Which countries were the first to recognize Ukraine's independence: a tour through history

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Poland and Canada were the first to recognize the newly created Ukraine

On this day in 1991, the Act of Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine and its secession from the USSR was adopted. From this moment began the countdown of the history of the modern Ukrainian state. Then followed the referendum on December 1 and a number of other formalities.

Almost immediately after that, Kyiv began to receive reports about the official recognition of the newly created independent country by the states of the world. OBOZREVATEL tells how it was.


Our Western neighbors are proud of the fact that they were the first to recognize Ukraine at the state level. This happened on December 2, right after the referendum on support for independence.

According to Piotr Zochowski, an official of the Polish Foreign Ministry at the time, this was not an accident. Warsaw was closely following the referendum and waiting for the moment to welcome the historic decision of the Ukrainian people. Mr. Zochowski himself was in Kyiv with a government delegation on the day of the referendum, observing the voting process.

The Poles were eager to overtake Canada and be the first to congratulate Ukraine on the approval of its status as an independent state. Therefore, when officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government of the country were typing the text of the congratulatory note in the consulate in Kyiv, they made several spelling mistakes in a hurry. However, they still managed to be the first to get to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and hand him this imperfect but therefore even more emotional document. Poland's representatives achieved their goal - they overtook the Canadians.

Which countries were the first to recognize Ukraine's independence: a tour through history

Who else immediately congratulated Ukraine

In addition to Poland and Canada, Hungary and Russia were among the first to send congratulatory telegrams to Kyiv. The rest of the Western world was in no hurry to recognize Ukraine's independence. The authorities of these countries were concerned that the collapse of the USSR could have catastrophic consequences. However, this did not happen, so gradually recognition came from all capitals and all corners of the world.

In the first weeks Ukraine was recognized by such countries of the former socialist camp as Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Czechoslovakia. Sweden, Israel and Switzerland also did not hesitate. The United States sent documents to Kiev on December 25, 1991. Following the superpower, other influential international players - Germany, France and Great Britain - began to take similar steps. Already by the end of January 1992, the official Kyiv was recognized by more than 90 countries of the world. Among them were all EU and NATO states.

Ukraine's integration into the world community

After the first formalities were resolved, the process of establishing bilateral relations and signing interstate agreements by Kyiv began. Ukraine also joined various international organizations.

A separate procedure for joining the UN was not needed - Ukraine, as a Soviet republic, was considered one of the founders of the organization, but now it has just changed its status. Here is an incomplete chronology of other important events:

  • April 1992 - beginning of cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;
  • September 1992 - beginning of cooperation with the International Monetary Fund;
  • January 1, 1995 - Ukraine becomes a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE);
  • 1996 - joins the Council of Europe;
  • May 2008 - Ukraine is admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  • September 2014. - Ukraine and the European Union ratify the Association Agreement with the EU signed a few months earlier;
  • June 2017 - the law on visa-free travel with the EU enters into force;
  • June 23, 2022 - already after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukraine acquired the status of a candidate country for EU membership.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL explained how many years of independent Ukraine and what anniversary the state celebrates in 2023.

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