>>43461 Russians were the only ethnic group who got to benefit from the the scientific and philosophical revolutions of Europe while being independent. The other Slavs were already taken over, and the Tartary of Siberia had no access. Before Russian Expansionism, there were plenty of Khanates, but they all fell apart.
Russian imperialism in central asia and siberia was remarkably successful in acquiring territory - but so was british imperialism in India, or french in Africa. Russia also had a land border and settlers for the east and held onto its empire longer.
>I only say this because it seems there isn't a clear and distinct homogenus Russian ethnicity. What? From Smolensk to Vladivostok, it's all same Russians. Of course they have a lot of minorities, but in most of their territory ethnic Russians are majority. As to why it ended up so huge, well it was mostly underpopulated land, and it was colonized over few centuries.
Russia would ally with the steppe tribes, when the tribes started to get worried about the bigger steppe tribes russia would offer to build forts to protect against the bigger tribes, then settle the land with russians, germans and the nomads who now had their grazing territory cut due to the forts. Rinse and repeat with some conquering of the siberian tribes (and giving them tax benefit if they converted to orthodox and became settled).
Ming was more worried about the Qing and the Qing was more worried about the dzungars who posed a serious threat and consolating their control over china proper.
Russia had some minor skirmishes (which they lost) with the chinese.
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