Ukrainians think they’re more Rusians than the Russians. This is becoming the slogan of these types of articles, because it’s certainly what you can take away from it.
Ukrainian Nationalist writer Larisa Nitsoy would like to rename Russia to Moscovia, based on her feeling that Ukraine is the true decedent of the state of Rus’, and that this name belongs to Ukraine instead of Russia. She believes Ukrainians are the true Russians, and Russia is unrelated to Rus’, specifically, Nitsoy said:
In reality, it is us [Ukrainians] who are Russians, and they are Moscovites. The Moscow Czardom named itself Rus’ by decree of Peter the First [The Great].”
There are so many things wrong with that statement; everything she claimed was factually wrong, but yet there is so much to learn from it.
Above all, while her goal was to delegitimize Russia, it only succeeded in reinforcing the truth – that Russia and Ukraine have common roots.
The greatest weapon of true Ukrainian Ultranationalists, and the greatest tool of Ukrainianization is actually to erase and rewrite Ukrainian history, to make the people forget they are Russian, as Saint Lavrenty of Chernigov (1950+) said.
This was the original goal of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by renaming their conquered subjects from Ruthenians (the Latin word for something from Rus’), to Ukrainians. The purpose was not only to make them forget the idea of uniting with Russia, but to make them forget their own history as decedents of Rus’, so that only the borderland – The Ukraine – will remain.
Larisa Nitsoy, however, succeeded in calling Ukrainians to remember they are Russians, whether she intended to or not.
While the most basic ultranationalist morons are satisfied to simply scream “Ukraine above all”, unaware the origin or meaning of that name, the more educated among them can’t deny their heritage as part of Rus’.
It is in Ukrainian language history books as well, where it is called Ukraina-Rus’. Ukrainians know the name for their most ancient homeland and place of origin is called Rus’.
It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s reality and fact, which no one is denying, rather, they are changing history by claiming to be the sole heirs of Rus’, and writing out the others, Russians, and Belarusians who don’t agree with their nationalist exclusivity.
Essentially, what we are seeing happen here is something I’ve written about constantly – Ukrainian nationalists think they’re more Rusian than the Russians.
It must be understood, that the argument of Ukrainian nationalists with regards to their “ancient history”, is not, in essence, to claim that they are decedents of an ancient Ukraine, and that Russia/Rus’ forced this name on them. Rather, they believe Rus’ is ancient Ukraine, and Russia has no relation to Rus‘. I guess you can’t spell Ukraine without Rus…or…wait….no, that’s Russia.
They do not claim a separate heritage from that which Russians claim, the problem arises in that they claim the exact same heritage as Russians and Belarusians. That wouldn’t even be a problem if they didn’t claim it exclusively for themselves.
In essence, Ukrainians claim that Ancient Ukraine IS Rus’, and that Russians have nothing to do with it.
They think Rus’ belongs to Ukraine, and possibly Belarus, whereas Russia is simply Moscovia. This is, of course, ridiculous and we will demonstrate why.
Debunking the Propaganda
Before we begin, let’s quickly debunk the factual untruths we’ve heard Nitsoy propagate, so that we don’t need to dwell on it. As I did once, when a Ukrainian politician claimed Jesus was an “Ancient Ukrainian...
(this is really getting out of hand), I find it’s best to take the statements sentence by sentence.
Nitsoy began by saying:
In reality, it is us [Ukrainians] who are Russians, and they [Russians] are Moscovites.
This statement is an example of how half-truths can sometimes be just as deceiving as contrived lies. Yes, Ukrainians are Russians – in that they are from Rus’, however, she is attempting to say Ukrainians are the only Russians, this is nonsense. First of all, let’s remember that Rus’ or Kievan Rus’ is the First East Slavic state.
We can look at this more simple map to get an idea of what Europe looked like just before the Mongol Invasion.
When Rus’ was divided after the Mongol Invasion, the western portions – Kiev, Galicia, and the territory of modern Belarus were conquered and absorbed by Poland- Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and they spent at least 300 years under Polish-Lithuanian rule.
After the Mongol invasion, the institution of “communion in the Russian land”, when the Kiev lands were viewed as a common property of the Rurikovich family, was abandoned and the name “Rus” was assigned to all the East Slavic lands.
Moscow developed from the Principality of Vladimir-Suzdal, one of the Rus’ principalities which rose to power in 1169, and eclipsed Kiev as a capital of Rus’. After the Mongol Invasion, the throne of the Metropolitan of Rus’ was moved from Kiev to Vladimir in 1299, and again from Vladimir to Moscow in 1325.
