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Early "Proto-Cossack" groups are generally reported to have come into existence within the present-day Ukraine in the mid-13th century as the influence of Cumans grew weak though some have ascribed their origins to as early as the tenth century.

Some historians suggest that the Cossack people were of mixed ethnic origins, descending from Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Turks, Tatars, and others who settled or passed through the vast Steppe.

By 1918, Cossacks declared the complete independence of their nations and formed the independent states, the Ukrainian State, the Don Republic, and the Kuban People's Republic.

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The Zaporizhian Sich were a vassal people of Poland–Lithuania during feudal times.

Under increasing pressure from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the mid-17th century the Sich declared an independent Cossack Hetmanate, initiated by a rebellion under Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

They also served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders (as was the case in the Caucasus War).

During the Russian Civil War, Don and Kuban Cossacks were the first nations to declare open war against the Bolsheviks.

In the midst of the growing Moscow and Lithuanian powers, new political entities had appeared in the region such as Moldavia and the Crimean Khanate.

In 1261 some Slavic people living in the area between the Dniester and the Volga were mentioned in Ruthenian chronicles.With the victory of the Red Army, the Cossack lands were subjected to Decossackization and Holodomor.After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Cossacks made a systematic return to Russia. In Russia's 2010 Population Census, Cossacks have been recognized as an ethnicity.It is known that new settlers inherited a lifestyle that persisted there long before, such as those of the Turkic Cumans and the Circassian Kassaks.However, Slavic settlements in Southern Ukraine started to appear relatively early during the Cuman rule, with the earliest ones, like Oleshky, dating back to the 11th century.Hrushevsky states that Cossacks could have descended from the long forgotten Antes, or groups from the Berlad territory in present-day Romania, then a part of the Grand Duchy of Halych, Brodniki.

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