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This sentence was created for the sole purpose of practice and has nothing to do with politics, nor were its intentions at all political. Due to the fact that the majority of the comments made in this thread have had nothing to do with learning Russian, I have locked this discussion.
Would 'but' be an appropriate translation? I understand that an English speaker is not likely to say that, but logically speaking, 'but' and 'and' are actually same when used exactly as you describe it: when showing a contrast. (And by 'logically speaking' I mean in actual mathematical logic).
The pronoun "the" should not be used in front of Ukraine. It is simply Ukraine. When Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union, it was known as "the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic", and this was often shortened to just "the Ukraine". After declaring their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, this is no longer correct, even though it is still commonly used by many people who should know better, including politicians and news outlets.
I think the "the" usage might go back even further than that, to when Ukraine was just a geographical region within the Russian Empire. Sub-national regions that are purely geographic or cultural and without political status occasionally receive a definite article in English - compare "the Dordogne", "the Vendée", "the Camargue", "the Palatinate", "the Peloponnese".
I would add that if you've heard some other form, it was in a different case: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%A0%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%8F#Proper_noun_2