have been gradually deteriorating. From 1991 to 2004, close relationships between the two countries were based on the historical background of Ukraine, which was formed under Russian influence. Everything changed in 2004, when Ukrainians openly demonstrated their intention to be part of a democratic world and resented the victory of a pro-Russian candidate in the rigged presidential election.
The shift of Ukraine from a post-colonial mentality toward European values became the stumbling point in Ukraine-Russia relations and the core reason for the current war. Russia reacted immediately to each step of the Ukrainian European Integration, and the rates edged each time upward.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Ukraine was challenged with a contradictory political course. The fifth presidential election forced Ukrainians to choose between candidates with opposite programmes: Victor Yanukovych had an openly pro-Russian position, while V. Yushchenko declared intentions to move the country towards the EU and NATO membership. Thus, according to the announced official results, the second round of the 2004 presidential elections was won by the pro-Russian Victor Yanukovych.
That led to mass protests with appeals to cancel the results of the fabricated election. Since the colour of Yushchenko’s election campaign was orange, the Ukrainian revolution was called “Orange”, which ended with re-voting and the victory of pro-Western Victor Yushchenko.
President elections of 2004 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine were the major determining factors for the pro-European choice of all Ukrainians. It was the first sign of neglecting The Soviet past and movement toward a Western world with its values and respect for all nations and cultures. Ukrainian independence was on the rise together with the Ukrainian language, culture and freedom of speech.
Pro-Kremlin opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych won the presidential elections in 2010 and implemented a pro-Russia policy within his term.
In November 2013, V. Yanukovych decided to suspend the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU. Such decision was a part of the abrupt policy shift from a pro-European to a pro-Russian vector of development and forced the thousands of demonstrators, predominantly young students, to go out on the streets.
On November 30, 2013, the protests were severely suppressed by an authoritarian regime. However, the protest did not stop and led to a thousand new protestors at Independence Square in Kyiv, and the chain of events that are known as Euromaidan, or Revolution of Dignity, started. The rapid and dramatic expansion of the civil resistance was based on people’s extremely critical attitude towards the policies being implemented by the Yanukovych regime, as well as the authoritarian use of power.
Major Goals of the Revolution of Dignity: signing of Association Agreement and Free Trade Agreement with the EU; impeachment of President V. Yanukovych; re-adoption of the 2004 amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine.
Russia started creating economic and political turbulence in Ukraine and dispatched its army to Ukrainian borders for an unexpected military exercise. Militants with no signs on their uniforms captured government buildings in Crimea and took control of the two airports there. In March 2014, Russia formally annexed Crimea.
Despite broad criticism of the annexation in the West as a gross violation of international law, the Russian military forces along with the terrorist forces backed by Russia spread across Eastern Ukraine. For this reason, the Presidential elections did not take place in 25 out of 225 districts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where the Russian forces were trying to ban the election. However, despite this tense situation, 60.3% of the Ukrainians voted in May 2014.
As a result of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the beginning of Russian military intervention in Donbas, 20% of the Ukrainian economy was lost at a total cost of 150 billion USD. Moreover, the banking system crisis caused the Ukrainian economy to lose almost 40% of GDP between 2014 and 2016.
Therefore, the government implemented a lot of reforms to make macroeconomic and fiscal policies stable for the nation in order to address the rising inflation and budget deficit.
During 2015-2022, Russia has been infringing Minsk Agreement II terms, continuing to capture small increments of Ukrainian territory, using prohibited heavy weapons, violating the ceasefire, and launching cyberattacks. The reasons for the frozen conflict were the denial of the involvement of official Russian forces and the unwillingness to renegotiate key Minsk Agreements II conditions. Despite the Russian aggression, Ukraine continued economic development and made its way toward the EU.
The outbreak of military reforms (2015-2017) - Ukraine presented to NATO four areas of its further army transformation and the USA approved sales of heavy weapons to Ukraine, enhancing the Ukrainian army’s development.
Ukraine’s path to the EU (2017-2018) - the European Parliament adopted the possibility of visa-free travelling for the citizens of Ukraine to the EU; the European Council adopted a decision to conclude the association agreement with Ukraine and entered it into force; the government of Ukraine established the High Anti-Corruption Court as a measure to comply with the European anti-bribery standards.
In May 2019, Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected as the 6th President of Ukraine with the support of 73% of electors in the second round. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky approved Ukraine’s National Security Strategy, which ensures the development of a distinctive partnership with NATO and insisted on NATO membership. Nevertheless, Russia continued providing autonomous status to the DNR and LNR, which would allow the blocking of external policy decisions of Ukraine indirectly.
