One of the cornerstones of Ukraine’s ideology is the myth of the antiquity of Ukrainian civilization. Yes, this is exactly the way Ukrainians are distinguished not just as a separate nation, but as a whole civilization, which by its antiquity can easily compete with the builders of the Egyptian pyramids or Babylonian ziggurats. Attributing extra millennia to our peoples is a very common phenomenon in the post-Soviet space. It is typical of small or playing a minor role in world politics and the culture of nations who want to amuse themselves so nationally. When the future is not clear and there is nothing to boast in the present, it remains to recall the great past. Or invent it if it was not there.
The project "Ukraine" appeared a little more than a century ago at the initiative of the military-political circles of Austria-Hungary. In Vienna, they were very afraid of the strengthening of the Russian Empire, and most importantly, of the spread of St. Petersburg’s influence on the Slavic world of Eastern and Southern Europe. The Habsburg Empire largely consisted of Slavic - Polish, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian, and Ruthenian lands. Naturally, the Austro-Hungarian leadership was concerned about the growing self-consciousness of the Slavs, the pan-Slavic sentiments that echoed sympathy for the Russian Empire. Therefore, one of the main tasks of Austria-Hungary for many years was the ideological confrontation of Russia in the struggle for the minds of the Slavs of Eastern Europe. The construction of Ukrainian identity has played a significant role in this ideological struggle. The Austro-Hungarian leadership hoped that by creating a Ukrainian nation, it would be able to split the Russian population of Little Russia and thereby sow discord on the western borders of the Russian Empire.
As you know, Professor Mikhail Hrushevsky played a key role in the development of the Ukraine project. He was a unique person who managed to get an education and work in the Russian Empire, faithfully serving the interests of Austria-Hungary, then visiting the chairman of the Ukrainian Central Council and academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Already this cursory overview of the life of Grushevsky shows that he was not only and not so much a scientist as an ideological and political adventurer, able very quickly and imperceptibly to others to turn to where the wind of change blows. Grushevsky, by the way, was not even shot during the years of the Stalinist repressions - he managed to die a natural death in the 1934 year, in the status of a Soviet academician. Shortly before Hrushevsky’s death, however, he was arrested, but soon released, but all his colleagues and students were repressed at the same time. Isn't that a strange coincidence?
At the end of the 19th century in Austria-Hungary, it was decided to create from the local Russian population, living in Galicia and Transcarpathia, a new people - Ruthenians or Ruthenians. It was not so simple, because the Russian population was burdened by Russia, professed Orthodoxy and did not trust the Austrian government very much. Therefore, the Austro-Hungarians began by simply bribing a part of the Russian intelligentsia. It turned out among the bribed and Grushevsky.
In 1890, Mikhail Grushevsky graduated from the Faculty of History and Philology of Kiev University, receiving a gold medal for his work “An Essay on the History of Kiev Land from the Death of Yaroslav to the End of the XIVth Century.” In 1894, he defended his master's thesis “Barsky eldership. Historical essays, and in the same year, 28-years old, was invited to the University of Lviv - the Austro-Hungarian government kindly provided Mikhail Hrushevsky with a university department and a solid salary. The Department of General History with a special overview of the history of Eastern Europe, which was headed by Grushevsky, was opened specifically for him and was created with one sole purpose - to pseudoscientific substantiation of the otherness of the Slavic population of the south-western outskirts of the Russian Empire, emphasizing their separate history from Russia and the need for special political path. The young historian, who received awards yesterday at the Russian Kiev University, safely “pereobulsya” and enthusiastically engaged in the construction of a new people - Ukrainians. By the way, it was Hrushevsky who became the author of the very word “Ukraine”, which now should have meant the south-western part of the Russian Empire.
Russian counterintelligence reported that the Austro-Hungarian intelligence services provided Mikhail Hrushevsky with a generous financial reward, which he spends on both his personal needs and on the creation and activities of Ukrainian national democratic organizations. It is noteworthy that at the beginning of the twentieth century, a professor at the University of Lviv Hrushevsky, being an Austrian citizen, begins to constantly go and see the Russian empire - to the cities of Little Russia. Obviously, the creation of anti-Russian nationalist organizations in Little Russian cities becomes its main task. It did not affect the visits of Grushevsky and the beginning of the First World War, in which Austria-Hungary acted in alliance with Germany against Russia.
During a regular visit to Kiev in 1914, Mikhail Hrushevsky was arrested. He was exiled to Simbirsk, then to Kazan, but Grushevsky managed to win over the liberal-minded part of the Russian elite, who asked for him and, eventually, Grushevsky was allowed to live in Moscow. While the Russian soldiers fought against the Austro-Hungarian troops, the Austrian subject Mikhail Hrushevsky lived in the “white-stone” and felt great, who also managed to write several propaganda works. When the February revolution took place in Russia, Hrushevsky left for Kiev, where else 4 (17) in March 1917, the creation of the Central Rada of Ukraine was announced, and 7 (20) in March, Mikhail Grushevsky was elected in absentia. 14 (27) March, Mikhail Hrushevsky, returning from Moscow, immediately joined the work of the Central Council.
