|Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire by IIjam Repin|
Today, we are faced with a crisis in the Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have a long and complicated history. The origins of Russian civilization are found in the region which today encompasses Ukraine. Kyivan Rus' was the oldest great civilization the Russian sphere, and it was located close to modern Kiev. So, as a result of this crisis, we are going to look at the relationship between Russia and Ukraine in the 1648-1789 period.
|Eastern Europe in 1648|
|Box art from Zvezda|
This began a period in Polish history known as the Deluge, in which Poland was repeatedly overrun by more powerful neighbors. The Cossacks succeeded in breaking Ukraine away from the Poles, but they failed to consolidate power effectively, and sought support from outside the Ukraine. After Khmelnytsky died, the Cossacks lost vision, and failed to finish their independence movement. The Cossacks fiercely resisted any influence from the Ottoman empire, and were caught in a larger struggle between east and west. Russia and Sweden were battling for control of the Baltic world, and the Cossacks of Ukraine became entangled in that struggle.
|Adam Mazepa and Karl XII of Sweden|
This defeat ended the Swedish alliance, and brought Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Zaporozhian Cossacks loyally served the Russian crown, and fought in all of the major Russian wars. Cossacks lived a free life, so serfs from neighboring areas often fled to Ukraine in order to become free.
In 1775, Catherine II of Russia disbanded the Zaporozhian host, "for their deeds and insolence of disobeying the will of our Imperial Majesty." Russian military units moved in, and disbanded the Cossack way of life. Cossacks were incorporated directly into the Russian military units, and an independent Ukraine became a thing of the past.
Thanks for Reading,