When Ukraine Was Part of Lithuania
In the news: Vladimir Putin – and even Alexei Navalny! – consider Ukrainians no different from, and historically tied to, Russia.
It's easy to dispute a supposed lack of difference between Ukrainians and Russians: take language (from wikipedia): Ukrainian is closer to Belarusian, Slovak, Polish and Czech than to Russian – 38% of Ukrainian vocabulary is different from Russian. The difference is similar to that between Spanish and Italian (33% different vocabulary), or French and Portuguese (39% different vocabulary).
Ukraine's historical tie with Russia? Consider the hundreds of years when much of today’s Ukraine was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania -- as depicted in historical maps, and in a 16th century map:
1370 - 1505: "The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania." 1963, from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Libraries: https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/
“During the 14th century, Poland and Lithuania fought wars against the Mongol invaders, and eventually most of Ukraine passed to the rule of Lithuania and Poland. More particularly, the lands of Volynia in the north and north-west passed to the rule of Lithuanian princes, while the south-west passed to the control of Poland (Galicia).
1392 - 1430: "Lithuania During the Reign of Grand Duke Vytautas." c. 1918, from east_euro_maps on eBay
"Most of Ukraine bordered parts of Lithuania, and some say that the name, "Ukraine" comes from the local word for "border," although the name "Ukraine" was also used centuries earlier. Lithuania took control of the state of Volynia in northern and northwestern Ukraine, including the region around Kyiv (Rus), and the rulers of Lithuania then adopted the title of ruler of Rus'.
Jan Babirecki: "Poland in the 15th Century." c. 1918, from http://rcin.org.pl
"Lithuania took control of the state of Volynia in northern and northwestern Ukraine, including the region around Kyiv (Rus), and the rulers of Lithuania then adopted the title of ruler of Rus'. Despite this, many Ukrainians (then known as Ruthenians, Latin for Rus) were in high positions of power in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, comprising local rulers, and gentry... During this time, Ukraine and Ukrainians saw relative prosperity and autonomy, with the Duchy functioning more like a joint Lithuanian-Ukrainian state, with freedom to practice Orthodox Christianity, speak Ukrainian (especially demonstrated by the significantly low linguistic overlap between the Ukrainian and Lithuanian languages), and continue to engage in Ukrainian culture practices, remaining unabated."