The Fourth Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council (Ukrainian: Четвертий Універсал Української Центральної Ради, romanized: Chetvertyi Universal Ukrainskoi Tsentralnoi Rady) is a state-political act, that declared full state independence of Ukrainian People’s Republic. It was adopted by the Little Council (Committee) of the Ukrainian Central Council in Kyiv on 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1918. Its appearance, in particular, was preceded by the start of peace negotiations of Ukrainian People’s Republic with the Central powers in Brest-Litovsk (today in Brest, Belarus).
By the document it was noted that “from now on Ukrainian People’s Republic is becoming self-existing, from no one dependent, free, sovereign state of Ukrainian people” and has been announced about the desire for peaceful coexistence with all neighboring states that do not have right to intervene in its internal affairs. With this Universal there was confirmed the authority of state power of the Ukrainian Central Council until convocation of the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly. The General Secretariat of the Ukrainian Central Council as its executive office was transformed in Council of People’s Ministers of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, which was entrusted with the task to continue negotiations with the Central powers as fully independent and conclude a peace treaty.
The Universal contained appeals to the government and citizens of Ukraine to combat Bolsheviks and other “adversaries” who ravage and wreak havoc in the land. There have been declared the complete dissolution of the regular army and creation in its place a people’s militia.
In economical sphere the task was set to transfer industrial enterprises to a peaceful state, anticipated establishment of state control over banks, the most important branches of trade, export-import, state monopoly on metal, coal and other strategic type of products. It was reported about already developed land law which will convey the land to the labor peasantry without compensation on the grounds of cancellation of private property and socialization before the beginning of the spring field work.
By the document it has been also confirmed all public liberties declared in the Third Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council, scheduled re-election to the people’s councils, all citizens have been called to treat the elections to the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly with attention.
The Fourth Universal of the Ukrainian Central Council clearly defined the creation of a sovereign country as the ultimate goal of all Ukrainians.
At about the same time on 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1918 it was announced that Great Britain recognized the Ukrainian People’s Republic. The former British council-general for the South Russia in Odesa John Picton Bagge who was appointed as temporary chargé d’affaires arrived to Kyiv. He met with the General Secretary of International Affairs of Ukraine Oleksander Shulhyn.