Every year on January 22, Ukraine commemorates Unity Day, a significant occasion marking the proclamation of the Act of Unity between the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR) and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR). Established by the Decree of the President of Ukraine on January 21, 1999, No. 42, this day serves as a reminder of a pivotal historical event that unfolded 105 years ago on Sofiyska Square in Kyiv.
The Act of Unity declared on January 22, 1919, stands as a monumental chapter in Ukrainian history, symbolizing the consolidation of Ukrainian lands into a unified state. This momentous occasion was the culmination of aspirations that had been brewing among Ukrainians from both the Left Bank and Right Bank since at least the mid-19th century. Unity, in this context, signifies the amalgamation of all lands inhabited by a particular nation into a single state entity on contiguous territory.
Beyond territorial unification, the concept of unity extends to the spiritual cohesion of all citizens, transcending differences in nationality. Furthermore, unity is inseparable from the notions of sovereignty and the tangible independence of the people, forming the bedrock for the construction of a democratic state and guaranteeing the survival and existence of the nation.
The idea of unity has remained a fundamental national value for Ukrainians, a sentiment that was reaffirmed on January 22, 1919, when the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic joined forces to create a unified state. This historic proclamation addressed the yearning for unity among Ukrainians who had been divided by the borders of former empires.
In the present day, Ukraine continues to grapple with the struggle for independence and unity. The celebration of Unity Day serves as a poignant reminder of this ongoing battle. Unity remains a top priority on the national agenda, with the full restoration of territorial integrity seen as the ultimate goal. As Ukraine endeavors to liberate all territories seized by external forces, the pursuit of unity stands as a beacon of hope and a pathway to victory.
The struggle for unity has not been without its challenges, as Soviet and Russian propaganda has sought to create divisions among Ukrainian regions, propagating the notion of different “types” of Ukrainians. However, in the face of contemporary Russian aggression, Ukrainians have demonstrated resilience and a collective desire to live in a free state that determines its future.
Unity goes beyond the commemoration of a shared past; it represents a call for united cooperation in shaping the future. Whether on the battlefield or in the everyday efforts of citizens from different regions, the common goal is clear: to build an independent, democratic, and united Ukraine.
As Ukraine marks Unity Day in 2024, the chosen slogan encapsulates the spirit of the occasion: “Our unity is our weapon.” This rallying cry underscores the power inherent in the collective strength of a nation united in its pursuit of freedom, democracy, and a shared destiny.