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"New Russia" redirects here. For other uses, see New Russia (disambiguation).
This article is about the historical term. For the political party, see Novorossiya (political party). For the separatist entity, see Federal State of Novorossiya.
A map of Novorossiya (New Russia), c. 1897.
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Novorossia (Russian: Новоро́ссия, Ukrainian: Новоросія, Romanian: Noua Rusie; literally New Russia) was a historical term denoting an area north of the Black Sea, presently part of Russia and Ukraine. The region was conquered by the Russian Empire at the end of the 18th century from the Ottoman Empire and remained under its control until the October Revolution and the collapse of the empire in 1917. In modern terms this historic territory overlaid what is now Donetsk Oblast, small portions of Luhansk Oblast, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Zaporizhia Oblast, Mykolaiv Oblast, Kherson Oblast, Odessa Oblast and Crimea in Ukraine, Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, Rostov Oblast, and the Republic of Adygea in Russia.

When it was conquered by the Russian Empire, this territory 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 Kievan Rus, Lithuania, 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 centered in Odessa, a major port on the north-west coast of the Black Sea. When it was taken from the Ottomans, the region was sparsely populated and home to several ethnic groups, of which the most numerous were Romanians and Ruthenians (Ukrainians). According to the first Tsarist census of the Yedisan region conducted in 1793, after the expulsion of the Nogai Tatars, 49 villages out of 67 between the Dniester and the Southern Bug were Romanian.[1] East of the Southern Bug, in the so-called New Serbia region, in 1757 the largest ethnic group were Romanians at 75%, followed by Serbs at 12% and 13% others.[2] The Russian authorities commenced a program of colonization of the region when they acquired it, encouraging large migrations into the region, including Romanians from Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania, as well as Ukrainians, Russians and Germans; in 1792 the Russian government declared that the region between the Dniester and the Bug was to become a new principality named "New Moldavia", under Russian suzerainty.[3]

Novorossiya changed during the beginning of the 19th century due to the intensive movement of colonists of various nationalities, who rapidly created towns, villages and agricultural colonies in the area. The area had been devastated by nomadic raids since the 12th century. During the Russo-Turkish Wars, the major Turkish fortresses of Ozu-Cale, Akkerman, Khadzhibei, Kinburn and many others were conquered and destroyed. New cities and settlements were established in their places.


Ukraine 1648 (south on top) with a broad belt of "loca deserta", Latin for devasted areas
A map of what was called New Russia overlaid on recent map of the Ukraine.

When the Russian Empire annexed the territory of Novorossiya from the Ottomans in the 18th century after the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Russian officialdom established the Novorossiysk Governorate there, administered from Kremenchuk. Historically, the Russians had known the area as the Wild Fields or Devastated Fields, as several centuries of wars had driven off agriculture and urban settlement. The Wild Fields had covered roughly the modern territories of southern Ukraine; some[who?] say they extended into Russia.

The western part of the area (between the Dniester and the Dnieper rivers) was known as Dykra in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (which controlled the territory from 1363 to 1399) and subsequently as the province of Yedisan (17th and 18th centuries), an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire, and was previously inhabited mostly by ethnic Nogai Tatars who had moved into the area with the demise of the Golden Horde at the beginning of the 16th century. The eastern part of this territory formed an integral part of the Zaporozhian Sich - the Ruthenian/Ukrainian Cossacks had settled and ruled there from the 15th century.

The Russian Empire gradually gained control over the area, signing peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate and with the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish Wars of 1735–39, 1768–74, 1787–92 and 1806–12. Saint Petersburg forcefully liquidated the Free lands of the Zaporizhian Sich in the 18th century, thus eliminating the independent rule of the area by ethnic Ukrainian Cossacks, as they became inconvenient for Russian colonization. Prince Grigori Potemkin (1739-1791) directed the Russian colonization of the land at the end of 18th century - the Russian Empress Catherine the Great granted him the powers of an absolute ruler over the area from 1774. The new rulers of Novorossiya gave out land generously to the Russian dvoryanstvo (nobility), and the enserfed peasantry - mostly from Ukraine and fewer from Russia - immigrated to cultivate the then sparsely populated steppe. Catherine the Great also invited European settlers to these newly conquered lands: Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks, Macedonians[citation needed], Albanians, Germans, Poles, Italians, and others. Inhabitants of the former New Russia commonly speak the Russian language in cities and some areas outside, while Ukrainian generally predominates in rural areas, smaller towns, and villages. With its history, the ethnic composition varies. Apart from ethic Russians and Ukrainians, the population includes communities of Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, and many others. Multiple ethnicities participated in the founding of the cities of Novorossiya. For example:

  • Zaporizhzhya started as a Cossack fort
  • Odessa, founded in 1794 on the site of a Romanian or Tatar village by a Spanish general in Russian service, Jose de Ribas, had a French mayor, Richelieu (in office 1803-1814)
  • Donets'k, founded in 1869, was originally named Yuzovka (Yuzivka) in honor of John Hughes, the Welsh industrialist who developed the coal region of the Donbass

