From at least the seventh century B.C. to the second, southern Russia was dominated by the Scythians, nomadic mounted herdsmen. Next came the Sarmatians, who ruled until the Goths, a Germanic tribe, arrived in the second century A.D. The Goths ruled until driven out by the Huns about 370. The Scythians, Sarmatians, and Goths were masters of various subject peoples, including Slavs. The dominions they established were primarily for purposes of trade, for the main trading routes that extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea passed through their lands. When the Huns came, this trade was interrupted.

From the second century to about the sixth century, many Slavs migrated from the southern Russian lands to the northeast and northwest. Slav settlements to the east soon reached as far as the Don River. The Khazars, from the Caucasus, moved north in the 600's and gained mastery over the Slavs in the southern Russian steppes, winning control of the trade routes to the Black Sea. In the forest region north of the Khazar lands many Slav trading centers or towns developed along these trading routes. One of the principal towns was Kiev, with a population of Slavs controlled by Khazars.

Important dates in Russia
A.D. 800's East Slavs established the state of Kievan Rus.
1237-1240 The Mongols conquered Russia.
c. 1318 The Mongols appointed Prince Yuri of Moscow as the Russian grand prince.
1480 Ivan III broke Mongol control over Russia.
1547 Ivan IV became the first Russian ruler to be crowned czar.
1604-1613 Russia was torn by civil war, invasion, and political confusion during the Time of Troubles.
1613 Michael Romanov became czar. He started the Romanov line of czars, which ruled until 1917.
1703 Peter I founded St. Petersburg and began building his capital there.
1812 Napoleon invaded Russia but was forced to retreat.
1861 Alexander II freed the serfs.
1905 Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. A revolution forced Czar Nicholas II to establish a parliament.
1914-1917 Russia fought Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I.
1917 The February Revolution overthrew Czar Nicholas II. The Bolsheviks (who were later called Communists) seized power in the October Revolution. V. I. Lenin became head of the government. Russia withdrew from World War I.
1918-1920 The Communists defeated their anti-Communist opponents in a civil war.
1922 The U.S.S.R. was established.
1941–1945 The U.S.S.R. fought Germany in World War II.
1957 The U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite.
1961 Yuri A. Gagarin became the first person in space.
1991 Communist rule ended, and the Soviet Union was dissolved. Russia and the other Soviet republics became independent nations.