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Some historians suggest that the Cossack people were of mixed ethnic origins, descending from Russians, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Poles, 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.
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.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Cossacks made a systematic return to Russia.
Many took an active part in Post-Soviet conflicts and Yugoslav Wars.
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.
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.In the 15th century, the Cossack society was described as a loose federation of independent communities, often forming local armies, entirely independent from the neighbouring states (of, e.g., Poland, the Grand Duchy of Moscow or the Khanate of Crimea).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.In 1261 some Slavic people living in the area between the Dniester and the Volga were mentioned in Ruthenian chronicles.Historical records of the Cossacks before the 16th century are scant as the history of the Ukrainian lands in that period for various reasons.