The Ukrainian Peoples’ Republic was established on 20 November 1917 in the Third Universal of the Central Rada, whose president was Mykhailo Hrushevsky. The Central Rada, which began as a Ukrainian umbrella organization that united political, cultural and professional organizations, became, in April 1917 the revolutionary parliament that presided over the movement for Ukrainian independence.

The Ukrainian Peoples’ Republic was proclaimed after the fall of the tsarist empire and the seizure power by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The UNR’s borders correspond with contemporary Ukraine’s eastern and northern borders, and stretched to the river Buh (Bug) in the west. Halychyna was not incorporated into the UNR.

The Ukrainian Peoples’ Republic entered a federation with Russia, until 22 January 1918, when, in the Fourth Universal issued by the Central Rada, the Ukrainian Peoples’ Republic was declared to be a fully independent state. From 29 April 1918 to 14 December 1918, the UNR was governed by the Hetmanate, under Hetman Skoropadsky; at this time the UNR was called the Ukrainian State. In December 1918 the name UNR was restored. UNR armies had to fight German and Austro-Hungarian forces in the west as well as the Red Army and the White (tsarist) armies in the east.

Despite demands by representatives of the UNR at the Versailles Conference, which produced the Versailles Treaty that ended WWI that the UNR be recognized as an independent European state, Western allied powers refused to support Ukrainian independence. As a result the armies of the UNR had to fight invasion from the Red and White armies from the east.

The UNR existed on Ukrainian territory until 1920, when its armies finally succumbed to the invading forces. The UNR government went into exile, first in Poland, and then, after the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939, in France. In 1947 the Ukrainian National Council was established as the government-in-exile of Ukraine by Ukrainian émigré political parties, and continued its activity until the declaration of an independent Ukraine in 1991.