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The history of Russia in the 20th Century was marked by several identity crises, by warfare both foreign and domestic, ‘hot’ and ‘cold’.

During the 18th and 19th Centuries Russia had advanced her dominion east and south to include areas that were neither Slavic nor Orthodox. In the 20th Century many of those ethnic groups developed a national identity and since 1991 are no longer a part of Russia. In the west there were significant early gains followed by losses in the 20th century in the northwest. All of these changes have been mapped in this module.

Historians today remain much influenced by the events of the Cold War. Many believe that Russian expansion is consistent with, indeed no different from, other varieties of European imperialism; others believe however that Russia posed and/or poses a peculiar threat to her neighbors, and especially to the interests of the West.