The article addresses the challenge of periodizing the Russian frontier in the North Caucasus by establishing chronological boundaries and characterizing the major stages of the region's frontier history evolution. The periodization of the Caucasus frontier is rooted in the unique dynamics and nuances of ethnocultural interactions between the North Caucasus and the Muscovite state/Russian Empire, as well as the transformation of different frontier elements. Although the periodization of the North Caucasian frontier introduced in this article is a novel contribution to academic literature, scholars have tackled the issue of periodizing the Russian frontier in the North Caucasus before. The author's conceptual framework identifies four distinct stages in the history of the Caucasus frontier, each with its specific label: the “Terek” phase (second half of the 16th century – 1721), the “Persian” phase (1722–1735), the “Kizlyar-Mozdok” phase (1735–1817), and the “Caucasian War” period (1817–1864). Throughout each stage, Russian boundaries advanced further into the region, and at times, Russia was compelled to cede territories it had recently annexed. Following the end of the Caucasian War, the North Caucasian frontier reached its terminus, leading to the region's integration into the political and legal framework of the Russian Empire. Assertions by some scholars that the North Caucasus remains an “eternal frontier” and that its frontier phase never truly concluded are at odds with historical facts. Over the past 150 years, there's no evidence pointing to the North Caucasus fulfilling the generally recognized criteria of a frontier zone.
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