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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Nicholas Zharkikh

The fall of Kyiv in 1482 marked a turning point in the history of Eastern Europe, because much happened here for the first time:

– for the first time the attack of the Tatars on the territory of modern Ukraine gained international notoriety (in the area from Rome to Kholmogory – 3000 km and Perm – 3500 km) and was reflected in many sources;

– for the first time the Crimean Tatars went on a campaign led by the khan himself;

– for the first time the Tatars dared to attack a large fortified castle, the center of the province;

– for the first time the Tatars captured the voivodship center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania;

– for the first time we have clear evidence of Moscow’s strong influence on Lithuanian-Crimean relations;

– For the first time, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was forced to move because of events on its southern border.

The fact that Mengli-Girey dared to leave the Crimea for a campaign (at least for a short time) shows that he felt quite confident on his throne and was not too afraid (contrary to what is often written) that the enemies would take advantage of his absence and nominate a new khan.

The fall of Kyiv showed all interested parties the military weakness of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which occupied large territories that it was unable to defend.

The fall of Kyiv also showed that a new political force had emerged in Eastern Europe, the Crimean Khanate, capable of significantly influencing the course of military and political events in the region.

Ivan III liked to fight against Lithuania with the hands of the Crimean Tatars, and in the following years he constantly encouraged Mengli-Girey to attack the possessions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Ukraine.

For interstate relations, this was a significant tactical success for Moscow, which managed to burn its enemy with someone else’s hands. But strategically, the Crimean Khanate was a real Pandora’s box, and Moscow inadvertently opened it, showing the way north. However, this way could reach not only Kyiv but also Moscow, and in 1571 the grandson of Mengli-Girey burned the capital of the grandson of Ivan III, a temporary ally of the Crimea. And since then Moscow has been taking revenge on the Crimean Tatars wherever it can capture them, up to and including our time.

If the Kyiv event did not lead to direct territorial changes, it was mainly for the reason that the Tatars imagined how to plunder the "Tatar border" and did not imagine how to manage it. But all stateholders took note of the weakness, and in the coming years began to gnaw the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in favor of its neighbors – Moscow and Poland. If Moscow seized the territory of the Grand Duchy as a clear enemy, Poland seized the territory of the same Grand Duchy as a friend and ally.

But each state exists as long as it captures the territories of its neighbors faster than its neighbors manage to seize its territory. And it should be surprising not because the Grand Duchy of Lithuania disappeared from the political map in 1795, but rather because it existed for three centuries from 1482.