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Cossack communities had developed along the latter two rivers well before the arrival of the Don Cossacks.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tsarist regime used Cossacks extensively to perform police service.

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

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.