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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, for example, Poland, the Grand Duchy of Moscow or the Khanate of Crimea).
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.
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.
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.