Lead book review

The history of Ukraine — from Herodotus to Hitler

Serhii Plokhy's work explains how this vast, once distant steppe between forest and sea is now regarded as ‘the Gates of Europe’

9 January 2016

9:00 AM

9 January 2016

9:00 AM

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine Serhii Plokhy

Allen Lane, pp.395, £25, ISBN: 9780241188088

At the beginning of the historical record, the lands that we now call Ukraine were a reservoir of fantasy. Achilles probably did not sail from a Greek port on the north of the Black Sea up the rapids of the Dnipro River to find his final resting place, as some Greeks once believed. Nor is it likely that Ukraine, or the Pontic steppe as the Greeks had it, was the homeland of the Amazons. That said, it was Herodotus who supplied the south-to-north physical geography that Serhii Plokhy wisely follows: the ports of Crimea and the coast, the rich steppe heartland, and the forests. For Plokhy, the formation of Ukraine is the establishment of a unity among these three zones, and his themes are ‘geography, ecology and culture’.

Greek culture reached Kyiv, a city on the Dnipro where steppe meets forest, in about 1000 AD. Byzantine civilisation extended northward, thanks to an assist from Scandinavians. The Vikings, seeking trade and tribute, were the first to control the northerly forests, but did not master the steppe. After attempts to intimidate Constantin-ople, these Scandinavians, known as the Rus, settled on conversion. Their leaders took the names of local Slavs and married them, and accepted the Church Slavonic invented by Byzantine clerics as the language of their new faith. Yaroslav, the most famous ruler of Rus, is associated with the law codes written in a secularised version of that tongue. His daughter was unhappy as queen of France, whose culture she found ‘revolting’.

When the Mongols arrived from the east in 1240, the lands of Rus were divided into three zones. The westernmost principality, Galicia-Volhynia, would fall under Polish rule. The easternmost, Vladimir-Suzdal, remained a Mongol dependency until 1480, when Ivan the Great broke the ‘Tatar yoke’. His capital was Moscow. The difference between the trajectories of Galicia and Volhynia, today’s western Ukraine, and Muscovy, later the seat of the Russian empire and the USSR, are undeniable. But to concentrate on these two extreme variants is to miss the main story.

Kyiv and most of the territories of Rus, as Plokhy notes, fell to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, another powerful pagan domain from the north. This second southward conquest allowed for a second northward transmission of culture. Kyivan law and its language were adopted by Lithuania, assuring the transmission of a form of Byzantine culture as far north as Vilnius — at the very moment that Byzantium itself fell to the Ottomans. Thanks to Lithuania, the main stream of the history of the lands that we now call Ukraine flowed north and south until the 17th century.

The axis of Ukrainian history turned from south-north to west-east when this classical heritage was challenged by a latinising ‘renaissance’ arriving from westerly Poland. The Polish language slowly gained prestige in Vilnius and subsequently throughout Lithuania. Then a Polish reformation and counter-reformation brought sophisticated disputation to all the lands of Poland and Lithuania, including Rus. At just this moment, in 1569, the territory of Poland-Lithuania was reassigned, such that Rus was split from north to south: roughly speaking, today’s Belarus remained in Lithuania, while today’s Ukraine fell to Poland.

Ukrainian nobles, clerics and peasants faced instead the onslaught of an emerging modern European civilisation. Polish nobles brought, and many Ukrainian nobles adopted, Catholicism, the Polish language and principles of land management needed to transform steppe into plantation. Reformers and counter-reformers turned the principles of disputation against local Orthodoxy. Some Orthodox bishops responded both by generating a union of eastern and western Christianity at Brest in 1596; this led to the Greek Catholic faith that is dominant in western Ukraine today. Others adopted western methods of argumentation and education. The Kyiv Academy, Orthodox, Latin, and baroque, was the eastern outpost of university education.

This Polish push from the west gave rise to a rebellion that created an opening for Muscovite power in the east. Plokhy is at his best when describing the Ukrainian Cossacks, free men of what remained of the untamed steppe. Mainly concerned to secure legal status in Poland, they roused the peasants through religious and social appeals. Having failed to secure acceptable alliances with the Ottoman empire, their preferred ally, the Cossacks turned to Muscovy in 1654. The attack of the Muscovite armies on Poland dug the east-west channel of influence from the other side. A truce in 1667 left western Ukraine in Poland-Lithuania and eastern Ukraine and Kyiv in Muscovy. By now the term ‘Ukraine’ was in use for the lands on both sides.

Russia itself arose from this clash. The rulers of Muscovy, like the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, had styled themselves the successors of Rus. But when its commanders encountered the Cossacks in 1654, they met a foreign world. The two sides needed translators. The Cossacks assumed, incorrectly, that they could negotiate with tsars as with Polish kings. In fact, the defeat of Poland was a prelude to the subordination of the Cossacks themselves. The Orthodox theologians of the Kyiv Academy offered themselves to their new ruler, the tsar, and brought ideology to Moscow. It was in their interest to claim that Kyiv and Moscow were part of the same historical entity, since this justified their position as its ideologists. Thus the origins of a ‘Russian’ empire, declared by Tsar Peter I in 1721.

