Ukrainian Insurgent Army

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainian: Українська повстанська армія, УПА, Ukrayins'ka Povstans'ka Armiya, abbreviated UPA) was a Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and later partisan formation.[1] During World War II, it was engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Soviet Union, the Polish Underground State, Communist Poland, and Nazi Germany.[2][3][4] It was established by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The insurgent army arose out of separate militant formations of the Organization of Ukrainian NationalistsBandera faction (the OUN-B), other militant national-patriotic formations, mobilization of local populations and others.[5] The political leadership of the army belonged to the Organization of Ukrainian NationalistsBandera.[5] Its official date of creation is 14 October 1942,[6] day of the Intercession of the Theotokos feast. The Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army at the period from December 1941 untl July 1943 has the same name (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA).[7]

Ukrainian Insurgent Army
Українська повстанська армія
LeadersVasyl Ivakhiv
Dmytro Klyachkivsky
Roman Shukhevych
Vasyl Kuk
Dates of operation14 October 1942 – 1949 (active)
1949–1956 (localized)
Active regionsVolhynia
IdeologyUkrainian nationalism
Size20,000–200,000 (estimated)
Part ofOrganization of Ukrainian Nationalists

The OUN's stated immediate goal at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union was the re-establishment of a united, independent national state on the territory that would include parts of modern-day Russia, Poland, and Belarus.[8] Violence was accepted as a political tool against foreign as well as domestic enemies of their cause, which was to be achieved by a national revolution led by a dictatorship that would drive out what they considered to be occupying powers and set up a government representing all regions and social groups.[9] The organization began as a resistance group and developed into a guerrilla army.[10] In 1943, the UPA was controlled by the OUN(B),[citation needed] and included people of various political and ideological convictions. Furthermore, it needed the support of the broad masses against both the Germans and the Soviets. Much of the nationalist ideology, including the concept of dictatorship, did not appeal to former Soviet citizens who had experienced the dictatorship of the Communist Party. Hence, a revision of the OUN(B) ideology and political program was imperative. At its Third Extraordinary Grand Assembly on 21–25 August 1943, the OUN(B) condemned "internationalist and fascist national-socialist programs and political concepts" as well as "Russian-Bolshevik communism", and proposed a "system of free peoples and independent states [as] the single best solution to the problem of world order." Its social program did not differ essentially from earlier ones but emphasized a wide range of social services, worker participation in management, a mixed economy, choice of profession and workplace, and free trade unions. The OUN(B) affirmed that it was fighting for freedom of the press, speech, and thought. Its earlier nationality policy was encapsulated in the slogan "Ukraine for Ukrainians"; in 1943, the most extreme elements of it were officially abandoned, although the actual policy of the OUN(B) had not changed significantly, and the UPA undertook ethnic cleansing in 1943.[8]

During its existence, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army fought against the Poles and the Soviets as their primary opponents, although the organization also fought against the Germans starting from February 1943, with many cases of collaboration with the German forces in the fight against Soviet partisan units. From late spring 1944, the UPA and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B (OUN-B)—faced with Soviet advances—also cooperated with German forces against the Soviets and Poles in the hope of creating an independent Ukrainian state.[11] The OUN also played a substantial role in the ethnic cleansing of the Polish population of Volhynia and East Galicia,[12][13][14][15][16] and later preventing the deportation of the Ukrainians in southeastern Poland.[17]

After the end of World War II, the Polish communist army—the People's Army of Poland—fought extensively against the UPA. The UPA remained active and fought against the People's Republic of Poland until 1947, and against the Soviet Union until 1949. It was particularly strong in the Carpathian Mountains, the entirety of Galicia and in Volhynia—in modern Western Ukraine. By the late 1940s, the mortality rate for Soviet troops fighting Ukrainian insurgents in Western Ukraine was higher than the mortality rate for Soviet troops during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.[18][19] Between February 1943 and May 1945, unlike most resistance movements, it had no significant foreign support.[20] Its growth and strength were a reflection of the popularity it enjoyed among the people of Western Ukraine.[21] Outside of western Ukraine, support was not significant, and the majority of the Soviet eastern Ukrainian population considered, and at times still viewed, the OUN/UPA to have been primarily collaborators with the Germans.[22]:180