Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 09.01.2018
Starting from the 4th through the 6th centuries AD, numerous aggressive Turkic hordes began to invade the steppe part of Ukraine. They were luredby rich pastures and an opportunity to attack the lands of the Slavs and the borders of Byzantium.
The Pechenegs started to establish themselves in the Ukrainian steppes since the late 9th century. This powerful tribe attacked, among others, the Byzantine Empire. After their defeat near Kyiv in 1036, they disappeared from the historical arena.
Turkic nomad leads a captive, image on a gold pitcher, 8th century.
In the mid-11th century, the Cumans invaded the Ukrainian steppes and rallied the remaining Pechenegs around themselves. The core of the Cuman horde was in the Donbas and Sloboda Ukraine.
In the 1090s, the Cumans repeatedly attacked the outskirts of Kyiv. The Kyivan army finally defeated the Cumans on the Molochna River (now in Zaporizhia Oblast) in 1103 and near Lubny in 1107. St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery was built in Kyiv to commemorate these victories.
In 1111, Prince Sviatopolk Iziaslavych of Kyiv and Volodymyr Monomakh of Pereiaslav defeated the Cumans on the Dehiia River and the Salnytsia River (now in Kharkiv Oblast) and seized the Cuman capital. The Cuman Khan Atrak fled to Georgia with his tribe. However, despite all these successes the Cumans were not subjugated and remained independent until the Mongol invasion.
A 12th-century chronicle reports that the Rusyns captured from the Cumans a flame thrower for shooting “Greek fire”. Kyiv stopped the Turkic hordes, while the Byzantine Empire suffered defeat at their hands in 1071.
Rus’ campaign against the Cumans, miniature, 14th century.
However, some Turkic families wanted to serve Kyivan princes in exchange for which they asked (and received) lands for settlements. These families, which were nicknamed “black klobuks” (kara klobuk), lived largely in the Ros region south of Kyiv. However, after the Mongol invasion the Horde took the remaining families of “black klobuks” back to Asia to prevent them from reinforcing Kyiv again. Their descendants formed the Karakalpak people which now live in Uzbekistan.
The campaigns of the Kyivan princes Sviatopolk Iziaslavych and Volodymyr Monomakh gave rise to the process of joining the Donbas lands to Ukraine. It lasted for half a millennium and ended as late as in the 15th and the 16th centuries when Ukrainian Cossack settlements reached the Don River.
Cuman khan, 13th century.
The Tmutorokan principality, located in the lands of the former Bosporan Kingdom, existed for 200 years, from the time it was conquered by Sviatoslav the Brave until the mid-12th century when it was seized by Byzantium. The families of the Halych princes Rostyslavovychi and the Chernihiv princes Olhovychi fought for control over the Crimea. Located away from the center of Rus’ by hundreds of kilometers, this principality remained faithful to Kyiv despite numerous hordes of foreign nomads roaming the area between them.