Background for understanding Ukraine and also the past in Eastern Europe and East of Europe

The Khazars[a] (/ˈxɑːzɑːrz/) were a semi-nomadic Turkic people that in the late 6th-century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russiasouthern UkraineCrimea, and Kazakhstan.[10] They created what for its duration was the most powerful polity to emerge from the break-up of the Western Turkic Khaganate.[11] Astride a major artery of commerce between Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Khazaria became one of the foremost trading empires of the early medieval world, commanding the western marches of the Silk Road and playing a key commercial role as a crossroad between China, the Middle East and Kievan Rus’.[12][13] For some three centuries (c. 650–965) the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus.[14]

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Khazar Khaganate, 650–850 click images for larger

We have to look into the past and beyond the borders of Europe to understand what is happening in Ukraine today. ABN

Khazar Khaganate and surrounding states, c. 820 (area of direct Khazar control in dark blue, sphere of influence in purple).

The Pontic steppes, c. 1015 (areas in blue possibly still under Khazar control).

The Russian-Turkic Ethnic Fusion

…Gumilev is mostly respected as an expert on the steppe tribes of inner Eurasia: the Scythians, the Xiongnu, the Huns, Turks, Khitai, Tanguts and Mongols. The most influential part of his work is about the relations that developed between the Russians and the steppe nomads, from Mongolia to Eastern Europe. This research is synthesized in his magnum opus, Ancient Rus and the Great Steppe, published three years before his death. Gumilev’s principal interest was in the khaganate known as the Golden Horde, which in the thirteenth century invaded and conquered the lands of ancient Russia.

He interpreted the reign of national hero and Orthodox saint Alexander Nevsky as the most important example of interethnic complementarity between the Slavs and the Tatars. He underscored the presence and influence of Nestorian Christians among the latter, and the historical importance of Nevsky’s friendship with the son of the great khan Batu. Their sworn “eternal brotherhood” formed an alliance “to halt the advance of the Germans, who wanted to reduce the remnants of the ancient Russian population to serfdom.” For his part, Nevsky sent his own troops to help the Golden Horde fight the Alans and other nomadic groups. This alliance enabled ancient Rus′ to resist the encroachment of the forces of the West under papal mandate, and was the key to Muscovy’s emergence as a great power. Ultimately, the interaction between Russo-Slavs and Tatar-Mongols must be viewed “not as the subjugation of Rus′ by the Golden Horde,” as traditionally depicted by the Westernized historiography elaborated under the Romanovs, but rather as an “ethnic symbiosis,” a union between two ethnies for their mutual benefit. Russia began its modern existence as a “Russian-Tatar country” and has remained so ever since.

The Russian-Turkic Ethnic Fusion

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