Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense battle with Russia to preserve its economic and political independence. But today’s conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine’s existence as a separate nation. Situated between Central Europe and Russia, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that have used it as a strategic gateway between East and West—from the Romans and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, all have engaged in global fights for supremacy on Ukrainian soil. Serhii Plokhii provides an insight into the current crisis by examining main trends in Ukraine’s longue duree history.
Serhii Plokhii is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. A leading authority on the history of Eastern Europe, he has published extensively in English, Ukrainian and Russian. Plokhii is the author of several influential monographs, including Yalta: The Price of Peace (2010) and The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union (2014), which won numerous awards, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in English on the international topics, the Pushkin House (London) Russian Book Prize, and the Antonovych Foundation Ukrainian Book Prize. In 2009, Plokhii was honored with the Early Slavic Studies Association Distinguished Scholarship Award. In 2013 he was named Walter Channing Cabot Fellow at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University for scholarly eminence in the field of history. His most recent book, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine was released by the Basic Books in New York and Penguin in London in December 2015.