As the Russian empire joined with the Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns in partitioning Poland-Lithuania in 1772, it was beginning a process that would bring most of the Ukrainian lands under a single ruler. Even as it was dividing Poland, Russia drove the Ottomans from the Black Sea coast and the Crimean Peninsula. Forest, steppe and coast would be united in the 19th century by railways, so the crops grown on the steppe could be sold on world markets. As elsewhere, globalisation was accompanied by romantic nationalism, which began in Ukraine in and around the university at Kharkiv. Russian rulers could not at first decide whether Ukrainian patriotism was favourable or detrimental to their own interests. When they decided upon the latter and banned the Ukrainian language, important writers moved to Habsburg Galicia, the one region of ancient Rus now beyond the Russian empire.

In the late 19th century the industrialisation of what is now southeastern Ukraine, the Donets basin (Donbas), was undertaken by a Welsh industrialist, John Hughes. The industrial town founded by Hughes is today known as Donetsk. The confusion between what was Russian and what was Ukrainian was natural in this region, where poor Russian peasants migrated to work in cities surrounded by Ukrainian peasants. After 1917, Soviets inherited the dual processes of nationalisation and modernisation. Their first idea was to support Ukrainian culture, on the logic that Ukrainian national consolidation could support socialist construction. Yet when the collectivisation of agriculture brought famine rather then plenty, Stalin blamed the Ukrainians for the failure of his own policy and directed the resulting starvation to the Ukrainian republic. Meanwhile, Hitler’s fantasy was to reverse Soviet industrialisation and transform Ukraine into a German breadbasket. The second world war was thus fought for, and largely in, Ukraine. Between the onset of Stalin’s political famine in 1932 and the departure of German troops in 1944, Ukraine was the most dangerous place in the world.

Soviet victory extended Ukrainian territory to the west, taking from Poland the remainder of the territorial inheritance of Rus — today’s western Ukraine. When the Crimean Peninsula was transferred from the Russian republic of the Soviet Union to Soviet Ukraine in 1954, this was a concession to geography and ecology. From Russia, Crimea is an island. From Ukraine, Crimea is a peninsula. Soviet rulers concluded that Ukrainian peasants would better farm Crimea than Russian ones, and irrigated the Crimean countryside with water from the Dnipro. In this way the territorial unification of Soviet Ukraine was completed.

The national idea in postwar Soviet Ukraine, as Plokhy persuasively conveys, took two pregnant forms. There were those who rejected the Soviet system as such, the guerrilla fighters and the human rights activists. And then there were the Ukrainian communists, who took pride in the industry of the southeast. The Soviet leaders who arose from the linguistically mixed Ukrainian southeast, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, maintained patron-client relationships that were the cement of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev managed to offend both groups, and brought them together. When the time came in 1991, more than 90 per cent of the inhabitants of Ukraine, including a majority in the Donbas and Crimea, voted for independence.

In a relatively brief history such as this one, certain major themes will escape. A reader seeking a fair account of the ethnic cleansing of Poles from Volhynia by Ukrainian nationalists will be disappointed, as will one seeking a social history of Jewish life and death in Ukraine. The events of the second world war are narrated at speed, and without connection to the larger argument. Nevertheless, the basic point is made. The story of Ukraine’s emergence, as territory and society, has much more to do with unity, first economic and then political, of the three belts of territory already identified by Herodotus. This interpretation leaves room for debate about just when a Ukrainian nation arose. The national question here is one among others, nicely couched in historical detail, which, like that journey of Achilles, bridges the known and the unknown.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £20, Tel: 08430 600033. Timothy Snyder is the Housum professor of history at Yale and the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.

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Show comments
  • Ben Latimore

    This account of Ukrainian history misses claim by some Ukrainian historians that proto-Ukrainians dug out the Black Sea basin in prehistoric times before the great flood.

    • maltozzi

      Well, partly because it’s not what Ukrainian historians believe, it’s what Russians believe Ukrainian historians believe.

    • Ivan Lozowy

      Just for your edification, the “meandr” design was found on the territory of Ukraine on the bone of a mammoth dating to 18 (yes, eighteen) thousand years ago. It is part of the “Mizyn” culture, which was investigated by the well-known Ukrainian archaeologist Ivan Shovkoplias.
      Live and learn, eh? (at least I hope you can still learn)).

  • LES1

    Here are the facts:

    At the time of the Kyivan Empire there was no mention of a Moscow nation. It is well known that Moscow was created in 1277 as a subservient vassal region or ‘ulus’ to the Golden Horde, established by the Khan Mengu-Timur. By that time, Kyivan Rus had existed for more than 300 years.

    There are no indications of any connection of Kyivan Rus with the Finnish ethnic groups in the land of ‘Moksel’ or later of the Moscow principality with the Principality of Kyivan Rus up until the XVI century. At the time when Kyivan Rus had officially accepted Christianity, the Finn tribes in ‘Moksel’ lived in a semi-primitive state.

