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Who are the Cossacks?

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  15:19:40  5 January 2021
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On forum: 01/05/2021
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Who are the Cossacks?

Recently I've been delving into Russian history and I keep coming into contact with the idea of the Cossacks. What confuses me, however, is how different sources make them seem like completely different things. Are they to be treated as Russians, or as something separate? Are they their own independent nation, or a series of tribes subservient to Russia proper? Are they an ethnic group? A social class? An occupation? A military group? Or are they some combination of all of these? In some places they are an oppressed minority, while in other places they are the oppressors of minority groups. Do Cossacks still exist today? Are there/were there multiple types of Cossacks?

An information would be greatly appreciated, as they are a group I just can't wrap my head around. Thanks in advance!
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