A Ukrainian flag flies above Kyiv, Ukraine, on August 22, 2020. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

A Ukrainian flag flies above Kyiv, Ukraine, on August 22, 2020. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

An outdoor water spray cools passerby on a hot day in Kyiv, Ukraine, in June 2020. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

An outdoor water spray cools passerby on a hot day in Kyiv, Ukraine, in June 2020. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

Farmers work in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine. (Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via AP)

Farmers work in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine. (Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via AP)

Ukrainians prepare varenyky (stuffed dumplings, also known as “heaven on a plate”). (AP/Bernat Armangue)

Ukrainians prepare varenyky (stuffed dumplings, also known as “heaven on a plate”). (AP/Bernat Armangue)

Paska is Ukrainian Easter bread. The word “Paska” means Easter.

Paska is Ukrainian Easter bread. The word “Paska” means Easter.

Europe’s Breadbasket

Posted: May 1, 2022

Why does Russia want Ukraine so badly? Easy. Ukraine is an absolute treasure.

We wouldn’t recommend visiting Ukraine right now. But let’s take a (very) long distance tour of “the breadbasket of Europe.”

  • Big . . . and Tiny. Ukraine is the biggest country in Europe besides Russia. But it’s still smaller than Texas.
     
  • Rich black soil. Some of the most fertile land in the world runs through the middle of Ukraine. This soil grows sugar beets and wheat. Ukraine also produces: barley, corn, oats, rye, millet, buckwheat, rice, potatoes, sunflower seeds for oil, tomatoes, peppers, melons, and more.
     
  • From wildcats to hamsters. Ukraine has more than 350 species of birds. Roam around Ukraine’s countryside and you may also spot wolves, wildcats, roe deer, wild pigs, mouflons (wild sheep), hamsters, and storks.
     
  • New style. Ukraine isn’t part of the freedom-squashing Soviet Union anymore, and it shows. Expensive stores, art galleries, and cafés now pepper the capital city Kyiv (KE-EV).
     
  • Just for fun. Ukrainian cities are built for walking. People stroll on wide sidewalks and picnic in parks. They attend the ballet or opera. Ukrainians also sing traditional songs, craft folk art from carved wood, and embroider.
     
  • Yummm. Ukrainians on the run are probably already homesick for some traditional foods: paska (Easter bread), borscht (beet soup), and varenyky (stuffed dumplings).
     
  • Location. Ukraine lies between Russia and the rest of Europe. It also has a long coastline on the Black Sea—and several port cities which are valuable for trade.

 

Quick Facts:

Major people groups. Ukrainian and Russian, plus Romanian, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar

Language. Mostly Ukrainian—a language written with an alphabet called Cyrillic           

Religion. Mostly Eastern Orthodox Christianity