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(3) By now readers will know that the Ukrainian names for 'Vladimir'  and 'Kiev' are 'Volodymyr' and 'Kyiv'. I've never mastered any consistent method for the transcription of Russian or Ukrainian names or words and the spellings I use are perfectly arbitrary. They should be taken as - hopefully recognisable - symbols of the persons, places or things they represent.

Both Russians and Ukrainians trace their own historical and cultural continuity back to the Kingdom of Rus', centred on Kiev, and the conversion of its King Vladimir to Christianity in 988 AD. Vladimir had previously been a persecutor of Christians. According to Dimitry Pospielovsky: 'the early part of Vladimir's reign was marked by the only known period of Russian history when human sacrifices were made to pagan gods and Christians were actively persecuted.' (4) He says that Vladimir was ruling over a diverse mixture of Slavonic, Finnic and Lithuanian tribes and initially had erected in Kiev a collection of statues representing all the different gods of these different peoples (something similar existed in the Ka'bah in Mecca until Muhammad got his hands on it). But he seems to have decided, like Constantine before him, that a totalitarian religion - a religion which made exclusive claims to the truth about divine things - was the best means of uniting a diverse people. The story has it that he was confronted with a choice between four such faiths - Christianity as promoted by Constantinople, Christianity as promoted by 'the Germans', Judaism or Islam. He chose Christianity as promoted by Constantinople. It's interesting to note the choice offered between German Christianity (the Catholic Church) and Greek Christianity (the Orthodox Church), Old Rome and New Rome. There were already very marked tensions between the two but the date conventionally used to mark the final division between them - the mutual exchange of anathemas - 1054, comes in the following century.

(4) Dimitry Pospielovsky: The Orthodox Church in the History of Russia, Crestwood NY, St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1998, p.19. Apart from Pospielovsky my main source for this article will be different articles in the very impressive Encyclopedia of Ukraine, available online at Encyclopedia was initiated in Paris by the Ukrainian emigré Shevchenko Scientific Society under the direction of the Ukrainian nationalist Volodymyr Kubijovyč, one of the organisers of the SS Galicia Division in 1943.

Rus' was not the first Slav kingdom to convert to Christianity. In the ninth century, Cyril and Methodius, the 'apostles of the Slavs', started out from Constantinople to Moravia, where they entered into conflict with missionaries responsible to Rome. But Cyril was to die in Rome and Methodius became bishop of a diocese (Pannonia) responsible to Rome. Both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches regard them as Saints. The first Slav kingdom converted to Christianity under Constantinople was Bulgaria in 864, closely followed by Serbia. Poland - or at least the Polish King and his court - was converted from Rome in 966.

Kievan Rus' derived its importance from its situation on the Dnieper (Ukrainian Dnipro) river, part of the 'Varangian route' which linked Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and thence to Constantinople. At its height the principality covered almost the whole route without, however, actually reaching the Black Sea. The coastal area - including Crimea (already converted as it happens to Christianity) was held by a Turkic people, the Cumans, or Polovtsians. The Lay of Igor's Campaign (late twelfth century if we accept its authenticity) tells the story of an unsuccessful late twelfth century campaign against the Cumans. It is the basis of Borodin's opera Prince Igor, with its famous 'Polovtsian Dances'.

Kievan Rus', more or less united under Vladmir (r980-1015), Yaroslav the Wise (r1036-1054) and Vladimir Monomakh (r1113-25), nonetheless tended to fall apart in rival principalities, definitively so in the late twelfth century. Without going into details (of which there are many!), two important cultural centres emerged with resonance for the future - Novgorod 'the Great' and Vladimir-Suzdal in the North, along the Varangian route, and Galicia-Volhynia, which connected Kiev on the westward land route across the Carpathian mountains to Hungary and Poland and the area of West Roman influence. Novgorod and Vladimir could be described as the cradle of what was to become Muscovite Russia, Galicia-Volhynia as the cradle, or at least the stronghold, of what was to become much later Ukrainian nationalism.

The whole area was overwhelmed by the arrival of the 'Golden Horde' - the Western section of the Mongol Empire which stretched eastward as far as China and Southward to Persia and Mesopotamia. It first appeared in the Kievan territories in 1223 on a plundering raid but came in more definitively under Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. Kiev was sacked and its residents massacred in 1240. 1240 was also the year that Prince Alexander (nineteen years old at the time) saved Novgorod from the Swedes at the Battle of the Neva, thus getting the name Alexander Nevsky. In 1242 he saved Novgorod from the German and Estonian Knights of the Livonian Order, in the battle on the frozen Lake Peipus, memorably portrayed in Eisenstein's film. In fighting the Catholic West, Alexander was rejecting an appeal of the Pope to fight against the more formidable Tatars. According to Pospielovsky, the Metropolitan of Kiev, Kirill II, persuaded his patron, the Galician-Volhynian Prince, Daniel Romanovich to do likewise. It was under Daniel that the town of Lviv was founded, and under his son, Lev Danylovich (r1264-1301) that Lviv became his capital.

The Tatar yoke, so long as it was acknowledged, was relatively light. It mainly consisted of requiring the payment of a tribute. Nonetheless Metropolitan Kirill did not live in the now devastated Kiev, and his successor, the Greek Maxim, while maintaining the title, Metropolitan of Kiev, transferred his seat in 1299 northwards to Vladimir, on the Klyazma River. Vladimir itself was in a poor state after being sacked by the Tatars in 1238. This transfer of the Kiev metropolitanate northward prompted Lev's son, with the approval of Constantinople, Yurii to establish a rival metropolitanate in Halych (South of Lviv in what is now the oblast of Ivano-Frankivsk) but this was hardly a great success since when the Volhynian, Peter, supported by Lev, went to Constantinople he was directed by the Patriarch to go to Moscow, where he died. The separate Halych metropolitanate fell into disuse. 

In all these developments we see the separation of 'Muscovy' on the one hand and, on the other, Galicia-Volhynia from their former heartland of Kiev. The separation was hardened when the area covered by Galicia-Volhynia came under the domination of Poland and Lithuania. This is, I think, the real historical distinction between the people who became 'Ukrainians' and the people who became 'Russians'. The Ukrainians are the inheritors of Kievan Rus' who came under Polish (and Lithuanian, but most importantly Polish) domination.