More Russian speakers appeared in northern, central and eastern Ukrainian territories during the late 17th century, following the Cossack Rebellion led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky.The Uprising led to a massive movement of Ukrainian settlers to the Sloboda Ukraine region, which converted it from a sparsely inhabited frontier area to one of the major populated regions of the Tsardom of Russia.
, Russkiye na Ukrainye) — the largest ethnic minority in the country, which community forms the largest single Russian diaspora in the world.
In the 2001 Ukrainian census, 8,334,100 identified as ethnic Russians (17.3% of the population of Ukraine), this is the combined figure for persons originating from outside of Ukraine and the native population declaring Russian ethnicity.
Due to the concentration of the Russians in the cities, as well as for historic reasons, most of the largest cities in the center and the south-east of the country (including Kiev where Russians amount to 13.1% of the population) Traditionally mixed Russo-Ukrainian populated territories are mainly historic Novorossiya (New Russia) and Sloboda Ukraine - now both split between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Russians constitute the majority in the Crimea (71.7% in Sevastopol and 58,5% in the Autonomous republic of Crimea), the southern peninsula which the Soviet government transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954.
However outside the Crimea, Russians are the largest ethnic group in only a tiny handful of units: Donetsk (48.2%) and Makiyivka (50.8%) in Donetsk Oblast, Ternivka (52.9%) in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Krasnodon (63.3%) and Sverdlovsk (58.7%) and Krasnodonskyi raion (51.7%) and Stanychno-Luhanskyi (61.1%) raion in Luhansk Oblast, Reni (70,54%) and Izmail (43.7%) in Odessa oblast, Putyvl Raion (51.6%) in Sumy Oblast.
One of the most prominent Russians in the Medieval Ukraine (at that time Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) was Ivan Fyodorov who published the Ostrog Bible and called himself a Muscovite.In 1599 Tsar Boris Godunov ordered the construction of Tsareborisov on the banks of Oskol River, the first city and the first fortress in Eastern Ukraine.To defend the territory from Tatar raids the Russians built the Belgorod defensive line (1635–1658), and Ukrainians started fleeing to be under its defense.The systematic colonization of lands in what became known as Novorossiya (mainly Crimea, Taurida and around Odessa) began.Migrants from many ethnic groups (predominantly Ukrainians and Russians from Russia proper) came to this area.At the same time the discovery of coal in the Donets Basin also marked the commencement of a large-scale industrialization and an influx of workers from other parts of the Russian Empire.