Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know by Serhy Yekelchyk:
The “reunification” of Ukraine with Russia was the official term for the 1654 Pereiaslav Treaty; the term was prescribed for obligatory use in Soviet historical works and public discourse by the Communist Party’s Central Committee in 1954. The concept of the treaty as a “restoration” of a single nation’s ancient unity resonates to this day with Russians in particular, and for good reason. When Soviet ideologists gave it their stamp of approval in 1954 for the treaty’s tercentenary, they were actually resurrecting the axiom of pre-revolutionary Russian official discourse that Ukrainians lacked a separate national identity. Before the Central Committee’s authoritative pronouncement, Soviet historians of the prewar period had spoken less approvingly of Ukraine’s “incorporation” into the Russian state and even of the ensuing colonial exploitation of Ukraine and persecution of Ukrainian culture. Reverting to the language used in the Russian Empire removed any sense of guilt for tsarist policies and also muted the notion of Ukraine’s separate identity. “Reunification” was thus an ideologically loaded label, one implying inordinate closeness between Ukrainians and Russians. This was the historical narrative that the last generations to grow up in the Soviet Union learned in school.