The Ukraine is a region in the southwest part of the Soviet Union. It borders on the Black Sea and on some of the nations of eastern Europe. Its name comes from u-kraj, “at the border”, which is what the region was once called by Polish people.
At various times, parts of the Ukraine belonged to Poland, Lithuania, and the Turkish Empire. The entire Ukraine had come under the control of Russia by the early nineteenth century.
In the 1980s, the Ukraine is one of the republics that make up the Soviet Union. Its population was about 50 million then. The Ukrainians, sometimes called Little Russians, speak their own language, a tongue closely related to Russian.
In fact, about 13 percent of the people in the Soviet Union speak Ukrainian. In Kiev, the third largest city in the U.S.S.R., the most common language is not Russian, but Ukrainian!