Moscow would rise, overthrow the Mongols, and unite the North and Eastern principalities, while the western Rus’ principalities (modern Ukraine and Belarus) would remain under the Polish-Lithuanian rule.
Moscow, now preeminent among the Rus’ powers was sometimes referred to as Moscovia, or Moscowy in non-Russian sources from XV through XVIII centuries, along with the names Russia and Roussia (The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron: In 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 extras). – St. Petersburg, 1890-1907), but this did not make it a separate nation.
It is important to note that one of the first who began to contrast the “Moscovites” with the Russian (Rutheni), was the Polish historian Matvey Mehovsky in his Russophobic propaganda.
The name “Moscovy” thus began to prevail in countries that received information from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, primarily in Catholic Italy and France.
Polish-Lithuanian propaganda had intensified on the eve of, and during the Russian-Lithuanian war of 1500-1503.
Lithuanians were very angered by the title of the Russian great prince (великий князь) Ivan III “the sovereign of all Russia”.,
This was because the term “of all Russia” made it clear that Ivan wanted to unify all of the Russian lands, including those as part of Lithuania.
The people living there still called themselves Russky (Russians), just as contemporaries in the Ukraine did, and Moscow would also become the capital of the Russian Czardom. The use of the name “Moscovy” was associated with the huge role that Moscow played in the political life of Russia, which made foreigners to identify the capital with the entire state.
With the use of the terms “Moscovy” and “Moscovites,” geographers and historians of the 16th and 17th centuries repeatedly stipulated that the Moscovites should be identified with the Russians:
“Moscovy received its name from the name of the river and the capital located on it, being part of Rusia,” Baronius wrote.
In his popular university textbook, Horn stressed:
“Moscovites are Russians, only so-called by the name of the capital of their state”.
In the beginning of XVII century, the French traveler Jacques Margaret wrote that
“It is a mistake to call the citizens of Moscow principality Moscovites, and not Russians. This is a mistake not only made by us, who live far from Russia, but made by those living in the near abroad. They themselves (Moscow people), when asked what nation they belong to, answer: Russac, that is to say, Russians. If on the other hand, they are simply asked where they are from, they say Moscova – from Moscow.”
Which brings me to Nitsoy’s second statement.
The Moscow Czardom named itself Rus’ by decree of Peter the First [The Great].”
Everything in this sentence is factually incorrect. First of all, the term Moscow Czardom did not exist, the region around Moscow, and by extension, its ruling power could be called Moscovia, however, this term was informal, much like the word “The Kremlin” is used to refer to the leadership of Russia today.
The Czardom ruled from Moscow was referred to as the Russian Czardom, and Peter the Great did NOT change the name to Rus’, nor did anyone, the name was always Rus’. Peter the Great simply changed the name from the Slavic word Czardom, to the more Western “Empire”, so the land became known as the Russian Empire.
It is possible that she is confused, and is referring to Ivan III the Great, the ruler of Moscow principality who actually changed the name of his land from Rus’ to Russia (Rossia), hundreds of years before Peter the Great was born. It is noteworthy that he did not change the name of the land to Rus’ as he would have, if it was not already Rus’, rather, he changed the name of the land from Rus’ to Russia.
Still, while there is even a famous book written by Lev Gumilev, “From Rus’ to Russia“, the difference between this name change was purely semantic, much like Peter the Great’s change from Russian Czardom to Russian Empire, it was a matter of different languages.
Rus’ was the native Slavic term, however, Rossia was simply the Greek word for Rus’. Ivan choose a Greek word in order to make it clear that Moscow was the Third Rome, and form a link with his Byzantine linage, both that in his own blood, and that which came from his wife.
For the first time the word “Ῥωσία” (Rosia) was used in the 10th century by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Through the Greek written language and official documents, the Greek word “Ῥωσία” entered the Russian language.
The first known mention of the word “Rosia” in the Cyrillic entry is dated April 24, 1387. From the end of the XV century, the name of Rosia was used in secular literature and documents of the Russian state, gradually replacing the former name of Rus’. Official status, it acquired, after the wedding of Ivan IV to the kingdom in 1547, when the country began to be called the Russian Czardom.
Finally, Litsoy claimed that Empress Catherine the Great ordered that anyone who refers to themselves as Moscovite be “beaten with sticks”, saying this “is a historical fact which is recorded in museums”.
Seeing as she does not even bother citing an actual source, i.e. which “museums”, I feel no need to answer this statement. By this standard of “history”, I can claim any number of ridiculous things, and defend my argument by saying, “it says so in museums”.
