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“Novorossiya? Steppe Ukraine? Northern Black Sea region?”

A photo from the album called "Children -- Our Future" from a "Novorossiya" website of the Moscow-created so-called "Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics." In the Kremlin's eyes, war was, is and will be the future of people under its control. (Image:
A photo from the album called “Children — Our Future” from a “Novorossiya” website of the Moscow-created so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.” In the Kremlin’s eyes, war was, is and will be the future of people under its control. (Image:

Putin remembered Novorossiya 212 years after its disappearance. 

In a TV interview several weeks ago the Russian President Vladimir Putin talked history: “The issue is providing the legal rights and interests of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of the southeast of Ukraine. I remind you, using the terminology of Tsarist times, this is Novorossiya: Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolayiv, Odesa were not part of Ukraine in Tsarist times, these are all territories which were given to Ukraine in the 20’s by the Soviet Government. Why they did this, God only knows. This all happened after the respective victories of Potemkin and Catherine II in the famous wars with the centre in Novorossiysk. This is where Novorossiya comes from.”

Crooked and untrue. “Novorossiya” first emerged in 1764. Back then Catherine II just became empress of Russia. They called 13 sotnyas of the Poltava and two sotnyas of the Myrhorod troops of the Hetmanate with this simple name. Plus the adjacent Slovyanoserbia with a centre in Bakhmut – modern Artemivsk in Donetsk oblast, as well as Novoserbia and the Novoslobodka Cossack troop with a fortress of St. Elizabeth – modern Kirovohrad. The centre of the new government was Kremechuk – now in Poltava oblast. Therefore the basis of that Novorossiya as a government were old Cossack lands.

10 years after the victory in the war with the Turks Catherine issues an order “regarding the elimination of the Zaporizhya Sich and its accession to the Novorossiya government.” Henceforth all the conquered land in the south of Ukraine were attached to “Novorossiya.” Katerynoslav was built to replace the Sich – now Dnipro. Instead of the Yedisan lands – Kherson and Mykolayiv. Instead of Khadzhibey – Odesa. In 1783 the occupied Crimea is also acceded to Novorossiya. It expanded so much that in 1802 it was divided into governments: Kherson, Katerynoslav and Tavriya. Therefore, Novorossiya exists for less than 40 years. But 212 years later, in 2014, it resurrected in the mind of the Russian President. Obviously, with the proposal of the “Eurasian” philosopher and geopolitician, ultra-chauvinist Alexandr Dugin.

It would be fairer to call these lands with the long-term name “Steppe Ukraine” or, according to international standards, geographically – “Northern Black Sea region.” These territories, to the south of the lands of Zaporizhya Cossacks, nominally belonged to the Ottoman Empire before the 1780’s, though Ukrainians lived there since the beginning of time. Only individual steppe regions were occupied by Turk peoples, which were called “Tatars” or “the Horde.” Ukrainians from all parts of Rzech Pospolyta and later Russia fled to the Ottomans, whose government was only nominal, to escape persecution and hanging. This is not to account for the stable Ukrainian population which had lived these since the times of the Kyivan Rus.

In the end of the 17th century, before the emergence of Russia itself, let along Novorossiya – the Cossack scribe Petro Ivanenko came to Sich. The united with the Tatars and southern Ukrainian Cossacks and tried to conduct a rebellion against Muscovia. He did not succeed, however Ivanenko – or Petryk, as he was known to the local populations, – became the Hetman of Khanate Ukraine in 1695. Therefore the Ukrainian population of the lands of Yedisan and Yedishkul – the modern parts of Odesa, Mykolayiv, Kherson, Zaporizhya and Donetsk oblasts. He admitted only the power of the Crimean Khan and the Turkish Sultan. His subjects that inhabited these lands were called “Tatar people” in the Hetmanate. The name “Khanate Ukraine” emerges in the documents of the pre-Petro Tsar chancellery. So Cossack territories speed all the way to the south. The population there was mostly Ukrainians and Tatars.

When the Russians occupied the South, the Turks – Nogays mostly – were almost all thrown out, and the “freed lands” were populated by colonists: near the Ukrainians, the placed Serbs, the Bulgarians, Volokhs, Greeks, Germans. The Russians started to emerge there in the end of the 19th century – first the Lipovans, the pagans that fled the aggressive predecessors of Patriarch Kirill. And later the empire governors moved towards the cities gradually. However the percentage of Ukrainians in the south always constituted at least 70%, and sometimes even more.

“Novorossiya” lands were Ukrainian long before Grigoriy Potemkin and the Russian “colonisation.” And Novorossiysk, which Putin mentions, is the temporary name of Katerynoslav (now named Dnipro). It became Novorossiysk in the time of Pavel I. The new emperor, Alexandr I, returned the old name of the city. The current city of Novorossiysk emerged on the Black Sea coast when Russia began invading Northern Caucasus. Before 1838 the Turkish fortress Sudzhuk-kale was located there.

Kharkiv has never been in any “Novorossiya” at all. It is Slobozhanshchina. Just like the far north of Donetsk oblast and the entire northern part of Luhansk oblast. By the way, together with the Novorossiya, Catherine created the Sloboda-Ukrainian government in the south of the Hetmanate – this was its official name, and Kharkiv was its capital. And Bessarabia – the Dnistrian part of modern Odesa oblast – became part of Russia in 1812, 10 years after the disappearance of “Novorossiya” in the Ukrainian steppes.


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