Ukraine maps chart Crimea's troubled past
- 13 March 2014
- From the section Europe
If Crimea were to join Russia after the planned referendum on 16 March, it would be the latest of many changes to the map of Ukraine during the country's troubled past.
Passions are being fired by history, as the old maps in the British Library's collection reveal.
Crimea, a small peninsula in the Black Sea, below Russia and Ukraine, is now the focus and flashpoint of the crisis, threatening to loosen ties with Kiev or even return to Russian rule.
In the 18th Century, it was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, ruled by the Khan of the Crimean Tatars.
That lasted until Russia's Catherine the Great (seen below) took it from the Tatars, annexed it and made it part of the Russian Empire.
And there it stayed, part of Russia, right up until 1954 when the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, on a whim, gifted it to Ukraine.
That didn't matter when this was all Soviet territory.
But in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed. And overnight, Russia and Ukraine became separate countries with Crimea still in Ukraine.
As for the main part of Ukraine, it's always been pulled two ways. Western Ukraine has always been tied to Europe, for good reason.
Take Lviv - as it is now called - in the far west.
On the map above, it is shown in the centre as the orange area, and labelled in the Ukrainian Cyrillic text. It remained part of Soviet Ukraine, known as Lvov - a Russified version of its name - until the USSR collapsed in 1991, when it reverted to the name of Lviv.
On this map of 1775, where it is labelled as Leopol, it had become part of the Austrian empire, where it was also known as Lemberg.
And in 1939, by now part of Poland, it came under Soviet rule, part of a carve-up - a secret deal - between Hitler and Stalin.
Many Crimean Tatars were deported by Stalin in 1944 at the end of World War Two, accused of collaborating with Nazi Germany. They were later allowed to return home, but remain wary of coming under Moscow's rule again.
Some Ukrainian nationalists even saw Stalin as a bigger enemy than Hitler. That's why there's still so much suspicion of Moscow, the old occupying power.
And that's why we keep hearing President Putin warning of the threat from right-wing extremists in Western Ukraine.
Old fears and mistrust - still shaping attitudes today.
Yet the further east you go in Ukraine, the more people see Russia not as enemy, but part of the family.
In this 18th Century map, Russia's lands go right up to Kiev.
And Kiev is where Russia started a thousand years ago, the birthplace of the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church.
It's almost sacred. That's why President Putin doesn't want to let it go.
And those deep seated emotions are what make this crisis so dangerous.
The worry is that if Ukraine's maps do need to be redrawn again, it may only provoke new violence.
Maps courtesy of the British Library in London, which has one of the world's greatest collections of maps and cartographic materials.
Photos by Emma Lynch