What is Ukraine? This is a difficult question. Russia was born in Kiev. The first historic Russian empire was Kievan-Rus, which was founded by the Vikings and the King Rurik, who sailed from the Baltic Sea through the rivers Daugava and Dnepr down to the Black Sea and Constantinople. In 882 CE they made Kyiv the capital of the first Russian kingdom. The Mongols put a final end to Kievan-Rus in the 13th century, but the Rurik dynasty then ruled from further north, in what was in the 15th century still just a small principality around another river city called Moscow. Only in 1598 did the ruling Ruriks die out in Moscow where they were succeeded by the Romanovs. Ukraine did not exist as a country for hundreds of years and was only revived (or created) after the Russian Revolution in 1917, just 105 years ago. Immediately after, Ukraine was absorbed again, by the Soviet Union and only reappeared once as an independent country again nearly by accident only 31 years ago in 1991, when Russia’s Boris Yeltsin got Ukraine’s Leonid Kuchma hooked on the idea of dissolving the Soviet Union in a coup declaring Russia and Ukraine independent.
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