The (Mid-) Late Devonian to Early Carboniferous was a time of widespread rifting on the East European Craton (EEC) and its margins. The most prominent basin among these and, accordingly, the best documented is the Dniepr-Donets Basin (DDB) in Ukraine and southern Russia. The DDB is associated with voluminous rift-related magmatism and broad basement uplift. Two other large, extensional, basin systems developed along the margins of the EEC at the same time: the East Barents Basin (EEB) and its onshore prolongation the Timan-Pechora Basin (TPB), and the Peri-Caspian Basin (PCB). Rifting, associated magmatism, and possible domal basement uplift are also reported elsewhere within the EEC, suggesting a common, 'active', rifting process, involving a cluster of thermal instabilities (or generalized thermal instability) at the base of the lithosphere beneath widely separated parts of the EEC by Mid-Late Devonian times. The DDB is an intracratonic rift basin, cutting across the Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic structural grain of its basement and, as such, differs from the EBB-TPB and PCB, which are pericratonic rift basins developed on reworked and juvenile crystalline basement accreted to the EEC during the Neoproterozoic. The DDB opened into a deep basin, possibly having oceanic lithospheric affinity, to the SE, in the area where it adjoins the southern PCB, suggesting the possibility that rifting led to (limited?) continental break-up in this area at this time. Post-rift compressional tectonic reactivations and basin inversion in the DDB, leading to the formation of its prominent Donbas Foldbelt segment, are related to Tethyan events (Cimmerian and Alpine orogenies) occurring on the nearby southern margin of the EEC. Post-rift compressional inversions in the PCB and TPB, which lie closer to the Urals margin of the EEC, are related to Uralian tectonics. © The Geological Society of London 2006.