    How can anyone speak of ‘an older brother’ when that ‘older brother’ did not first appear until centuries after Rus-Ukrainians? He has no moral right to call himself an ‘older brother’, nor to dictate how people are to live, nor to force his culture, language, and world views. It is clear that until the end of the XV century, there was no Russian nation, there was no older brother ‘Great Russian’, nor were there any Russian people. Instead, there was the land of Suzdal: the land of Moksel, later the Moscow princedom, which entered into the role of the Golden Horde, the nation of Genghis Khan. From the end of the XIII to the beginning of the XVIII century, the people in this land were called Moskovites. And Moscow historians are silent about this question of their national origins.

    • Screwdriver

      Not true. 1. There was no “Kyivan Empire”. There was Kievan Rus (which transferred to Russia eventually). So this was Russian land with one of the capitals in Kiev. There were different Russian principalities at that time with capitals in Vladimir, Suzdal, Novgorod, and other Russian towns. 2. Moscow was NOT created in 1277. First known reference to Moscow dates from 1147 as a meeting place of Yuri Dolgorukiy and Sviatoslav Olgovich. 3. Moscow had nothing to do with the Golden Horder at that time ( 12th century) as Golden Horder did not even exist in 12th Century. ( established in13th Century and Invaded Rus later in 13th Century ) …Also, not just Moscow was invaded by Horder, many other Russian towns including Kiev.. Looks like there was bigger presence of Horder in around Kiev, – there are more Turk words in Ukrainian language compared to Russian. For example “torba”, “maidan” etc.
      Important to note that word “Ukraine” or “Ukraina” as they call it in Ukraine – is from Russian word “okraina” ( borderland, outskirts) as those Russian lands became remote after all the power transfer from Kiev to Moscow.

      • Renata

        Glad that you brought up Dolgorukii the founder of the Muscovite State.

        Dogorukii warred against Kyiv three times. He was considered a foreigner in Rus’ lands and after his third war against Kyiv, he was poisoned by Kyivans and eventually his body was thrown to the dogs and it ended up as
        dog food. That should give you a clue that Muscovija– the land that he established was not part of Rus’ and he was not recognized by Rus’ as one of their own…

        Unlike Crimea that was legally transferred by the Russian Soviet Republic to Ukraine, nothing else “transferred.” Ivan III brutally and forcibly annexed Novgorod to the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

        In 1478. The Proud Hansa State was decimated by Muscovite war against Novgorod, The Veche was dissolved and more than 2/3 of Novgorod’s population was killed and the others were deported and their properties stolen. The Hanseatic League kontor was closed in 1494 and the goods stored there were seized by the Grand Duchy of Moscow forces.

        That in a nutshell is the not so-proud history of Russia and its brutal acquisition of neighbor’s lands.. Russia successfully repeated that pattern numerous times and that’s how the Grand Duchy of Moscow expanded –through conquest and annexation–from just 20,000 square kilometers in 1300 to 430,000 in 1462, 2.8 million in 1533, 5.4 million by 1584 by 2014, Russia expanded its territory to 19 million square kilometers before this latest SOBIRATEL of stolen lands—Putin—militarily annexed Crimea in 2014.

        In an attempt to confuse the matter further, Peter the Great renamed the Grand Duchy of Moscow to Russia… hoping to thus lay claim to Rus’ history as well as its lands. Unfortunately for Peter and for Russia – all that muck is coming so the surface and Moscow’s propaganda war fails miserably to convince the world of its version of history and reality.

        • Screwdriver

          “Dogorukii – “He was considered a foreigner in Rus”

          Your statement does not make any sense. He was direct descendant of Rurik, who came from Sweden. All Kiev Dukes at those times were Ruriks, so all of them can be called foreigners. 🙂

          Also, .. wars between Russian principalities is not a big deal . In medieval times similar wars were taking place in Europe. There were more then 100 different states (principalities) where the modern Germany is now, many of them were fighting each other. “Brutal acquisition of neighbor’s lands” by the way is also about Lviv, taken from Poland by USSR and given to Ukraine . I do not see any movement in “Ukraine” about giving back what was belong to Poland.

          “In an attempt to confuse the matter further, Peter the Great renamed the Grand Duchy of Moscow to Russia”

          Not true. Those lands were called “Rus”, “russkaya” or “rosiyskaya zemlya” for centuries. Ivan III of Moscow was the first local ruler to be proclaimed “Grand Prince of all Rus”
          People were called “russkie”, people who lived in Russian okraina (Ukraine) were called “malorossy” ( little Russians) . So Peter the Great did not confuse anything by doing name modification, as “Duchy” became a very big country.

          • Ivan Lozowy

            Yes, you’ve been caught out!
            No matter where Rurik was from, no matter that wars were commonplace, Dolgoruki was an OFFSHOOT of the great Kyivan Rus state.

