What was so little about “Little Russia”?
Before the 1917 revolutions, “Russian” applied indiscriminately to Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. They were defined respectively as Velikorosy, Malorosy and Belorusy (Great, Little and White Russians). The Soviet regime did away with this but retained and enhanced the traditional notion of “brotherly” relations, with Russians playing the elder brother role. However, in 2021, Vladimir Putin wrote a now famous article on the “shared history” of Russia and Ukraine. In it, he seemingly revived this pre-revolutionary thinking.