Primary Documents - Peace Treaty Between Ukraine and Central Powers, 9 February 1918

Central Powers and Ukrainian delegates at Brest-Litovsk, 1918 Reproduced below is the text of the peace treaty agreed between the Ukraine and the Central Powers on 9 February 1918.  Punitive in economic terms so far as the Ukraine was concerned, it nevertheless obliged Bolshevik Russia to reluctantly accept Ukrainian independence.

With the disintegration of the Russian monarchy in February 1917 nationalist Ukrainian leaders (led by Vinichenko) moved swiftly to seek a form of independence within the Russian union, a desire granted by the Provisional Government in July 1917.  With the success of the Bolshevik October Revolution of the same year however, the Ukrainians found themselves accused of essentially aiding and abetting anti-Bolshevik forces within Russia.

Ukrainian President Vinichenko consequently issued a proclamation of autonomy on 20 November 1917 in response to the unrest within Russia.  He reiterated the Ukraine's desire to remain autonomous within a wider Russian union - to no avail.  The following month, December 1917, brought the Ukraine into civil war against Bolshevik forces (click here to read Lenin's ultimatum on the subject).

Ultimately the Ukrainians sought protection from the Germans with whom they negotiated the peace treaty below (click here to read Vinichenko's plea for a seat at the peace conference at Brest-Litovsk).  Exacting a heavy economic price for their support the Germans duly took the Ukrainians' side and obliged the Bolsheviks to accept an autonomous Ukraine.  The Ukraine had earlier declared independence on 22 January 1918.

Click here to read the reaction of the Chairman of the Brest-Litovsk Conference, Richard von Kühlmann, to news of the peace treaty.  Click here to read the response by Alexander Severyuk - speaking for the Ukraine - to von Kühlmann's address.  Click here to read the reaction of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Karl I.

Peace Treaty Between the Central Powers and the Ukraine, 9 February 1918 (Subsequently Accepted by Russia)

Whereas, the Ukrainian People has, in the course of the present world war, declared its independence, and has expressed the desire to establish a state of peace between the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Powers at present at war with Russia, the Governments of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey have resolved to conclude a Treaty of Peace with the Government of the Ukrainian People's Republic; they wish in this way to take the first step towards a lasting world peace, honourable for all parties, which shall not only put an end to the horrors of war, but shall also conduce to the restoration of friendly relations between the peoples in the political, legal, economic, and intellectual spheres.

To this end the Plenipotentiaries of the above-mentioned Governments have met together at Brest-Litovsk for the inception of peace negotiations, and have agreed upon the following points:


Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey of the one part, and the Ukrainian People's Republic of the other part, declare that the state of war between them is at an end.  The contracting parties are resolved henceforth to live in peace and amity with one another.


(1) As between Austria-Hungary of the one part, and the Ukrainian People's Republic of the other part, in so far as these two Powers border upon one another, the frontiers which existed between the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Russia prior to the outbreak of the present war will be preserved.

(2) Further north, the frontier of the Ukrainian People's Republic, starting at Tarnograd, will in general follow the line Bilgoray, Szczebrzeszyn, Krasnostav, Pugashov, Radzin, Miedzyzheche, Sarnaki, Melnik, Vysokie-Litovsk, Kameniec-Litovsk, Prujany, and Vygonovsk Lake.  This frontier will be delimited in detail by a mixed commission, according to the ethnographical conditions and after taking the wishes of the inhabitants into consideration.

(3) In the event of the Ukrainian People's Republic having boundaries coterminous with those of another of the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance, special agreements may be come to thereupon at a later date.


The evacuation of the occupied territories shall begin immediately after the ratification of the present Treaty of Peace.

The manner of carrying out the evacuation and the transfer of the evacuated territories shall be determined by the Plenipotentiaries of the interested parties.


Diplomatic and consular relations between the contracting parties shall commence immediately after the ratification of the Treaty of Peace.

Provision for the admission of consuls on the widest scale possible on both sides is held over for special agreements.


The contracting parties mutually renounce repayment of their war costs, that is to say, their State expenditure for the prosecution of the war, as well as payment for war damages, that is to say, damages sustained by them and their nationals in the war areas through military measures, including all requisitions made in enemy territory.


Prisoners of war of both parties shall he permitted to return home, in so far as they do not desire, with the approval of the State in whose territory they shall be, to remain within its territories or to proceed to another country.  Questions connected with this will be dealt with in the separate treaties provided for in Article VIII.


It has been agreed as follows with regard to economic relations between the contracting parties, viz.:

The contracting parties mutually undertake to enter into economic relations without delay and to organize the exchange of goods on the basis of the following stipulations [here follow details which by a supplementary commercial treaty placed the Ukraine under German control]:


The establishing of public and private legal relations, the exchange of prisoners of war and interned civilians, the amnesty question, as well as the question of the treatment of merchant shipping in the enemy's hands, shall be settled by means of separate Treaties with the Ukrainian People's Republic, which shall form an essential part of the present Treaty of Peace, and, as far as practicable, come into force simultaneously therewith.


The agreements come to in this Treaty of Peace shall form an indivisible whole.


For the interpretation of this Treaty, the German and Ukrainian text shall be authoritative for relations between Germany and the Ukraine; the German, Hungarian, and Ukrainian text for relations between Austria-Hungary and the Ukraine; the Bulgarian and Ukrainian text for relations between Bulgaria and the Ukraine; and the Turkish and Ukrainian text for relations between Turkey and the Ukraine.


The present Treaty of Peace shall be ratified.  The ratifications shall be exchanged in Vienna at the earliest possible moment.

The Treaty of Peace shall come into force on its ratification, in so far as no stipulation to the contrary is contained therein.

In witness whereof the Plenipotentiaries have set their hands and seals to the present Treaty.

Executed in quintuplicate at Brest-Litovsk on the 9th day of February, 1918. [Here follow signatures.]

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

In slang a "beetle" was a landing craft for 200 men.

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Primary Docs