At the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, an advertisement by the British Ministry of Defense asked readers: "Isn't it better to have our frontier on the Elbe than on Brighton beach?" In sixteenth-century Muscovy there were no readers to ask a similar question, but the answer was obvious all the same. It was incumbent upon the rising Orthodox Muscovite state to expand its frontier in the east, where neighboring lands populated by the non-Christian peoples could be easily vanquished, and to secure its frontier in the south in order to prevent devastating nomadic raids.
This essay addresses an unusual knot of the Russian historiography: was Russia a colonial empire and if so, why did he authorities consistently refuse to identify the empire as such? I am providing some answers by examining the Russian empire in a broad comparative perspective of both European and Asian empires. In the end, the goal of this essay is to re-open a discussion on the nature of the Russian empire.
Historical, socio-cultural, and political studies stretching from Eastern Europe to East Asia with the emphasis on cross-cultural encounter, empires and colonialism, gender and nationalities issues, various forms of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions from the Middle Ages to the end of the Soviet Union.
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