            “Those lands” that were called “Rus” means what exactly? ;-0
            Yes, for a few centuries, since Moscow emerged hundreds of years after Kyiv was the capital of a great state.
            And only the russians, in their attempt to cover up stealing the name of the Kyivan Rus state, called Ukrainians “little russians” because, of course, it is today’s “russians” who are the “little ones,” having emerged as a nation hundreds of years after the great Ukrainian state of Kyivan Rus.
            Though it is nice to see that you admit that Peter stole the name of “Rus,” though he did change it somewhat.

            The bottom line is straightforward and uncontested: russians emerged from the Ukrainian people, subjugated and occupies us for several centuries, inflicting untold harm and damage through the red terror, the genocidal Holodomor, the Gulag, the KBG.
            But we Ukrainians kicked out the russians from our lands, which pissed off putler so much he went to war with us, again.
            But we won the war and stopped putler in his tracks.
            Slava Ukrayini!

          • wendoman


          • Ivan Lozowy

            Yes, you are a pro-russian, silly imbecile

      • Ivan Lozowy

        You yourself point out the inconsistencies in your narrative.
        Dolgorukiy was the son of a Kyivite, i.e. Ukrainian, king, Wolodymyr Monomakh. Dolgorukiy’s choice, however, to seat himself in Rostov-Suzdal, was the very early beginning of the Muscovite (“russian”) empire. He fought against the Kyivan (i.e. seated in Kyiv) king Izyaslav Mstyslavych, in 1149, for example.
        You are correct in that the first mention of Moscow is in 1147. Whereas Kyiv was the capital of a great state, Kyivan Rus, already 250 years earlier.
        And, of course, the word “Ukraine” is ancient, older even than the city of Moscow. the word “Ukrainians” is used, for example, in the Ipatyiv Manuscript from 1148, for example, when Kyiv and Ukraine could not possibly be called “outskirts,” and when Moscow was, doubtless, a tiny village.
        The use of the word “Russia” itself was only adopted officially at the time of Feofan Prokopovych, the Muscovite tsar, who began to be called the “Russian empreror” in the 18th century. Until then what is now (incorrectly) called “Russia” was known as the Moscow Principality. None of the manuscripts (“litopysy”) mention the word “Russia.”

        • Screwdriver

          “a Kyivite, i.e. Ukrainian” Kiev could not be Ukrainian in 11th Century , as the word Ukraine did not exists at that time. Vladimir Monomakh (this is correct spelling by Wikipedia) was Rurik, RUS. And Rus is a key word, as an origin of Russian state. As the Russian Moscow princes in were called “vseya Rusi” – “of ALL RUS”.

          “Ukrainians” is used, for example, in the Ipatyiv Manuscript from 1148,”
          Not true. First mentioning was as a land, “oukraina”, – not as an ethnic group.

          “Feofan Prokopovych, the Muscovite tsar,”
          Not true.
          He was never a “tsar”.

          • Ivan Lozowy

            I’ve already written about this, but you’ve (conveniently) ignored the facts. The fact is that the word “Ukraine” DID exist in the 12th century, it was mentioned several times in the Ipatyiv Manuscript from 1148.
            Wolodymyr Monomakh was a ruler based in Kyiv, where he ruled over the people living around Kyiv, i.e. in Ukraine. These people, that is we, the Ukrianians, have been living in this area for at least a thousand years, probably more, given the cultural associations with, for example, the “Mizin” culture, which existed 18,000 (eighteen thousand) years ago.
            Yes, in many references Ukraine was referred to as “Rus” in ancient times, when Moscow was a tiny village. The Muscovite principality adopted the word “Russia” only several hundred years ago. This is why the Rus state is always referred to as “KYIVAN Rus”.
            I’ve already mentioned (another point you’ve ignored) that in the 12th century Ukraine and the KYIVAN Rus state was anything but an “okraina,” thus the interpretation preferred by russians simply cannot be correct.

          • Screwdriver

            “word “Ukraine” DID exist in the 12th century, it was mentioned several times in the Ipatyiv Manuscript from 1148.”

            Simply not true. First of all , Ipatyiv Manuscript was written in 14-16 century, and discovered much later. There is only one mentioning of “okraina” there. One of the chapters was about 1187 ( not 1148 as you stated), where world “okraina” was mentioned in connection with the death of Russian Prince Vladimir Glebovich ( by the way he was a grandson of Moscow Prince Yury Dolgorukiy) because he ended his life on the border of Rus , where Pereyaslavl was on the border with the Polovtsy tribes.

            Vladimir Monomakh ruled around Kiev, and Kiev was RUS ( Russian), as a matter of fact Vladimir Monomakh used word “Russian” (not RUS – but Russian!!!) about himself.

            There is very well known document called “Testament”
            (original ” Pouchenie”) of Vladimir Monomakh. Here is a very beginning of his testament:

            ” I, wretched man that I am, named Vasilii at my baptism by my pious and glorious grandsire Iaroslav, but commonly known by my Russian(!) name Vladimir, and surnamed Monomakh by my beloved father and mother and for the sake of Christian people, for I was many times saved from all distress through his mercy and through the prayers of my father.”


