#AceHistory2Research – UKRAINE – April 22 – When President Vladimir Putin described Donetsk as “Novorossia” in his call-in show late last week and stressed the region’s ties to Russia, he left out the fact that the region’s capital was actually founded by a Welsh engineer and entrepreneur named John Hughes.
Imagine the scene. It is 1870 and a hundred ironworkers from Merthyr Tydfil, Dowlais and Rhymney suddenly find themselves in the wilds of Czarist Russia, in the area we now know as the Ukraine.
“This is Novorossia: Kharkov, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa did not belong to Ukraine in tsarist times,” Putin said. “All these territories were transferred to Ukraine in the 1920’s by the Soviet government.
But what exactly is Donbass, where armed separatists are so determined to create their own autonomous state?
The area over which Russia and Ukraine have locked horns for the past several weeks has an especially complex history, one that may be unknown even to the separatists touting a “People’s Republic of Donetsk” who have captured government buildings and hoisted the self-proclaimed autonomy’s red, black and blue flag on their masts.
Hughes left his mark on Donbass after receiving permission from the Russian tsarist government in 1868 to develop metal works there, and a year later he founded the area as Yuzovka — derived from the Russian pronunciation of Hughes’ name. It was later renamed Donetsk.
The term “Novorossia” goes back even further and denotes territory of modern-day south-eastern Ukraine that was conquered by the Russian Empire from the Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Turkey in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Novorossiya (Russian: Новоро́ссия, Ukrainian: Новоросія; literally New Russia) is a historical term denoting an area north of the Black Sea which was conquered by the Russian Empire at the end of the 18th century.
It included the southern part of the Zaporizhian Sich and the steppes between the Zaporizhian Sich and the northern coast of the Black Sea which had previously been controlled for centuries by the Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Turkey.
Administratively the newly incorporated area became known as the Novorossiysk Governorate with Novorossiysk (present-day Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk, not to be confused with present-day Novorossiysk, Russian Federation) as its capital. In the 19th century Novorossiya was the name of the General Government centred in Odessa, a major port on the north-west coast of the Black Sea.
Novorossiya was changing during the beginning of the 19th century due to the intensive movement of Russians who rapidly created towns, villages and agricultural colonies in the area.
The word Donetsk refers to the Donetsk coal basin, which stretches roughly from the Dnipropetrovsk region in Ukraine to the Rostov region in Russia. It is also just one of many terms for areas of modern-day southeastern Ukraine and south-western Russia with roots in different historical periods, from the 16th century to the Soviet era.
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