Western Ukraine is one of several short-lived political entities in Eastern Europe whose stamps and history are often confusing to collectors. Ukrainians living in the provinces of Galicia and Bukovina declared their independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire on November 1, 1918 and established the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR). Soon afterwards, the Polish population of Lviv, the capital city, rose up against Ukrainian rule. On December 1, 1918 the ZUNR agreed to unite with the remainder of Ukraine, which had declared its independence from Russia. However, by July 1919 Polish forces had occupied most of Western Ukraine and held it until World War II, with League of Nations sanction.
Leftover Austrian stamps circulated widely in Western Ukraine. Nearly all of the stamps issued by the ZUNR were overprints on Austrian or Bosnian stamps. The stamps issued by Polish and Romanian occupation forces were also overprints on Austrian stamps. Dr. Ingert Kuzych worked with the editors of the Scott Catalog to revise and expand their listings for Ukraine as well as Western Ukraine. His latest book, A Comprehensive Catalog of Western Ukrainian Postage Stamps, 1918-1919, greatly expands upon the Scott Catalog listings with overprint varieties, valuations on cover, printing history, plus a little bit of general history. Dr. Kuzych edited the Ukrainian Philatelist for eleven years and has published numerous books and articles on Ukrainian philately. His newest book is available from the Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society bookstore.