Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654

Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 ( Pereiaslavska uhoda). A fateful alliance the Hetman state under Bohdan Khmelnytsky concluded with Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich during the Cossack-Polish War. After the Crimean Tatar army (see Islam-Girei III) betrayed the Cossacks for the third time during the siege of Zhvanets in 1653, and Khmelnytsky realized he could no longer rely on Ottoman support against Poland, the hetman was forced to turn to Muscovy for help. Moscow responded favorably to an alliance with Ukraine because it would prevent closer Ukrainian-Turkish ties. Negotiations began in January 1654 in Pereiaslav between Khmelnytsky and his General Military Council on one side and Muscovite envoys led by Vasilii Buturlin on the other. They were concluded in April in Moscow by the Ukrainians Samiilo Bohdanovych-Zarudny (general judge of the Hetman state) and Pavlo Teteria (then colonel of Pereiaslav regiment) and by A. Trubetskoi, V. Buturlin, and other Muscovite boyars.

The treaty consisted of two main documents modeled on the 1649 Treaty of Zboriv: the tsar's patent to the Zaporozhian Host of 6 April (patents were also granted to other Ukrainian estates), and 11 articles concerning military, political, and technical details. The original documents have not been preserved, but translations and drafts of the tsar's patents have survived. The treaty's form and character were imperfect; some articles were not formulated systematically, and their content was rather vague. (English translations of the treaty appear in Oleksander Ohloblyn's and J. Basarab's books [see bibliography].)

As a result of the treaty Ukraine became a protectorate of the Muscovite tsar, thenceforth also the ‘tsar of Little Russia,’ who in turn recognized the hetman and the Zaporozhian Host as the only representatives of the Hetman state and its government. Ukraine, headed by a freely elected hetman, retained its independence and autonomy in both foreign and internal policy. The rights and freedoms of the Cossacks, nobility, burghers, and clergy were guaranteed. Muscovy was obligated to defend Ukraine militarily, to launch immediately an offensive against Poland, and to send troops and a military governor to defend Kyiv. The registered Cossacks of Bohdan Khmelnytsky's army were to be paid by the tsar from taxes gathered by local governments in Ukraine, and their number was fixed at 60,000. In view of the state of war the Ukrainian government agreed not to conduct negotiations with either Poland or Turkey without the tsar's permission. (That last provision and the one about collecting taxes in Ukraine for the tsar's treasury were never enforced.)

The treaty's limitations and formal character led to differing interpretations of it on both sides. The Ukrainian government, particularly under Bohdan Khmelnytsky, considered it to be a temporary political and military alliance. Muscovy, however, particularly after Khmelnytsky's death, used it to justify its increasing interference in Ukraine's internal affairs, whereby it limited Ukraine's sovereignty and eventually nullified the treaty's provisions. Soon after the treaty was concluded, Muscovite officials visited 117 Ukrainian towns, and over 127,300 Ukrainian men swore an oath of loyalty to the tsar.

Historians and legal specialists have not been unanimous in their evaluation of the treaty, particularly its legal aspects and the relations it established between Ukraine and Russia. Some (mostly Russian) scholars believe that it formalized the voluntary incorporation of Ukraine into Russia, either in full or in part (D. Odinets, I. Rozenfeld, Venedikt Miakotin) or Ukraine's autonomy within the Muscovite tsardom and later the Russian Empire (B. Nolde and others). Other historians, both Russian and Ukrainian, considered it to be an act of real union of the two states (N. Diakonov, A. Filippov, A. Popov); or a personal union with the tsar as sovereign of both countries (Rostyslav Lashchenko, Vasilii Sergeevich); or the formalization of Ukraine's vassalage (Mykhailo Hrushevsky, N. Korkunov, Ivan Krypiakevych, Miakotin, Lev Okinshevych, Mikhail Pokrovsky, Mykhailo Slabchenko, Andrii Yakovliv in his early works) or its status as a protectorate (Hrushevsky, Dmytro Doroshenko, Borys Krupnytsky, Krypiakevych, Yakovliv in his later works) or pseudo- or quasi-protectorate (Bohdan Halaichuk); or a temporary military alliance, solidified by the tsar's protection (Viacheslav Lypynsky, Elie Borschak, Yakovliv in his later works, S. Ivanytsky). Modern Ukrainian historians have been divided: a minority have interpreted the treaty as the formalization of Ukraine's status as a vassal state or protectorate (Okinshevych, Yakovliv), whereas others have viewed it as a military and political alliance (Lypynsky, Oleksander Ohloblyn). Soviet historians generally disputed that it was a treaty at all, and described it as the culmination of the desire of two ‘fraternal peoples’ to unite in a unitary Russian state.

(See also Pereiaslav Articles of 1659.)

Hrushevs’kyi, M. Istoriia Ukraïny-Rusy, vol 9, bk 1 (Kyiv 1928; New York 1957)
Iakovliv, A. Ukraïns’ko-moskovs’ki dohovory v XVII–XVIII vikakh (Warsaw 1934)
Dohovir het’mana Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho z moskovs’kym tsarem Oleksiiem Mykhailovychem (New York 1954)
Ohloblyn, A. Treaty of Pereyaslav 1654 (Toronto and New York 1954)
Prokopovych, V. ‘The Problem of the Juridical Nature of the Ukraine's Union with Muscovy,’ AUA, 4 (Winter–Spring 1955)
O'Brien, C.B. Muscovy and the Ukraine: From the Pereiaslavl Agreement to the Truce of Andrusovo, 1654–1667 (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1963)
Braichevsky, M. Annexation or Unification?: Critical Notes on One Conception, ed and trans G. Kulchycky (Munich 1974)
Basarab, J. Pereiaslav 1654: A Historiographical Study (Edmonton 1982)
Pereiaslavs'ka rada 1654 roku. Istoriohrafiia ta doslidzhennia (Kyiv 2003)

Oleksander Ohloblyn

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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