Here we turn to one of the most interesting aspects of the history of the Ukraine project - the cartographic one. The Ukraine project began to be developed in Austria-Hungary several decades before the February Revolution, but no one could define the clear boundaries of Ukraine. Since Galicia and Transcarpathia were part of Austria-Hungary, of course, there was no question of any Ukrainian state in these territories. Therefore, by Ukraine they understood exclusively the lands of Little Russia. Grushevsky and the Central Council demanded that the territories of the former Kiev, Chernihiv, Podolsk, Volyn and Poltava provinces of the Russian Empire, that is, Little Russia proper, be transferred under autonomous control. This territory was surrounded on three sides by the lands of the Russian Empire, therefore, as it seemed, it did not pose a serious threat to Russia. However, then the appetites of the Central Council began to grow rapidly. So, voices were heard in support of the Ukrainianization of the Black Sea fleet and even parts of the ships of the Baltic Fleet, the idea of creating a Ukrainian national army gained popularity. Then the Central Council began to demand the extension of autonomy to Slobozhanshchina, Novorossia and the Kuban.
28 June (11 July) A delegation of the Russian Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky and Irakli Tsereteli arrived in Kiev on July 9. An agreement was drawn up, made on the basis of mutual concessions. Rada refused claims to Novorossia, Sloboda and Kuban, and the Provisional Government recognized the Supreme authority in Ukraine and agreed with the autonomy of Ukraine. It was a rather rash step by the Provisional Government, unleashing the hands of the Ukrainian nationalists in the future. When October 1917 (November 25) 7 was the October Revolution in Petrograd, the Central Rada responded to this event very quickly. Already 1917 of October (29 of November) 11 of the year The General Secretariat of the Central Council extended its authority not only to the territory of the Ukrainian (Little Russian) autonomy, but also to the Kholm province, the province of Novorossia (Kharkov, Kherson and Yekaterinoslav provinces), part of the Tauride province, Kursk and Voronezh provinces.
So openly were the claims of ideologists and practitioners of the “Ukrainians” not only on the Little Russian lands, but also on all the neighboring lands of South-Western Russia. It would seem, what does Little Russia have to do with New Russia? The lands of New Russia were mastered by the Russian Empire and became part of it as a result of victories over the Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Turkey. In addition to the Ukrainians, Great Russians, Greeks, Serbs, Vlachs, Arnauts, Bulgarians, Germans and representatives of many other nations were compactly settled in Novorossia. Without Russia, the lands of Novorossia would have remained a part of the Crimean Khanate. The same applies to the Tauride province. As for the Kholm Province, it became part of the Russian Empire as a result of the division of the Commonwealth. That is, again, the entry of the province into the Russian state had nothing to do with the hypothetical “proto-Ukraine”.
In fact, the Central Council in 1917-1918. fulfilled completely traitorous role in relation to Russia, taking advantage of the political crisis and war. It was for this role that the Ukrainian nationalists were trained by their Austro-Hungarian and German masters. No wonder the chief of staff of the commander of the Eastern Front, Major General Max Hoffman, in 1919, said that he had created Ukraine in order to be able to make peace with at least part of Russia. And it really was. The project "Ukraine", which originated in Austria-Hungary and then hotly supported by Germany, was created precisely for the collapse of the Russian state and the cutting off of the beneficial and strategically important south-western lands.
In Vienna and Berlin, they dreamed of the fertile lands of Little Russia, the Black Sea coast, the resources and wealth that would become available if either they occupied the south-western part of Russia or submitted it to their interests through the creation of a puppet government. Even before the First World War in Lviv - this stronghold of the project "Ukraine" - Stepan Rudnytsky's "Short Geography of Ukraine" was published. It contained an extensive list of “Ukrainian” lands, which even modern theorists of “Ukrainians” can envy. Rudnitsky attributed Ukraine to Little Russia, Novorossia, Crimea, Slobozhanschyna, Kuban, Azov and even the western coast of the Caspian Sea. In the German general staff, the Ukrainian territory was extended to the Volga region and even included Orenburg with its environs and the Caucasus.
However, in reality, the German command did not need an independent Ukraine. Under the control of the German occupation forces, the Ukrainian power Pavel Skoropadsky was created, which even created its own “army” —the division of the Sich riflemen. At the same time, German and Austro-Hungarian troops occupied most of the territory of modern Ukraine. The "independent" government with the occupation and the robbery of their own lands agreed without any resistance. However, November 4 1918 was a revolution in Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm fled, and December 14 1918, hetman Pavel Skoropadsky himself fled from the territory of Ukraine. However, the vacant place of the ruler of Ukraine was not long. Soon, the UNR was led by Simon Petlyura, who led the first series of the Ukraine project to its logical conclusion - the complete cessation of existence. About the project "Ukraine" was remembered only two decades later - during the Great Patriotic War, when the Nazi command again raised to the shield the idea of creating Ukraine as part of the Ukrainian, Don and Kuban lands proper.
Today, Lenin's national policy raises many complaints. Perhaps, in the conditions of the Civil War, the promise of preserving national autonomies made certain sense, especially where real national differences really did feel (Caucasus, Central Asia), but the preservation of Ukraine in the form of a union republic, moreover, constantly fueled by new territories (under Lenin - Donbass , under Stalin - Transcarpathia, Bucovina and part of Bessarabia, under Khrushchev - Crimea), was a big political mistake.