The Despatch Christmas Edition 2023

THE despatch CHRISTMAS 2023

Ukraine and Russia: their Historical Ties By Thomas Hibbert

Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus have major historical ties, ranging back to the

Viking Age when the Vikings founded the Kingdom of Kievan Rus.

This was kingdom that was born out of trading outposts on the way to the

lucrative capital of Constantinople. The Vikings intermingled, and married

into the local Slavic population, just like other Vikings did in northern

England. Kievan Rus bordered many dangerous tribes such as the

Pechenegs and the Khazars, so warriors were in demand to protect their


Harald Hardrada was one such warrior. He served in the Rus army, and

like many others, went on to serve in the Varangian Guard, an elite

fighting core of soldiers for the Byzantines, one that the Rus was

instrumental in creating. Hardrada met his end at the Battle of Stanford

Bridge in 1066,

A new tribe, the Cumans, arrived on the scene, and the Byzantines

began to slowly crumble, losing valuable trade for the Rus in the 1000s.

Kievan Rus stumbled on for two more centuries, losing land, trade, and

power thanks to internal and external war, until 1238, when they were

subdued by the Mongols and turned into a puppet Mongols.

Moscow then began to develop into an economic powerhouse in the

region. The new Duchy of Muscovy expanded into Mongol and Lithuanian


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