The 1897 All-Russian Empire Census statistics show that Novorossiya included some areas where people spoke Ukrainian as their mother tongue (especially in rural areas), with Great Russians and Jews dominating in city areas.[4][5][6]

Language Kherson Guberniya Yekaterinoslav Guberniya Tavrida Guberniya
Ukrainian 53.4% 68.9% 42.2%
Russian 21.0% 17.3% 27.9%
Belarusian 0.8% 0.6% 6.7%
Polish 2.1% 0.6% 0.6%
Bulgarian 0.9% - 2.8%
Moldovan and Romanian 5.3% 0.4% 0.2%
German 4.5% 3.8% 5.4%
Jewish 11.8% 4.6% 3.8%
Greek 2.3% 2.3% 1.2%
Tatar 8.2% 8.2% 13.5%
Turkish 2.6% 2.6% 1.5%
Total Population 2,733,612 2,311,674 1,447,790

Integration into Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic[edit]

Ukraine demograpics in 1925

After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, Novorossiya ceased to exist as an administrative component of the Russian Empire. For several years, the rule of the region was uncertain as the area was enmeshed in war. It was claimed as a part of the Ukrainian People's Republic as well as the Communist Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets. Theaters of the Russian Civil War also occurred in this region between the Red Army and the White Army, as well as the Black Army (Anarchist) of Nestor Makhno which was based in Yekaterinoslav. Moreover, both the Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic and the Odessa Soviet Republic were declared on the territory of Novorossiya, although neither lasted for more than two months. Eventually, the Soviet forces gained control to the exclusion of all others.

In 1922, most of the former region of Novorossiya was added to the newly formed Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union, as part of the then-prevailing policy of Korenization or "putting down roots," in which territories of the Soviet Union were allocated based upon the ethnic composition of those territories. Because this area historically had a majority Ukrainian population,[citation needed] the Soviets allocated it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic under this policy, which emphasized building up the nations of the new Soviet Union.

After Joseph Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union in the late 1920s, he reversed the policy of Korenization. The former territory of Novorossiya, which was now the southeastern part of Ukraine, was a prime target of Stalin's reforms,[citation needed] and suffered significant population loss during the Holodomor (artificial[citation needed] famine) of 1932-33 and the Great Purge of 1937-38. The region also experienced significant population loss during World War II (1941-1945) (called the Great Patriotic War by the Soviet Union), and its Jewish population was nearly destroyed in the Holocaust. After the war, it was redeveloped and its industry increased. Many settlers came in from other regions of the Soviet Union to replace the population lost due to these earlier events. After Ukraine obtained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the territory remained as an integral part of Ukraine's territory.

Present-day References[edit]

In a 1994 interview, the head of the separatist state of Transnistria in Moldova stated that the state was "an inalienable part of the Russian state's southern regions" including Odessa, Crimea, and other Ukrainian oblasts, which were collectively part of the Novorossiya region.[7] Dmitry Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center wrote that in 2003 some Russian academics discussed the idea of a pro-Russia Novorossiya state being formed out of southern Ukraine in response to moves towards bringing Ukraine into NATO.[8]

On April 17, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the term during his annual call-in show for residents of the Russian Federation, in connection to Novorossiya administrative area (Russian: Новороссийская область) that existed during Russian Empire and after that in civil war from 1919 until it was given in a march of 1920 to Ukrainian Soviet Republic and was never before part of Ukraine.[9][10][11] Putin admits Crimea troops were his, calls east Ukraine 'new Russia'.[12] Protesters in eastern Ukraine also used the term for south and east ("South-East") of Ukraine.[8][9] Polish defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak worried that Putin might be pursuing a new doctrine aimed at a recreation of the Soviet Union as "New Russia".[13] Putin's definition of Novorossiya, however, was historically inaccurate in that it conflicted with and was more expansive than the original definition; he seemed to include the cities of Kharkiv and Luhans'k in his definition of "Novorossiya," while they were never part of its original territory. Also, he claimed during the call-in show that "only God knows" why Novorossiya was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR in 1922.

On 24 May 2014, a day before the Ukrainian presidential elections, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic signed a document announcing their intention to unite as the Union of Peoples Republics also referred to as the Union of Novorossiya, the Novorossiya Union or simply as Novorossiya. This would not constitute a single state immediately as the two republics would continue to function as two independent/ autonomous republics until practical issues of everyday government were resolved. They also invited other regions of South Eastern Ukraine to join Novorossiya in the future.[14]

List of founded cities[edit]

Many of the cities that were founded during the colonial period are major cities today.

First wave[edit]

Second wave[edit]

Third wave[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°30′N 34°30′E / 47.5°N 34.5°E / 47.5; 34.5