          • Ivan Lozowy

            Yes, you are correct in that the first mention of Ukraine was in 1187, and not in 1148, both dates being about 400 years before the proto-Russian state was created.

            But you are, of course, mistaken as to the Ipatyiv Manuscript (thank you for using the Ukrainian transliteration, by the way, it is the correct one). “The Hypatian manuscript dates back to ca. 1425,[1] but it incorporates much precious information from the lost 12th-century Kievan and 13th-century Galician chronicles.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatian_Codex). As a manuscript which recorded information from earlier writings, the events in question, which use the words “Ukraine” and “Ukrainians”, date back to 1148. In any event these writings predate the emergence of a proto-Russian state by hundreds of years.

            Your use of the word “okraina” is incorrect and misleading. The word used, precisely, was “Oukrayina.” The prefisx “O” before “Ukrayina” cannot be interpreted as meaning on the outskirts because, as linguists have pointed out, this contradicts the use of “O” in similar contexts, when it means “in” and not “near” or “outside.” This fits with the Ukrainian, Belarus, Polish and Czech uses of the prefix “o” (the Russian context differs since the Russian language is more removed from the basic Slavic languages mentioned, as it contains more Finno-Ugric and Tatar words).

            You use the word “Rus” regarding the death of Wolodymyr Hlebovich, yet the word “Rus” is not used — ever — in any of the ancient manuscripts which describe events of a thousand years ago. The word “Ukraine” is used, however.

            Dolgoruky was not a “Moscow” prince, but rather a Rostov-Suzdal prince. It was in Suzdal that he was based including until 1135, when he was defeated by his brothers. In 1156 he fortified the village of Moscow, thus he is associated with it, but it was a very minor episode. It was only in 1155 that Dolgoruky was able to conquer Kyiv, where he stayed for two years, but was poisoned and the Kyivites threw off his remaining nobles, killing them.

            The Muscovite principality only began using the word “Russian” officially
            Thus trying to equate “Russian” with “Rus” is incorrect and misleading, historically speaking. And it is why everyone uses the term “Kyivan Rus” to indicate the territory of Ukraine and its past empire under, in particular, the Riurykovich dynasty.

            Regarding the “Povchannia” of Monomakh, here is the original:
            “Азъ худъıи дѣдомъ своимъ Ӕрославомъ . блгс̑влнъıмъ славнъıмъ нареч̑нѣмь М въ кр҃щнїи . Василии . Русьскъıмь именемь Володимиръ . ѡц҃мь възлюбленъıмь . и мт҃рью своєю . Мьномахъı”
            The word “Ruskim” is not “Russian” or “rosiyskoye.” It denotes Monomakh’s allegiance to the Kyivan Rus empire and has nothing to do with Russia, the capital of which, Moscow (the name “Moscow” is from the Finno-Ugric and means “dirty water”), was a small village at the time.

            The bottom line — no matter how much you may not like it — is that we, Ukrainians, have lived on these lands of Ukraine for thousands of years. We formed the basis of the Kyivan (“Kyivan Rus”) empire, which stretched from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Our national symbol is the trident, the symbol of Prince Wolodymyr, one of the Kyivan Rus rulers. Yours is the symbol of, among others, the Golden Horde.
            We Ukrainians have always fought the russians, we are doing so today and it is we — like in the old days when we protected civilized Europe from the eastern hordes — who have stopped the madman Putler in his tracks.

            Slava Ukrayini!

          • Screwdriver

            “As a manuscript which recorded information from earlier writings, the events in question, which use the words “Ukraine” and “Ukrainians”, date back to 1148″

            Not true.

            As I said before, there is nothing about okraina in connection with 1148. – ZERO.

            And even when okraina was mentioned , it was written in 15 century, about the Rus bordeland (okraina ) event in 1187.

            “Your use of the word “okraina” is incorrect and misleading. The word used, precisely, was “Oukrayina.” The prefisx “O” before “Ukrayina” cannot be interpreted as meaning on the outskirts because, as linguists have pointed out,”

            Not true.

            Even if we listen Ukrainian (bios) linguists, 🙂
            … and remove “O” -…. still , Russian meaning of “ukraina” – it is coming from ” u kraya” – “on the border”, near the border, same exact meaning as “borderland”
            And still, we would refuse to listen Ukrainian so called “linguists”, because Russian word “okraina” is an active word with very straight forward meaning.

            And manuscripts confirming that, because all the events in manuscripts with oukraina ( and all of the mentionings of oukraina are very poor to begin with, only a few) are happening on the borderlands. There is not a single mentioning of “oukraina” when manuscripts describe something which is not on the boarder!

            Would it be natural to see mentioning of “oukraina” and “Kiev” in manuscripts next to each other, if that would be a country ? Absolutely. But this is not the case.

            “Русьскъıмь именемь Володимиръ . ѡц҃мь възлюбленъıмь . и мт҃рью своєю . Мьномахъı”
            The word “Ruskim” is not “Russian” or “rosiyskoye.””

