In Moscow’s Crosshairs: The History of Ukraine

Has “modern Ukraine been created entirely by Russia”, as Putin claims? The documentary provides the historical background to the current invasion by Russian troops and traces Ukraine’s path to independence.

Even the tsars took rigorous action against any manifestation of a separate Ukrainian identity. At first, the declaration of independence in 1918 was bloodily fought by the Bolsheviks, and Kiev was occupied by the Red Army. Anyone who still spoke Ukrainian in public risked being killed.

Then Ukraine was allowed to join the Soviet Union as a republic – as a supplier of grain and later as a weapons manufacturer. Repression from Moscow, a devastating famine, the invasion of the Wehrmacht in 1941 and the liberation of Kiev by the Red Army at the end of 1943 followed. After the Second World War, Ukraine was allocated new parts of the country, most recently the Crimea. It was not until the rise of Michael Gorbachev that separatist movements formed again in Ukraine, followed by the declaration of independence after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Putin still regards this development as the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century. He accuses the leadership in Moscow at the time of having “the collapse of historic Russia, the USSR, on their conscience”. Since 2014, a proxy war between the Western-oriented part of the country and the Russia-affiliated east has been waged in Ukraine, including by force of arms.

Available for French and Spanish Speaking territories only


  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 45 mins
  • Production: Spiegel TV
  • Director: Michael Kloft and Andreas Hancke
  • Available Versions: ENG, GER
  • Country of production: Germany