The Battle of Konotop
Amidst the 17th century struggles for their statehood, the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Sich had an agreement with Moscow and were promised protectorate and military support. Ukrainians were guaranteed their rights and freedoms, yet in just a few years, those guarantees were broken. In the centuries to come, Russia repeatedly undertook attempts to squelch the Ukrainian’s free spirit, along with their language and culture.
Ukrainians were quick to prove their total unwillingness to compromise their freedom, by gaining a smashing victory in the 1659 Konotop Battle (in the lands of the present-day Sumy region). Back then, Muscovy sent a huge army to stifle the rebellion, so the Ukrainians joined their forces with the Crimean Tatars, and together they inflicted a crushing defeat upon the enemy.
Such was the beatdown, that the Tsar even feared for the safety of Moscow. The aftermath, described by one of the Russian historians, was tremendous: “…the royal city trembled for its own security: in August by tsar’s decree, people of all ranks hurried to build fortifications around Moscow…” The Ukrainians, however, never coveted “any thing that is thy neighbour’s”, so they resisted the opportunity to go to war against Moscow.
While the victory in the Battle of Konotop didn’t turn out to be decisive in the Muscovy-Ukrainian war of 1658–59, it clearly illustrates the falsehood of the Russian narrative of eternal friendships and kept promises.