Ukraine is a state located in Central and Eastern Europe, with a population of about 42 million people and a territory of 576.6 thousand square kilometers. (without the Crimea). The capital of the country – Kiev – in the 9th century became the capital of the Old Russian state (after Novgorod), and in this capacity remained until the end of the 13th century. After that time the modern territory of Ukraine was divided between the neighboring countries. Some of its parts sometimes passed from one neighbor to another.
This is what the modern flag of Ukraine looks like:
History of the flag
The modern flag of Ukraine was first used in June 1848 in Lviv, which was then part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. After the revolutionary events in Austria-Hungary, a liberation movement also arose in its Ukrainian part. In the city of Lvov, the self-government body Russka Rada was created. During the decision on the flag, which then did not exist, it was decided – to take as a basis the colors from the coat of arms of the Lviv land (one of the versions).
The use of yellow and azure colors correlate with the colors of the coat of arms of Lviv (Leopolska) land. The first documentary evidence of this fact dates back to the period of the “Great War” from 1409 to 1411, when the units from Lviv land took part in battles with the Crusaders, using a banner with a golden lion climbing a rock on an azure background. Subsequently, this banner was taken as the basis for the coat of arms of the Russian Voivodeship, which existed in the 15-18 centuries as part of the Polish Kingdom.
Subsequently, yellow and blue appeared on the symbol of the state in 1917-1918. Then two variants were approved. The difference between these variants was not in the color scheme, but in the sequence of their use:
- The blue-and-yellow species is the symbol of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR). This species was a symbol in the period from June 1917 to 1920. During this short period there were such subjects of territories as the Ukrainian autonomy within Russia, the Ukrainian People’s Republic, ZUNR. The same version of the flag was also adopted in 1941 as the flag of the Ukrainian National Government. This entity had a temporary status and after its abolition, another governing body, the Reichskommissariat, was created.
- The yellow and blue species is the symbol of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (eastern part of the country).
The flag of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic was subsequently (1991) approved as the official symbol of modern Ukraine.
It is known from the history of the country that the state symbol did not always have its current – blue-yellow appearance. Depending on the time period or form of statehood, it changed its colors or overall appearance several times.
In parallel with the banners of blue and yellow colors, there was also a banner denoting belonging to the country of the Soviets. So after the establishment of Soviet power in December 1917, the Ukrainian People’s Republic of Soviets was proclaimed and its own symbols were adopted.
After a little over two months in March 1918, as a result of the Brest Peace Treaty, the UNSR ceased to exist.
During the Civil War, insurgent armies of various types also operated in Ukraine. The most famous of them was the army of Nestor Makhno, who tried to form the “Free Territory” – societies of anarchist persuasion. The mentioned army is attributed variants of black flags with a skull or a slogan about anarchy.
In the periods from 1919 to 1929 and from 1929 to 1937 the Soviet Socialist Republic with its attributes was established in the Ukrainian part of the territory remaining part of the USSR. In the first case it was a red cloth with the abbreviation U.S.S.R.
In the second case – U.S.S.R. (abbreviation made of the same words but in Ukrainian “Ukrainian Socialist Republic”).
From 1937 to 1949 the inscription on the flag of the republic was slightly redesigned and the flag looked different. In this version, the second and third words of the Ukrainian name were swapped places.
Since 1949, the flag of Ukraine was again modified according to the uniform pattern of other flags of the USSR republics. Two-thirds of the width of the cloth was of red color, and 1/3 of the flag (from the bottom) – blue. This version lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The official symbol of the country is a cloth of two horizontal stripes of equal width: blue at the top and yellow at the bottom. The sides of the flag have a ratio of 2 to 3.
In the period from September 1991 to January 1992, the proportions of the sides of the official symbol of Ukraine were 1 to 2.
Only two colors are used on the Ukrainian flag: light blue (blue) and yellow (gold).
Meaning of colors and flag symbol
The national symbol of Ukraine has no official interpretation. Over time, the designation of colors has changed depending on the political fashion or tastes of contemporaries. Among the interpretations there are religious, sacred, symbolic and common. Among the variants of color meanings are the following:
- Blue – clear, cloudless sky, yellow – ripe wheat fields. This is the most popular interpretation.
- Two elements: blue – the element of water, yellow – the element of fire.
- Blue is the power of God, yellow is the power of faith.
- Blue is all that is earthly, yellow is higher spirituality.
- Blue – rivers and mountains, yellow – historical memory of Kievan Rus.
- Blue – passivity and conservatism, the need for spiritualization, yellow – active, creative.
Supporters of the inverted yellow and blue flag also have their own interpretation. Yellow represents the golden domes of Orthodox churches, blue the waters of the Dnieper River.
Ukrainian flag with a swastika
There is no evidence in the official history of Ukraine to support the use of the blue and yellow state symbol in combination with the Nazi swastika.
The yellow and blue cloth is another matter. It was used in the district (district) of Galicia, an administrative-territorial formation in 1941-1944 on the territory of occupied Poland.
Archival historical data indicate that this version of the flag was used by Galician volunteers and policemen. Austrian Hitler authorized the use of this version of the Ukrainian flag, which on the one hand symbolized the return of Galicia to Austria, i.e. Germany, on the other hand as a reward for the Ukrainian nationalists for their loyal service to the Reich. In 1943 the SS Rifle Division “Galicia” was formed, the soldiers of which used this banner.
During World War II, other national symbols were forbidden on the territory of Ukraine and used exclusively the German Nazi symbol of the time – a red cloth with a black swastika on a white background in the center.
At that time, the Reichskommissariat of Ukraine (1941-1945) was established in the occupied Ukraine and parts of Belarus and Poland. Ukrainian nationalist organizations (OUN) of both the Bender and Melnikov wings did not use swastikas on their banners.
During the events that began in Ukraine in 2013-2014 and subsequent hostilities, some supporters of fascist ideology used a variant of the flag with a swastika. Some of them dreamed of creating the Fourth Reich in Ukraine. But these facts have nothing to do with the state symbolism. All other variants of combining the current national symbol of Ukraine with the swastika, which are available on the Internet, most likely belong to the category of Internet memes.
Throughout the country’s history, depending on the historical epoch, Ukraine has used different symbols that corresponded to the political situation of a particular time. For example, in 1920 an attempt was made to create a sovereign territorial entity in the region of the Russian Far East on the border with China. Its name was Green Ukraine. The people used the name Zakitayshchina. A variant of the supposed flag was developed for this entity, however, the plans of the Ukrainians did not come true and in 1922 the formation did not take place.
After Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, the “flag” mess was put in order and in modern Ukraine each state formation has its own symbols. For example,
- the Standard of the President of the country;
- general staff;
- armed forces;
- Air Force;
- Navy, etc.
Each of the heads of government agencies have their own personal flags (standards). For example:
- Secretary of Defense,
- naval commanders,
- National Guard, etc.
Interesting facts about the flag
Of all the flags of the Slavic states, the red (scarlet) color is used in one way or another, symbolizing the blood shed for freedom and independence of the state. The only countries in this category are Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have no red on their flag, but the colors used are the same. In both cases there is blue and yellow.
Regarding the origin of the modern state symbols of Ukraine, there are other versions. For example,
- The blue-yellow coloring is a gift from the Empress of Austria to the Ukrainians of Galicia.
- Tsar Alexander I in 1803 granted two banners to the Khrugvi (army unit) from the Black Sea Cossacks. The first was blue-yellow and the second yellow-blue.
Whatever the versions about the origin of the flag or the colors used on it, it seems interesting that countries and cities from India to America have similar modern symbols of Ukraine.
General information about Ukraine
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