            Absolutely not true.

            Good that you posted the original! Thank you for that. And this is very clear – “Русьскъıмь” is Russkim – “Russian” in English , there is no other meaning, no other translation, no matter how you spin it.

          • Ivan Lozowy

            The correct date is 1187 – ELEVEN EIGHTY SEVEN!
            That is when, almost a thousand years ago, Ukraine and Ukrainians were mentioned in historical texts. That predates the emergence of a “russian” nation by at least 400 years.

            The mention of Ukraine was from earlier than the date of the manuscript in question, this is not disputed by scholars. Your refusal to recognize what is universally recognized by scholars, that the mention of Ukraine was from 1187 and not “the 15th century” is telling of bias.

            True. Look at the original text of the manuscripts. The word used, precisely, was “Oukrayina.”

            Trying to go by the 21st century usage in the russian language in applying interpretation to a text from the 12th century is, of course, ridiculous.

            “Ruskim” means “Rus,” not “russian” since the russian nation, such as it is, emerged long after Kyivan Rus — RUS — was a great empire. The capital of Ukraine is Kyiv, the capital of Kyivan Rus was Kyiv. The emblem of the Kyivan Rus empire in the 10th century was the trident, the state symbol of Ukraine is the trident. The people who lived on the territory of Ukraine have been here for a thousand and probably for tens of thousands of years. Thus all your speculation about “borderland” is besides the point.

            Because the point is that Ukrainians are the oldest branch of the Eastern Slavs and the russians are an offshoot of the Ukrainian nation.

          • Screwdriver

            “The correct date is 1187 – ELEVEN EIGHTY SEVEN!
            That is when, almost a thousand years ago, Ukraine and Ukrainians were mentioned in historical texts.”

            Finally you got the date right after few attempts!
            But you still did not get that there was no historical text in 1187. 🙂
            Manuscripts were written in around 14th century about different events in the past including events in 1187 . It is almost the same as somebody in 25th century would all of the sudden mention
            ( 3 times! ) that Ivan Lozovoy from 21st century was an alien who came from space. But no other source would confirm that 🙁
            And then , in about 27th century based on that manuscript of 25th century ( about Ivan Lozovoy from 21st century) some people would consider Ivan Lozovoy a Messiah, – Russian from great Okraina.

          • Ivan Lozowy

            Yes, you’re obviously very happy that YOU got something right when everything else you have written is plain wrong.

            You are, of course, incorrect regarding the time of writing of manuscripts such as the Ukrainian ones, they consists of copies of earlier texts, which were based on earlier texts, some of which may well have been contemporaneous with the events described. It was not a monk who sat down 100 years after an event and started describing it. lol
            Thus, the first mention of Ukraine and Ukrainians was well over 800 years ago. Unless (which is entirely possible) you wish to deny that there were any inhabitants in Kyivan Rus.

            Yes, yes, keep fantasizing about Ivan Lozowy, it’s all you have recourse to, given the historical facts are obviously not to your liking.

            To wit, “Ruskim” means “Rus,” not “russian” since the russian nation, such as it is, emerged long after Kyivan Rus — RUS — was a great empire. The capital of Ukraine is Kyiv, the capital of Kyivan Rus was Kyiv. The emblem of the Kyivan Rus empire in the 10th century was the trident, the state symbol of Ukraine is the trident. The people who lived on the territory of Ukraine have been here for a thousand and probably for tens of thousands of years. This in contrast to the russians and Moscow, who emerged hundreds of years later than the events in question, as an offshoot of the Ukrainian nation, and mixed with Finno-Ugric tribes as well as the Mongols.

          • Dr. Preobrazhensky

            Русьскъıмь seems different from Pусскиm. It’s like the difference between Roman and Romanian in the Italian language (Romano vs. Rumeno).

            Because Russia was a great world power with its scholars it was able to have two different words translated as the same in English, leading to confusion for the purpose of mixing the two different political entities.

          • Screwdriver

            Very funny. 🙂
            So how would you translate “Русьскъıмь именемь” ??? 🙂
            Rhetorical question though, you do not need to answer.
            Looks like Monomakh created a real problem for Ukrainian self-identification .

          • Dr. Preobrazhensky

            Rus’ian (not Russian) name. Sometimes this is translated as Ruthenian. It’s clearly spelled and pronounced differently from Russian in the original Cyrillic text.

          • wendoman

            Vladimir (not stupid vOlodimir) was a Ruriks who comes from Novgorod with Rus and capture Kuyob (Kiev) from judas khazars.

          • Ivan Lozowy

            Ah, yes… kid, the correct spelling is Wolodymyr given that he was a Ukrainian king. Do read some more, kid, someday you’ll learn something.

          • wendoman
          • Ivan Lozowy

            Just keep ass-licking putler, you pathetic idiotic russian (although that’s an oxymoron).

          • Dr. Preobrazhensky

            “And Rus is a key word, as an origin of Russian state. As the Russian princes in Moscow were called “vseya Rusi” – “of ALL RUS”.

