An agreement signed last week by Ukrainian scholars and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies marks a breakthrough in relations between British universities and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The deal breaks the near-monopoly in Ukrainian studies of the Ukrainian Institute of Harvard University and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in Edmonton, Canada, funded by large Ukrainian expatriate communities.
The smaller and less-affluent Ukrainian community in the United Kingdom lacked the resources to establish a full-scale academic institution. Ukrainian studies in the UK had to wait for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the new interest in the Soviet Union's successor states it provoked.
Links with these countries have focused on study opportunities in the UK, ranging from business studies and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (Kingston University) to the training of future clerics (Oxford University in conjunction with the Keston Institute).
Owing to the Ukraine's economic difficulties, the amount available for Ukrainian studies at SSEES is very modest. The money will fund one or more postgraduate scholarships in Ukrainian studies, with an additional sum for the purchase of Ukrainian newspapers for the SSEES library.
"We are placing great hopes in you for developing a centre of Ukrainian studies here," said Petro Kovonenko, director of the Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev.