Leonid Kravchuk

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Leonid Kravchuk in 2013

Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk (Ukrainian: Леонід Макарович Кравчук) (10 January 193410 May 2022) was a Ukrainian politician and the first president of Ukraine, who served from 5 December 1991 until 19 July 1994.


  • We want Ukraine to undergo transformation as a state, as a structure that is on the same level as European countries, civilized countries of Western Europe.
  • Ukraine does not need nuclear arms. It is our misfortune that they are located on our soil. And though we would most heartily wish they were not there, the reality is that they are. We did not put them there, but they are tied to Ukraine, they influence our politics. To get rid of them is not so simple. These are not tanks, which can be cut up without any problems. There is an entire complex here, a living organism that must be stopped. We face three problems: safety, compensation and the environment.
  • Ukraine must be reckoned with as a state and not viewed as a part of Russia. One simple thing must be understood: Ukraine will not do as is ordered by others, be this Russia or any other government. It will do what is in the interests of its people, just as any normal country. I would like to find solutions that will accommodate both Ukraine and other countries. I think these exist. They are not so complicated, we require only good will.
  • Today’s world is based on great principles: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and untouchable borders. And as far as I understand the situation, the United States is the guardian of these principles. If the nations of the world ever for a second assume that the world powers, and first of all the United States, are going to sacrifice the interest of one nation for other interests, it’s going to be the end of the world order.
  • The trip from Kyiv to Jerusalem was short, but the path to Ukrainian independence, which allowed for the visit of a Ukrainian President to Israel, was long and hard. In Israel it is said sometimes "for the first time in a thousand years". This expression also applies to our circumstances. For the first time, an official Ukrainian delegation is visiting Israel. The fates of the two nations share much in common. For many generations the possibility of establishing an independent nation was denied from both of them. Both of them experienced forced assimilation, were scattered in many other nations in the world, suffered troubles in the 20th century, for example the "artificial hunger" of 1933, oppression at the hands of the Stalin regime, World War Two; troubles whose scope allow a comparison with the Jewish Holocaust.
  • In December 1991, the Ukrainian nation, numbering 52 million people, did not agree to lose its uniqueness. It chose the path of independence. Our nation voted for an independent Ukraine as a free democratic society based on the respect for human rights, freedoms and values. Our nation voted for a country that promised equal rights for all ethnic and national groups and which will allow the free development of their national heritage and religion. Our nation voted for peace, tranquility and stability in our land. That is what we are striving for today, despite many difficulties, chief amongst them a deep and dangerous economic crisis that has hit all of the territories of the former Soviet Union.
  • I am convinced that we all need to recognize the importance of the changes that humanity is encountering on the edge of the 21st century. We need to insert corrections in our policies. Perhaps it is appropriate to remember the active positive role of the UN in the '60s on the matter of freeing nations from colonialism. The time has come to pay special attention to the building of a global security system in the context of the UN that will allow for assistance to young countries to protect them from aggression on the part of those who will not forfeit their colonial ambitions.
  • Ukraine does not only promise equal rights to all nations within it, but it also promises its protection to the preservation of ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions and for allowing good conditions for their free development. Every ethnic group in Ukraine lives according to its own internal laws, its tradition and leaders and every one of them will not be restricted to borders of a national minority, but all of them will unite to one political organization with the name –the Ukrainian nation. This increases our strength and will help us to continue the social processes.
  • The new balance of forces on the political map of the world clearly indicates the need to create a global security system which would be based on entirely new principles. We understand that the complicated processes of international security and peace are intertwined and cannot permit gaps and vacuum to exist in this or that part of the world, especially on the European Continent.
  • The entire experience of creating new international ties after the collapse of totalitarianism and the end of the long cold war period shows that the major issue now is to establish effective cooperation in the interests of universal, peaceful future, and to ensure such international conditions which would allow to find an optimal compromise of state, national, and general human interests.
  • The problem of nuclear weapons proliferation – one of the most pressing problem of our time – causes alarm both among statesmen and world public. This problem focuses attention of Ukraine’s political leadership and this country’s Parliament. The possibility of increase in number of nuclear weapon states and corresponding increase of the risk of unauthorized use of these weapons or of their use in regional conflicts constitute a real threat to international peace and security.

Quotes about Kravchuk

  • Kravchuk steered Ukraine through difficult years. Europe's second-largest country, with a population of around 52 million, was forced to re-learn everything. It had no experience of being an independent state. Its transition from a planned to a market economy, and from party dictatorship to democracy, was a painful one. Millions of Ukrainians found themselves living in poverty. The shopping cart that came to symbolize the deprivations of the period was nicknamed a "kravchuchka." But Ukraine survived — and Kravchuk should take some of the credit. For all his faults, as president he succeeded in maintaining peace and political stability in the country. This was quite an achievement at a time when most of the other former Soviet republics were riven by civil war.
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