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Cossack communities had developed along the latter two rivers well before the arrival of the Don Cossacks.
By the 18th century Cossack hosts in the Russian Empire occupied effective buffer zones on its borders.
Sometime in the 16th century there appeared the old Ukrainian Ballad of Cossack Holota about a Cossack near Kiliya.
These ventures went on short-term expeditions to acquire the region's natural wealth and this mode of existing—farming, hunting, then returning home in the winter or perhaps remaining permanently—came to be known as the Cossack way of life.
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.
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.
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 not clear when new Slavic people apart from Brodnici and Berladniki started settling in the lower reaches of major rivers such as the Don and the Dnieper after the demise of the Khazar state.