            A well-known phrase:

            Запомните, между Россией и Русью общего приблизительно столько же, сколько между гонореей и гонораром.

      • Dr. Preobrazhensky

        “There was no “Kyivan Empire”. There was Kievan Rus (which transferred to Russia eventually). So this was Russian land with one of the capitals in Kiev. There were different Russian principalities at that time with capitals in Vladimir, Suzdal, Novgorod, and other Russian towns.

        Kievan Rus was as much “Russian land” as Jamaica is “English land.” For much of its history (certainly until and including the rule of Yaroslav) it was a Scandinavian trade-state where Slavs (and, in the northeast, Finns) were an exploited commodity whose elites were at best junior partners/collaborators with the Scandinavian rulers.

        Ukrainians and Russians arguing over who is Rus is like a Mexican Indian arguing with a Cuban black about who is the real Spaniard.

        Scandinavian Rus contribution to Russian and Ukrainian culture was largely limited to forcing the Orthodox (Eastern Christian) faith upon the native tribes, and giving them a name, linking them to each other and separating them from their western neighbors.

        The reality is that Ukrainian culture dates from the fusion of Orthodox Eastern Slavs with Polish culture, and Russia dates to the development of the Slavic-Finns of Vladimir/Suzdal/Muscovy under Tatar rule and then independently.

        “Also, not just Moscow was invaded by Horder, many other Russian towns including Kiev.. Looks like there was bigger presence of Horder in around Kiev, – there are more Turk words in Ukrainian language compared to Russian. For example “torba”, “maidan” etc.

        Kiev left Tatar control about 150 years before Moscow did. But Ukraine did border Crimean Tatar and Turkish lands so the presence of loan words is understandable. Note that the Russian language uses Mongol words for very basic concepts such as money (dengi).

  • Ivan Lozowy

    I had considered buying the book, but have reconsidered.
    Any attempt at constructing a cogent framework for Ukraine’s history of the past thousand years or so which ignores significant facts in the history of the Ukrainian nation such as Ukrainians declaring independence in 1918, the mass execution of Ukrainian political, civic and cultural leaders by the soviets, the deliberate settlement of Russians into the Donbas region following the genocidal Holodomor famine and so on and so forth is certainly not worth the time of reading, much less the price of buying the book.

  • hugoden

    Ivan Lozowy@ I was interested but
    very curious about the publish date. Right now history is rewritten in Ukraine especially for the Turkish Chazarian tribe (Jews)I recommend reading the book “Cultural Atlas
    of Russia and the Sovjet Union.Robin Milner-Gulland, Nikolai Dejevsky and Sir Dimitri Obolensky Oxford Equinox 1989 isbn 90-5157-068-6 pages 34,
    35, 43.

  • John

    What a load of krap. Whoever wrote this is an idiot. No mention of the Zaporozhye Cossack’s, Zaporizhian Sich or Khortytsia Island ? What a joke.

  • lossarrow57

    Unfortunately they are given wrong facts during the Muscovite-Polish war 1654-1667 (divided by a Polish-Swedish War).
    September 16, 1658 in Gadyach of the year an agreement was signed
    between the Republic of Two Nations and Zaporizhia Cossack Army,
    represented by the Cossack hetman Ivan Wyhowski.
    provided for the transformation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    in three equal union of legal entities (countries): the Crown, the Grand
    Duchy of Lithuania and the Principality of Ruthenian formed by the
    provinces of Kiev, Bratslav and Chernihiv (formerly constituting the
    Union of Lublin (1569) part of the Crown). The
    consequence of the union was a treaty to establish separate offices for
    Rus (created functions of the Speaker of the Ruthenian, next to the Royal
    Marshall and Lithuania, the captain of the Ruthenian Chancellor of Ruthenian and other positions similar to those existing in the other two
    members of federation) admission Members of the Ruthenian to the Sejm,
    and Orthodox bishops to the Senate . The
    country would have its own army, its own treasure, your own Government
    departments and agencies under the authority of the captain of their own
    choice. The nobility of all three countries had to choose together the king and to send deputies to the General Sejm. The
    Union of Brest was to be excluded on the grounds of the Duchy
    Ruthenian, higher Orthodox clergy received permission equating them with
    the Latin, among others, right
    to sit in the Senate, it stipulated that in the province of Kiev
    senatorial offices are reserved for the Orthodox, and in Braclaw and
    Chernihiv force has alternata alternating with Catholics. A
    thousand Cossacks (Cossack elders) received a grant rights of nobility
    once, and a hundred Cossacks (from every Cossack regiment), approved by
    Hetman was at the hands of the king of receive nobility annually. The provisions of the union also included admission to full-time
    register of Cossack 30 thousand Cossacks (the text of the agreement gave
    the opportunity to increase the number or the Honourable Hetman
    Zaporozhsky on Regestrze supply), and the return of the nobility (Polish
    and Ruthenian) to her estates in Ukraine Naddnieprze.

