Free UkraineSource: John Atkinson
CommentsFormal Name: Free Ukrainian Confederation
Flag: Light blue with gold stylized trident
Description: Loose association of semi-autonomous domed cities scattered throughout the twilight zone of Wolf 424's innermost planet. Ruling body is a council formed by one representative from each city as well as several "Free Trader's Associations" The executive consists of a Prince, elected by the Council from the eligible members of the ruling family. The power of the Prince is variable, ranging from the Council's mouthpiece (Current Prince, Prince Vladimir II) to absolute ruler (Nikki the Mad 2123-2124) and is a function of internal power politics.
History: First settled in 2082 as a dumping ground for Ukrainians unwilling to accept either Chinese or a Russian master1. Declared independence in 2097. The inevitable attempt at reconquest was unprepared for the challenges of fighting on an uninhabitable planet, and included primarily Rifle Divisions raised in rural Chine and India, who's untrained conscripts died in droves in the face of ingenious and fanatical resistance. The survivors were permitted to withdraw after a year, however it is significant to note that the Free Ukrainian War Museum in New Kiev contains the colors of a Rifle Division and of a Guards Interface Regiment.
However, nations born in blood frequently have difficulty setting up a stable civil peacetime government. The newly renamed Free Ukraine was no exception, with no less then seven governments being established in the next four years. Eventually stability returned in the form of Vladimir the Great, first Prince of New Kiev. He smashed all his rivals thoroughly enough to remove their threat, then handed most of the power he had gained over to the individual domes. He is also the originator of the policy of strict neutrality, some of his opponents having been backed by various off-world factions.
It is also to the time of Vladimir the Great that New Kiev Downport became a Freeport, pumping exceptional amounts of money into the local economy. Eventually this developed into the New Kiev of holodrama, a smuggler's haven and den of pirates attracted for the same reason the small traders of the first decade of this century were. Eventually this became semi-formalized as Free Trader Associations, mutual protection societies of the freebooters and smugglers. They operate for the benefit of their members -- reliable parts and repair techs, places to send your crew on shore leave where no one will knife them, etc. They also give the pirates and smugglers a foothold into the politics of Free Ukraine itself.
Another of Vladimir's accomplishments was the treaty with the Scandinavian Federation. A mere five years after imposing his rule over every inhabitant of Free Ukraine, Vladimir concluded this agreement, which provided technical assistance to aid Free Ukraine in developing it's moderately extensive mineral resources in exchange for accommodation of immigration from Scandinavian Federation. By now enough Scandinavians have immigrated that Free Ukraine is formally bilingual, Ukrainian and Swedish. A pidgin is developing, known to locals as Ukrainavian.
The Free Ukrainian reputation as mercenaries dates from a later period. It is believed the first hiring of Free Ukrainian ground troops came in 2122, as the fledgling New Roman Empire was scraping troops together from any and all sources to counter the Islamic Federation offensive in the New Sicily system (Ross 128). A brigade was contracted for and embarked on the 12th of June. Eventually 9 brigades of Free Ukrainians fought alongside the New Romans, typically being used for extended fights where attrition would decide the day rather than brilliant maneuver. The Free Ukrainians acquired a reputation as tenacious fighters with mediocre equipment and less-than-inspired leadership at the battalion/brigade level. Their limited armor was written off as practically worthless. However, their bravery and skill at small-unit tactics, as well as their utter lack of interest in the convolutions of Imperial politics, brought them to the attention of the Emperor Basil III who decided to reform the Varangian Guard. (http://www.angelfire.com/va/basileus/GUARD.htm)
The NRE remained on good terms with the Free Ukrainians until the early 2130s, when increasing piracy against NRE-flagged vessels forced Imperial action. Having determined a number of these ships were operating out of the Free Kiev Downport and other installations in the Free Ukraine system, the NRE dispatched a Task Force to carry out a demonstration. The raid destroyed 14 ships, 9 of which were confirmed pirates (the remainder are covered by Admiral Kyrites' comment that anything which squawks like a medium freighter but which charges a light cruiser isn't what it seems.), as well as inflicting severe damage on a number of facilities in orbit and on the ground. After this, the Free Ukrainians refrained from targeting NRE ships and the cordial relationship was resumed.
Internal Politics: The Council fights with the Prince, the Prince fights with the cities, The Cities fight among themselves, the Free Traders Associations play all sides off the middle. And some of the players don't play nice.
Ecomonic notes: Free Ukraine's major economic activity is, in fact, agricultural. Hydroponic farms employ the majority of the work force. As a result, Free Ukraine actually exports a small agricultural surplus, primarily selling it to ships which call and wish to replenish their fresh food stores. Mining of various rare metals2 is also fairly significant, employing a large number, primarily Swedes. But the biggest source of outside hard currency comes from the position of the planet and itís attitude towards bureaucracy. Ships meet here to buy, sell, and trade, and the lack of regulations makes it easy to enforce the taxes and fees that are imposed. Free Ukraine also charges a fee for registering a ship here, but in return does conduct more than the most cursory inspections.
Armed Forces: Each city operates approximately a brigade's worth of troops with a minimum of heavy equipment, intended to defend the domes. The Prince also has five brigades of troops outfitted identically to a Volunteer Brigade (http://www.angelfire.com/va/basileus/Allies.html). The official Navy is a mere twelve cruisers and 21 destroyers, but a force six or seven times that size could be assembled from freebooters in a few months. Volunteer Brigades are also formed by individuals, organizations, or cities and rented out as cheap but effective mechanized infantry. Volunteer Brigades are not pemitted to wear uniforms, or assemble in public until they are signed on to a contract. This measure is observed more in the breach than in the honoring, and was originally intended to prevent them from becoming another center of power.
Editorial Notes In the NREverse, the Chinese annexation of Russia was extremely ugly, with tactical nuclear weapons being employed towards the end. The Ukraine was partitioned between the ESU and the Romanov Hegemony. Ukrainian partisans remained active in the ESU sectors of the Ukraine until 2090 when mass deportations to New Ukraine and the subsequent settlement of Han Chinese in the Eurasian Republic of Ukraine deprived them of their support networks. This strategy was combined with draconian measures along the Partion Line.
 A relative term where gold has approximately the same market value as tin, thanks to asteroid mining.
For More Informationhttp://www.angelfire.com/va/basileus
Author and ContributorsAuthor: John Atkinson
Changed: Saturday, 30-Jul-2011 11:55:36 EDT