It seems actual facts no longer matter for Ukrainian ultra-nationalist or their western friends, when anything slandering Russia becomes a fact no matter how ridiculous. Quite sad really.
It is important, however, to point out that the roots of this mendacious propaganda are also profoundly racist.
They are claiming that Russians do not have the right to be called “Russians”, that is, the descendants of Rus’. Imagine if English people were told they have no heritage from the Angles tribe, or Italians from the Romans.
The old ideological traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were brought in a new racist form, by Francis Dukhinsky, who emigrated from Right-Bank Ukraine to Paris, after the defeat of the Polish uprising of 1830.
In his works and speeches, he argued that the Moscovites (as he consistently called Russians) were not Europeans, but the Asians were “Turans”, in contrast to the Poles and Rusyns (as he consistently called Ukrainians and Belarusians) who together with other European nations were “Aryans”.
According to Dukhinsky, Russia should be fenced off from Europe in every way as a threat to the existence of the latter, and it will be possible to do this only by reviving Poland “in the old borders” – of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (including Ukraine and Belarus).
Thus, in his idea, Poland became the outpost of European civilization against the “wild” Asia. It must be said this was very strange, given the Polish idea of Sarmatism, which was the dominant cultural and fashion trend in the later years of the commonwealth. The idea that stipulated Poles were descendants of Sarmatians, and influenced them to adopt a more eastern style of dress, kaftans, sabres, and hairstyle.
Dukhinsky may be surprised by how much his ancestors admired eastern cultures, as their court clothes resembled by far Russian, Little Russian, and even Ottoman clothing, rather than German, English, or French at the time. Still, he thought only the Russians were “eastern”.
Using almost exclusively the term “Moscovy” in regards to Russia, Dukhinsky claimed that Russia received its modern name, and that Moscovite became Russians, according to the secret order of Catherine II. He believed, in order to hide their “Turanian origin”, the Moscovites adopted the “Aryan” name – Russians.
The reputable scientific community did not accept the pseudoscientific, racist ideas of Dukhinsky.
Renowned Russian historians, including Mikhail Dragomanov and Nikolai Kostomarov, who published “The Truth to the Poles” about Russia (1861), actively criticized his theory. Linguistic scholar, and honorary professor of the University of Warsaw Jan Baudouin de Courtenay, published a condemning pamphlet re Dukhinsky.
Subsequent substitution of the official name “Russia” with the word “Moscovy” was occasionally used in the political arena in similar propagandist racist contexts. For example, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in his letter to Queen Victoria in 1877 wrote
“to clear Central Asia of the Moscovites and drive them into the Caspian Sea”.
The plans of the Nazi leadership were the creation of the Reichskommissariat of Moscovy, analogous to the Reichskommissariat of Ukraine that they actually established in 1941.
Who are the “real Russians”
It is a widely believed fact, the statement “Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, together we are Holy Rus”, I feel no insecurity by stating that, nor do I feel Ukrainians don’t also belong to Rus’.
I cannot however, tolerate blatant lies and distortion of facts, and the reality shows that while there is no need at all, from a Russian perspective, to fight over this, and push anyone out of “the family”.
All are equal children of Rus’, however Ukrainians are in a very weak position if they intend to fight over who are the real Russians. It is in the benefit of Ukrainians to simply be satisfied with this equal brotherhood, because if they really dig deep, they will find their very name has been developed to destroy their own history.
First of all, the fact that even a child can figure out the word Rus’ and Russian are related tells you something. It’s also not a difficult stretch to realize Belarus is related to Rus’, it is the word Ukraine, which is the outlier here. Before we realize just how much of an outlier the term Ukraine was in history, let’s take note in the records of foreign works depicting the Rus’ lands.
The accounts of foreigners are particularly interesting, because it helps build a picture of what reality was in the time period, seeing as foreign writers certainly would not have been Russian or Ukrainian nationalist.
This painting of the great academic master Yuriy Drohobych Kotermak, a physician, polymath, rector of the University of Bologna, and professor of Kraków Academy clearly states that he is “Of Russia” (bottom right of the painting).
Kotermak, however, was born in “Red Ruthenia”, Lviv, modern-day western Ukraine, in 1450, yet contemporaries who made his portrait considered him to be “Of Rus”. Today, in modern Ukraine, Kotermak is considered a great genius of the nation, referenced in this pop song at this moment.
