History of Tension in Ukraine Goes Back Centuries

While the recent events in Ukraine tend to be most often explained in light of recent history, the tensions over whether Ukraine should lean to the West, and align itself with the European Union, or should remain tied to Russia have much deeper roots than the Soviet and post-Soviet era. In Talking Points Memo, Professor of History Magda Teter writes that in fact,  the current clash between western and eastern Ukraine are a fruit of centuries of political and cultural developments that only in the 20th century forced the two parts into one Ukraine.

“These pulls and pushes between east and west in Ukraine are not new, their roots go back some five centuries,” Teter writes. “It does not mean that the conflict has such deep roots but rather that the long separate histories of the two parts of Ukraine have become a major destabilizing factor.”