‘Ukraine – Pays des Cossaques’ Map of 1670, Putin’s Geographic Blunder

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May 23, 2023. “Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday cited a 17th-Century map of Europe to back his discredited thesis that Ukraine isn’t a real country, a claim that he’s used to justify Russia’s unprovoked invasion. But, even on the terms of Putin’s thesis, there was a problem: the document clearly marks part of the territory as being “Ukraine“. In a meeting with the chairman of Russia’s constitutional court, Valery Zorkin, the two pored over a map made by a 17th century cartographer for France’s King Louis XIV. The Kremlin published a video of the encounter, in which Putin and Zorkin hold the map up as proof that the Ukrainian nation is a historical fiction. The map Putin inspected appears to be a copy of one made in 1674 by French cartographer Hubert Jaillot, showing parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, with cities and territories marked out. Here is a screengrab from the Kremlin video, and underneath a clearer copy of the map from France’s national library. Putin seized on the map to back one of the core arguments he has made in support of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine — that it’s not a real country and so should be incorporated into Russia. “The Soviet government created Soviet Ukraine. This is well known to everyone. Until then, there was never any Ukraine in the history of humanity,” Putin said. In fact, the map does clearly show Ukraine. Below is a zoomed-in version of the section highlighted in red above. The text translates to “Ukraine or land of the Cossacks”, and sits next to the Dnipro river that runs through modern-day Ukraine. The capital Kyiv, spelled Kiow on the map, is also visible nearby. Back then, what was to become Russia was known in parts of Europe as the Grand Duchy of Muscovy… In the 17th century, when the map was made, Ukraine had a distinct culture and language from Russia, and Cossack tribes were emerging who asserted their independence from Polish rulers and Moscow.” 

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The Yahoo Article quoted above makes a serious mistake when talking about “emerging Cossacks tribes”. The Cossack State was so powerful already in 1594, that the European Emperor sent his emissary seeking alliance. The famous painting “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan” describes the events that took place afterward and preceded the year of Jailot’s map.

As one of the most famous comments under the Yahoo article correctly observed: “It’s actually quite easy with a little research to find out Ukraine was a country of its own long before Russia got hold of it. And Ukraine was actually a power in that region before Russia was considered a power”.

Another observation was that the map showed the area of present-day St. Petersburg as Swedish and Belarus as Polish. By Moscow’s logic, those lands should be returned to those countries.

The “Gardariki, Ukraine” e-book has little-known facts about that power showing itself starting in the 9th century AD when there was no Moscow yet.

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