But, as yet, there was no unitary state, only a mass of Slav tribes roving within ill-defined bounds. Those in the South paid tribute to the Khozars, a race of Turkish origin, but unlike the barbarous Asiatic hordes who had preceded them and were to follow on their trail. The Khozars very soon abandoned nomadic habits, whereas the last invaders, the
[paragraph continues] Mongols, during their sway of two hundred years never attained to this much of civilization, nor ever took to building cities.
In the VIII century under the influence of Jewish and Arabic immigrants the dynasty of the Kagans, (the despots of the Khozars) became converts to Judaism. The Khozar capital, called Itil, was on the lower Volga, and grew into commercial importance.
This subjection of the Slavs to the Khozars was not altogether disadvantageous; the road was open far exchange between the Caspian and the Black Sea, the Dněpr and the Volkhov with the Volga.
This transitory Empire of the Khozars enabled cities to spring up in Slav Russia; such as Kíev, Černígov, Smolénsk, Lyúbeč and Nóvgorod. The principal and all-important commercial highway was from Lake Ilmen, the Dněpr, the tributaries of which linked up this Eastern Empire with the waters of the Dněstr and the Vistula. This waterway from the Dnĕpr to the Black Sea is what the old Russian Chronicles call the "road from the Varangians to the Greeks."
However, towards the beginning of the ninth century this empire was decaying, and the Vikings of Scandinavia were making their appearance. A new epoch begins, and Russia, under Northern pressure, is to emerge as a nation.