During 2021–2022, the tensions were increasing, as the Russian military capacity was increasing massively along the Ukrainian border, claiming to Western governments and politicians that it would be only for the purpose of military exercises. At the same time, Russia demanded Ukraine to drop its NATO aspirations and limit the deployment of weapons to the country’s eastern flank.
In January 2022, Russia continued concentrating troops and equipment on the border with Ukraine and announced the largest joint military drills with Belarus. Meanwhile, Russian officials issued statements denying any plans to invade Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier carries a baby across a destroyed bridge in Irpin.
Military pilots of Ukraine before departure.
Different generations of Ukrainians protect Ukraine.
Rescuers dismantle the debris after a missile strike in Kyiv.
A boy near the city center at Mariupol.
A girl on a swing near the destroyed building in Borodianka.
Ukrainian fields are suffering from airstrikes by the Russian military.
KYIV RYSING is a comprehensive study focusing on the business ecosystem of Ukraine, developed by Kyiv Consulting for the purpose of improving the visibility of our country within the global information space.
The name “KYIV RYSING” and particularly the letter “Y”, implies emphasising the real potential of Ukraine and, especially, Kyiv in the context of PAST and PRESENT events, as well as FUTURE plans and opportunities by addressing the conceptual topics: historical prerequisites for the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine; the current impact of the war on military, social, economic, and environmental spheres, both in Ukraine and globally; future opportunities and action plans in the development of New Age Ukraine after the victory in the war against Russia.
We believe that Ukraine will offer a variety of business and investment options in the post-war period, as the times of big challenges come with big opportunities. Therefore, the study aims at highlighting the economic potential of our country along with the future global role of strong and democratic Ukraine.
KYIV RYSING study is based on the application of our comprehensive data-driven approach, which allows us to generate and combine insights from different sources. It includes official facts and figures from Ukrainian and international public sources; results of the survey conducted among the Ukrainian population, as well as interviews with opinion leaders, including top business representatives, international politics, and military experts. This approach allows us to evaluate the situation from a 360-degree perspective and share it with our international audience.
The annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the start of the military aggression of Russia in Donbas deprived 20% of the Ukrainian economy, while the total damage amounted to 150 Bn USD. In 2015, real GDP decreased by 9.8% compared to 2014, and during 2014-2016, the Ukrainian economy lost 38% of its GDP because of the banking system crisis. To cope with the growing inflation and budget deficit, the government conducted a number of reforms to stabilise the macroeconomic and fiscal policies. Another disruptive factor impacting the Ukrainian economy was the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020, causing a 3.8% decrease in the Ukrainian GDP compared to 2019. But the increased demand for Ukrainian goods, especially metal and agricultural products, revived economic growth in 2021. Before the war, the GDP was forecasted to grow by 3.2% in 2022.
Since 1991, the IT sector in Ukraine has boosted its development thanks to highly professional IT specialists and the growing interest of global tech companies. Google, Oracle, and Ericsson were among the key global firms that established R&D centres in Ukraine. Despite a relatively small share in GDP in 2021 (2.7%), IT services increased their share in service exports to 37%, with the USA and the UK being the leading export destinations. In recent years, the IT sector generated twice as much export revenue as the gas transmission system or 25% of the agricultural sector’s export revenue.
As of 2021, 5,000 IT companies are operating and over 289 thousand IT specialists are employed in Ukraine. IT firms have grown in both size and number, creating a demand for high-quality office spaces with robust tech infrastructure, hosting over 3,000 tech events, and investing approximately 832 million USD in start-ups.
AI-powered writing assistant that reviews spelling and grammar.
App providing a possibility to develop, secure, and operate software in a single source.
AI-powered revenue intelligence programme.
Leading full-service blockchain technology company.
AI-powered revenue intelligence programme.
Leading full-service blockchain technology company.
In 2020, Ukraine launched the Diia application, which enables Ukrainian citizens to use digital documents on their smartphones instead of physical documents for identification and sharing purposes.
During the war, the Ukrainian IT sector managed to slightly strengthen its position compared to other industries. In March-May 2022, the IT sector generated 1.7 Bn USD in sales — 6% higher than in the same period in 2021. Such a positive performance was mainly driven by a successfully implemented remote work scheme, active international contracts, and a general trend towards opening offices outside Ukraine to hedge the operating risks. On the other hand, since February 2022, all exporters, including the IT industry, have been obliged to exchange their revenues into foreign currency at a fixed rate, which is about 10% lower than the market rate, hence lowering the IT industry’s profits.
Although IT companies have successfully moved a part of their employee workforce out of Ukraine and continued operations, the invasion has brought new challenges to the IT sector, provoking uncertainty as to the future path and the development of the IT industry in Ukraine.