Vladimir Putin will never give up Ukraine, for, you see, among other reasons, his namesake is Ukrainian.
Below is the story of Vladimir the Great, followed by a brief history of the present.
Vladimir, afterwards known as “The Great”, and his son Yaroslav, afterwards known as “The Wise”, brought the kingdom of Kiev-Rus to its zenith in the 10th and 11th centuries. The modern states, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus all draw upon them for their heritage.
Historians consider the Kievan state to have been founded around 880. A hundred years later, Vladimir, upon the death of his father and a subsequent fratricidal war, fled the region, to his kinsmen in Norway. Returning in 978 with as many Norse soldiers as he could muster, he quickly captured Kiev, (present day capital of Ukraine), and expanded his dominion throughout the region. Within a few years, Vladimir consolidated the regions of eastern Europe from Kiev to the Baltic Sea, including present day Ukraine, Belarus, and a portion of Russia. During his reign and that of his son, Yaroslav, the kingdom known as Kiev-Rus reached its zenith.
A little later, Vladimir, having known great military success, and his dominion at peace around him, grew troubled in his thoughts and his mind pondered. Sensing the inferiority of his pagan shrines to the religions flourishing in the world, he sent emissaries to all parts to learn of the great religions that he may determine the best. Of Islam, upon learning that alcoholic drinks were forbidden said, “Drinking is the joy of all Rus. We cannot exist without that pleasure.” Upon questioning the ambassadors from the Jews, and learning of their loss of their home city Jerusalem, he concluded that they had been abandoned by God. His emmisaries visiter the Christian church of Germany and were unimpressed. But upon visiting the Byzantine church in Constantinople, and witnessing the majesty of their ceremonies during the festival, his emissaries reported back, “We know longer knew whether we were in Heaven or on Earth.”
His decision made, he was baptized, wed the daughter of royalty, returned to his land, destroyed the pagan landmarks, and commanded his people to follow Christian faith. Thus, was the Russian Orthodox Church born.
Yaroslav encountered family battles too following the death of his father in 1015, but by 1019, he had became the grand prince of Kiev, and by 1036 uncontested ruller of Kievan-Rus. Culture expanded in his days. He built Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novogrod. He was a great patron of learning and books, also promulgated the first east Slavic law code, the Rus Justice, which was further advanced by his sons upon his death in 1054.
In 2016, Vladimir Putin presented a statue honoring his namesake. The statue was erected in Moscow where Putin declared him a “unifier and defender of Russian lands.”
As one contemporary has noted, “Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.” Putin will never give up on Ukraine.