Going Places Educational Travel Blog - Teacher Tuesday: Ukraine and Russia Lesson Plans
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March 4, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: Ukraine and Russia Lesson Plans

With the current crisis between Ukraine and Russia dominating most international news broadcasts, we at passports figured it was a good time to pause for a minute and create some lesson plans that might help teachers explain the situation to their students.

Tensions between the Ukrainians and the Russians go back for hundreds of years, to the days of Peter the Great and the 17th century. Ukraine, long seen as an important “breadbasket” for Eastern Europe due to its abundance of rich, fertile farmland, has been at the crossroads of different empires for centuries.

The majority of people in modern-day Eastern Ukraine consider themselves of Orthodox, Slavic and Russian descent. The number varies from specific region to region, but is generally over 50% in the areas east of Kiev (the country’s capital) and as high as 75% in the Crimea. Western Ukraine, where only about 5-10% of the population is Russian, is mostly populated by Catholics, and was taken from Poland by Russia centuries ago. It still maintains a fierce sense of independence. The regions around Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city, are somewhere in the middle.

During the Soviet Era, 1922-1991, Ukrainian SSR maintained a symbiotic, yet inferior, position to the larger and more powerful Russian Republic, but it was also very important to Soviet collectivization and industrial efforts. At one point at the height of the Cold War in the late 1970s, over 20% of the Soviet budget was dedicated to Ukraine (not all that surprising since its “son”, Leonid Brezhnev, ran the Kremlin at the time). The Crimea itself was “given” to the Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Ukraine’s treaty joining the Russian Empire.

Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has continued to maintain a close economic relationship with its former Russian rulers. Unfortunately, sometimes that relationship has been strained. This is certainly one of those times. Many people in Kiev and Western Ukraine now want closer ties to the European Union and the West. Many people in Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea want closer ties to Moscow. Something has to give.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is determined to keep hold of Moscow’s former dependent republic, even to the point of sending troops across the border to “protect” Russian interests. One wonders what will come in the days ahead.

As the educator’s choice for travel, we at passports feel an obligation to help teachers explain what is going on in what might be an unfamiliar part of the world. This week, we’re working on lesson plans to help students better understand the history of the Ukrainian region and Russia’s involvement in it. Look on our website for the lesson plans listed below that might help.


Russian Panslavism in Eastern Europe
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 1918
Peter the Great
Crimean War 1853-1856
Russian Involvement in Ukraine: An Overview


Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Soviet Collectivization and Industrialization of the Ukraine
Crimean Peninsula: A brief history and importance to Russia
Yalta Conference of 1945
Ukrainian Independence in 1991
Other lesson plans may be planned or completed based on events this week.



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