Towards the end of the First World War during the collapse of big empires Romania found itself in the center of ethno-unifying processes. Skillfully balancing between military-political blocs, it used political and international weakness of Ukraine and took over Ukrainian lands in Bukovyna and Bessarabia.
In December 1917 King Ferdinand ordered Romanian army to prepare for the annexation of Bessarabia. The reason for this was the request of the State National Council to Romanian government to send troops in order to protect people from the Bolsheviks’ influence. On January 13th, 1918, Romanian troops commended by the General Bruchanu occupied Bessarabia, in spite of the active resistance of the Ukrainian people and an official protest of Dmytro Doroshenko - the Minister of Foreign Affairs of UPR. On April 9th, 1918, the State National Council of Bessarabia announced the annexation of the region to Romania. The final annexation of Bessarabia was finished by the Romanian government in the end of November 1918. The reaction of Ukrainians to the usurpation of Bessarabia by Romania was the Khotyn Uprising - an organized armed rebellion of people from Khotyn, Byeltsi, and Soroky provinces in January-February 1919. The power was assumed by a newly created 5-member Khotyn Directory (head – M.Liskun, secretary – L.Tokan), which oriented toward the UPR Directorate. But political situation didn’t allow the UPR’s government to provide the rebels with military assistance. After heavy fighting, Romanian army re-took control of the region on February 1, 1919. About 4000 fighters together with 50 000 refugees were forced to cross into Ukraine (to Podillya) through the Dniester river. The plight of those who remained was miserable.
Annexation of the North Bukovyna to Romania was a part of the realization of a large-scale plan to create a “Grand Romania”. After consultations with Romanian National Council of Bukobyna the Romanian authorities on November 8th, 1918, ordered the 8th infantry division to be ready for action to seize the Ukrainian territory. Romanian troopes commanded by Ya.Zadika took over Hlyboka, and on November 11th they reached Chernivtsi. According to the royal decree signed on January 2nd, 1919, Bukovyna was annexed to Romania.
Violent terror , which accompanied the usurpation of Bukovyna in November 1918, was “legalized” by martial law that was imposed in January 1919 and lasted till 1928. It was imposed again in the end of the 1930s. Having proclaimed Ukrainians as “ukranized Romanians”, Bucharest used all possible methods to make Ukrainians believe in their Romanian origin. On the seized territory the government imposed all kinds of prohibitions on the freedom of speech and print, and it also limited travelling from one place to another. Ukrainian territory was divided between the Romanian army officers, and full-scale Romaniazation of the region began: out of 168 Ukrainian schools of Bukovyna almost two-thirds became Romanian during the first two years of occupation, and in 1924 not a single one of Ukrainian schools of the region was left. In the same way Romaniazation of Ukrainian schools and gymnasiums was conducted. Ukrainian family names, names of towns and cities were changed to sound not Ukrainian, but Romanian. The special decree of the Ministry of Education signed on July 24th, 1924, envisaged that “citizens of Romanian origin, who lost their mother tongue, should send their kids to solely Romanian public or private schools”. Ukrainian cultural-educational organizations and societies, publishing houses, media suffered from constant oppression and persecution. Almost all management of the Orthodox Ecclesiastical province was replaced, the Ukrainian language was liquidated from the theological department of the Chernivtsi University. People who weren’t loyal to the government were deprived of their civil rights. Services of counter-propaganda were created in regional and district centers, which consisted of the security, finance and culture sections. Their management was comprised of the representatives of military administration, gendarmerie, prefecture, police, inspection of labor and church, who kept the population under total control.