    Treaty of hadiach was a strikeout international law Pereyaslav
    agreement (signed between the Council of the Cossacks and Bohdan
    Khmelnytsky and Vasyl Buturlin occurring as a representative of the Tsar
    of Russia), under which Ukraine was subject to the jurisdiction of Moskva.

    Hadziacka Union approved the Sejm of the Republic and swore (ratified) King John II Casimir Vasa. As
    a result, the union Cossack troops went to the site of the Republic and
    8 July 1659 years under the baton of Ivan defeated Wyhowski trying to
    intervene militarily in Ukraine Naddnieprza the Moscow army at the
    Battle of Konotop. Next
    battle of Cudnow and Palonka led to the total disruption of Moskov
    troops and Polish troops entered the territory of Russia. He repeated scenario of 1610, but Polish commander Stefan Czarnecki was not a gentleman like Stanislaw Zolkiewski.

    But unfortunately there was a conflict of Polish King Jan Kazimierz with the nobility. John Casimir decided to break the law and announce a successor to the throne without election. This has met with the rebellion of the nobility The rebellion Lubomirski). The rebellion was choked by the Polish army from the borders of Russia. Therefore,
    without losing a battle Poland gave eastern Ukraine under the
    provisions of the Settlement Andrychov (all seemed to be temporary). In fact, it was the most lasting peace. Despite
    the suppression of the rebellion, the king was forced to abdicate and
    Lubomirski (rebel commander) went on voluntary exile. Events were essential to the history of Polish and Ukrainian.

  • lossarrow57

    Author person found also described the division of today’s Ukraine in the fourteenth century. They were really really three zones:
    – Poland: Western Ukraine received as a legacy of the princes of
    Mazovia dynastic reasons (attached to the Polish reign of Casimir the
    – Lithuania: the eastern part (but this is part of a much excess areas of
    today’s Ukraine because it reached the town of Mozhaisk, Heating
    cables, Oriel, Kursk) as a result of wars Lithuanian – Tatar
    (Polish-Lithuanian Union of 1385 years meant that there were these areas
    are also under the influence Polish )
    – Hungary: South part of Ukraine (Mohylová, Akerman, Kamieniec Podolski)
    Hungarians eventually repelled the Mongol and as a result the Polish-Hungarian
    part of the Ukraine inherited Queen Jadwiga (daughter Ludvik Angegaven)
    that land and gave solemnly Poland. Queen Jadwiga was married to the Duke of Lithuania and Ruthenian Wladyslaw Jagiello (later the Polish king and Grand Duke of Lithuania and Ruthenian).
    The marriage was linked to the baptism of Lithuania in the 1385th Fief
    Polish king was also the Republic of Pskov, Novgorod and Tver Republic.

    Today Moscow and Tula, Kaluga, Novosil was under the rule of the Golden Horde.
    The name Ukraine is of Polish origin (u kraja Rzeczpospolitej).

  • Hegelman

    One has to respect Ukrainians for pruducing as great a world genius as Lev Trotsky. Also great revolutionaries like Valdimir Antonov-Ovseenko.

  • Roman Kozak New Venture

    Quin Anne ” wasn’t unhappy ” and she was much more beatiful would like to admit then the Quin of England . In her ” Letter to the Ukrainian King-Farther Yaroslav well known famoust ukrainian historical person” She simple write that on the territory of Paris are mainly the Wooden Areas sometimes with the woolfs as She used to be closer more to Civilization which are are already exist and are Developed in the Ukrainian Kyiv . which is not only the culturaly developed capital city of the HUge KingDom Kyivan Commonwealth includes also Galician landPrincipality , Kyivan landPrincipality , Volinian landPrincipality , Chernigiv landPrincipality and Novgorod landPrincipalities and others .This information can be easy checked Notre-Dame de Cathedral was founded in the 1163 .
    ” RUS” was steels by the russian federation in the 18 Century . the same as the Encient Cyrilic Litteration ( Cyril and Mefodium ) and Slavonic Language Basics

    With the Legal KIng , Trone , Capital, the Rich Slavonic-Ukrainian Heritage , CHRISTIANITY landPrincipals , International Relations with the Scandinavia and Greece on the South , being the Biggest and the most Culturaly Developed Country in the Europe in the XI eleven Century.

    After the Invasion of the Tatar-Mongols part of Ours Heritage was Stolen

    since that time We are keeping the highest level of the Education , Historical Memory , Christian National Traditions and Unity of the Spiritual Clearness
    We are the Guardians of the History and True
    filling exite in Epic Superriority of the Humman Spirit We are We CAN , WE ARE UKRAINIANS

  • Roman Kozak New Venture

    Ukraine it’s Spiritual National Country , pseudo-russia its the impire
    Our Friends not a pseudo-russia , former Mongoloid Impaire with thems we have the own counts Our Friends its Recognize Ukrainian Origin Diaspora in the Europe and North America and English Speaking Community . Keeping ours Original Language Ukrainian its not means to be seporated but to be Native-Integrated in the Multi-Lingual World