Ladies & Gentlemen,
below is a new chapter of the Ukraine's Foreign Ministry project "Cartographic propaganda" by Kyrylo Halushka
Role of Cartography in the Times of War, and Ukraine’s Place on the European Political Map Following World War I
World War I, which started reaping its grim harvest a hundred years ago, began in the same manner as all wars before it. Each side believed in a quick victory, and their cartographic services made “comic looks” of the war (Fig.1). Each subsequent year took away the lives of a million of soldiers. Laugher was replaced with horror: “what will our enemies make to us when they win?”. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to compare cartographic motivations of combatants – the “comic map” and the “horrible future after the war” (Fig.2). The latter map was drawn for the sailors of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Indeed, they guessed some things right, but these were the borders after World War TWO. As you see, even such cartographic fantasies may be useful.
What about Ukrainians? Neither the “comic”, nor the “scary” maps provided any place for them. However, a revolution took place in Russia in early 1917. Following it, the pace of changes in Ukraine was similar to that of 2014. Things unimaginable yesterday were becoming realities today – both good and bad ones. The Russian Empire, now called a “republic”, was collapsing faster than changing names. While some believed in democratization, the power was seized by Bolsheviks, who were creating a whole “new world”, where the “liberation of nationalities” could serve only a prelude to their dissolution in a new communist society. The latter was to be created by Russia too. There was no place for Ukraine in it – maybe only in declarations on the “resolution of national question”.
In December 1917, Bolshevik troops were marching on Kyiv. Their enemy was the Ukrainian People’s Republic, proclaimed just in November. It included governorates of the former Russian Empire that had Ukrainian majority. Its borders are well-known to us today as modern Ukraine’s eastern borders, because the Bolshevik alternative of 1917 (“Soviet Ukrainian People’s Republic”) did not offer other borders. Archive documents, in particular those from end-1917 and early 1918, tell us that there was no territorial “gifts to Ukraine” (Donbas of the South) “from Lenin” or “from Stalin” at that time or later. Ukraine’s territory, even in Soviet vision, kept on relying on ethnic data from czarist times. Nobody contested Ukraine’s borders. Figure 3 shows the territory of Ukraine as recognized by the first international legal agreement: “Map of Ukraine” (Vienna, 1918). It was drawn up on the basis of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed between the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) in February 1918.