Message on the 32nd Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence
Dear Friends of Ukraine in Thailand, Sawasdee Krub!
On the auspicious occasion of the 32nd Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence, I would like to recall milestones of Ukraine’s independence by looking back at our rich and complicated history.
Ukraine was not only the site of early Slavic expansion, but also is noted for the establishment of the medieval state of Kyivan Rus', which emerged as a powerful nation in the Middle Ages.
In the 11th century, Kyivan Rus' was geographically the largest state in Europe, becoming known in the rest of Europe as Ruthenia, with its capital Kyiv serving as the political, socioeconomic and cultural centre of the country.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, present-day Ukrainian territories came under the rule of four external powers: the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.
Resulting from the constant necessity to fight for existence, the Ukrainian Cossacks appeared – daring and fearsome warriors of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries – symbolizing an enduring Ukrainian spirit of independence and freedom.
After the 1648 rebellion of the Cossacks against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky agreed to the Treaty of Pereyaslav with Russia in 1654. The agreement was later superseded by the 1667 Polish-Russian Treaty, which divided Ukrainian territory between the Commonwealth and Russia. In 1686, the eastern part of Ukraine (east of the Dnipro River) came under Moscow rule, and the Metropolitanate of Kyiv was annexed by the Moscow Patriarchate. During subsequent decades, Tsarist rule over central Ukraine gradually replaced “protection”, which caused numerous Cossack uprisings against the Russian authorities.
A chaotic period of warfare after the revolution of 1917 in Russia, led to the establishment of Ukrainian independence between 1917 and 1920, as several entities such as the Ukrainian People's Republic, Hetmanate of the Ukrainian State and Directory of the Ukrainian People's Republic came into existence as independent states.
Ukrainians suffered tremendously under the political repression of Josef Stalin; millions were imprisoned, sent to concentration camps or executed.
In 1932 - 1933, millions of people in Ukraine, mostly peasants, starved to death in a devastating man-made famine, known as the Holodomor. It is estimated that from four to six million people died from hunger during this period.
After the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the Ukrainian territory expanded westward. Axis armies occupied Ukraine from 1941 to 1944. During World War II, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Ukrainian Insurgent Army and other entities fought for Ukrainian independence against both Germany and the Soviet Union.
Ukraine became independent again when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Now, though, my country is pulled into a tense fight with Russia to preserve our territorial integrity and political independence. But today's war, unprovokedly and brutally waged by the Kremlin neo-colonial ambitions against our independent state, is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine's territory and its existence as a sovereign nation.
And as history proves, since Ukrainians have always been standing for the truth, with the majority of the countries of the world currently supporting us in the struggle for peace, it will be Ukraine who will win.
This year we marked the 31st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Thailand. Unfortunately, it coincided with one of the most difficult periods of time for Ukraine – with continuous bombardments of Ukrainian cities and villages by Russian troops, killings of innocent civilians, regular missile attacks resulting in significant casualties, destruction of critical infrastructure and residential areas and causing ecocide.
We are grateful to the international community, including the Kingdom of Thailand, for its consolidated support of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ukraine considers the Kingdom of Thailand as one of its most important partners in Southeast Asia. At the same time, our relations actually started long before Ukraine regained its independence in 1991.
The history of people-to-people communication between Ukrainians and Thais began well before the 19th century, as our countries have much in common, namely – our history-long fight for independence, sovereignty and national identities. From our perspective, it’s quite complicated to determine our very initial contacts, as during certain periods of our history, Ukraine was under rule of other states and often associated as part of their empires.
It is worth mentioning that several famous Ukrainian women were royal family members in a number of foreign states such as France and the Ottoman Empire. One other Ukrainian woman, Catherine (Kateryna) Desnytska, who was born in 1886 in Lutsk (Volyn region in North-Western Ukraine), later became known as the Siam Princess Na Phitsanulok, the spouse of Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Prince of Phitsanulok.
After regaining Ukraine’s Independence, the relations between my country and the Kingdom of Thailand immediately became cordial and friendly, and we have only grown closer over the years.
The first ever official visit of the President of Ukraine to the Kingdom of Thailand in March 2004 gave a powerful impetus to further strengthen bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Thailand in various fields. The meetings of the Ukrainian leader with His Majesty the King of Thailand opened a new chapter in the history of our friendly bilateral ties.
During the official visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to the Kingdom of Thailand in June 2017, we signed important bilateral documents, including the Trade Agreement between the government of Ukraine and government of Thailand.
A row of foreign minister-level meetings between our countries have been organized on the side-lines of key international events. During the latest meeting between Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Don Pramudwinai on 10 November 2022 in Phnom Pehn, the parties discussed topical issues of bilateral cooperation with particular emphasis on the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine is committed to continue strengthening and developing mutually beneficial cooperation with the Kingdom of Thailand in the political, economic, science and technology, cultural and other spheres.
I also would like to express my most sincere gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, Thai hospitals, business circles, charity funds and individuals for the humanitarian assistance provided to the Ukrainian people during this time of war.
I would like to also to congratulate the Ukrainian community in Thailand on our Independence Day Anniversary and assure all my fellowmen that the Embassy will continue to provide support to all Ukrainians staying in Thailand. At the same time, taking into account current ongoing military aggression against our country, I would like to call upon you to unite in our efforts in disseminating the truth about the Russian war against Ukraine, engaging in humanitarian assistance and donations and raising awareness about our Ukrainian cultural identity, history and traditions among the Thai people.
Happy Independence Day of Ukraine!
Glory to Ukraine!
Mr Pavlo Orel
Embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of Thailand