That is perfectly fine, to be proud of him as a son of Lviv, but one can not rewrite history, say he was an “Ancient Ukrainian”, and Russians are just Moscovites. By this logic, Kotermak was a Moscovite. He was of Rus’ blood, as are the Ukrainian people, as are Russians and Belarusians. Moscovia was just one region of Russia, just as Galicia is just one region.
In this map by Mercator in 1595, we can clearly see the area around Moscow marked as Russia (Rvssia), dispelling the notion that Moscovia was the name for this area.
The Emperor of Russia was my father: O that he were alive, and here beholding His daughter’s trial! that he did but see The flatness of my misery, yet with eyes Of pity, not revenge!
Contemporary English people knew what Russia was, not only because Czar Ivan Grozny (the terrible) opened trade with them, but because everyone knew of the mighty land of Rus’.
It was not hard for them to understand, therefore, that Russia was just as much Rus’ as Anglia was England. This is not because they suppressed or hated Ukrainians, but because the idea of Ukraine as a national identity had not even developed yet.
Ukrainian nationalists need to realize the term Ukraine was formed from a regional term into a nation as a means of occupying the inhabitants of Ukraine, not liberating them.
The word Ukraine has been accepted to mean and the word Ukraine appears in the oldest vernacular Ukrainian (Ruthenian) gospel as a noun, simply to refer to the edge, or the border of something. In this case, the word Ukraine is used to mean the border of the Jordan River/Sea of Galilee, not a country, much less a people or nation.
Indeed, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all began as the same people, but the cold, hard truth, is that the only one of these people with an even remote history of continuous statehood is Russia.
After Kievan Rus was divided in 1240, the eastern and northern portions gradually united into Moscow after the Mongols were overthrown, and these parts of Rus’ continued to be sovereign to this very day, as Russia.
Ukraine and Belarus, however, were ruled mostly by the Poles/Lithuanians commonwealth from 1360 to 1654. In 1654, Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky succeeds in uniting most of what is now north and central Ukraine with Russia, however, in his time period, there was no idea of a Ukrainian state.
Despite it being called in Russian history as the reunification of Ukraine with Russia, there was only the Russian Czardom, The Cossack Hetmanate, the Polish-Lithuanians Commonwealth, the Crimean Tatars/Ottoman Empire, and possibly Hungary on this land.
Ukrainians try and claim the Cossack Hetmanate as a proto-Ukrainian state, however, the Cossacks themselves did not see it as a state, as much as a brotherhood of free men, as we can see from the words of Cossack descendent Russian-Ukrainian writer Gogol.
Slowly, other regions of what is now Ukraine, would be added to the Russian Empire, however, each region was almost like a different country.
You could divide Ukraine today into three distinct parts, far west, central, and South-East, as we have discussed in this article.
Ukraine, unlike Russia, therefore, was not an independent state for effectively any part of its history until 1991. This is not because they were occupied by Russians, because after all, the author herself admits that Ukrainians are Russians.
This whole idea of Ukraine being the real Russia, whereas Russia itself being only Moscow falls apart, when you realize that, yes, Ukraine and her people are decedents of Rus’, just like Russians, however unlike Russians, Ukrainians lost their self-rule for three hundred years (1360-1654), and much longer in Galicia, whereas Russia never stopped developing her national consciousness and identity, even under the Mongols.
Unlike the Poles, Lithuanians, and Austro-Hungarians did to the Ukrainians, the Russians were able to continue cultural development as a people, so long as they accepted a vassal relationship, however, Ukrainians were not only vassals, they were forced to assimilate.
Ukrainian people lost their very name – Rus’ to the pernicious influence of Western Empires, like Austro-Hungary, who wanted to make their vassals forget their connection to Rus’.
This was done to form an artificial Ukrainian identity, which could exist as a client state of the Austrian empire, without seeking union with other Rus’ people.
The author, Ms. Nitsoy is half right, indeed Ukrainians are Russians, but they have no place telling Russians they aren’t Russians. Russia is, aside from God, the only hope of Ukraine, and even then, Russia will likely prove his instrument in the salvation of Ukraine in years to come.
This Ukrainian nationalist, and her like-minded people, would instead be better served, by realizing they have been bamboozled and prostituted by the West, into forgetting their own name, and slaying their own people.
Rather than fighting with Russia, the only Rus’ state which ever retained permanent statehood, she should follow the example of legendary Ukrainian Hero Bogdan Khmelnitsky, who united with the “Moscovite” Czar, not as a form of slavery, but to liberate and unite the lost children of Rus’
How many more Ukrainians need to die until they realize their killing their own people, and strengthening the cause of the enemies of Rus’, who do not wish to see a powerful union of Slavs?