Exotic people and landscapes
As the 16th century drew to a close, Russia began looking towards eastern expansion, beyond the Urals, to Siberia and later in the 19th century, to Caucasia and Central Asia. Territorially, Russia became a European-Asian power.
The exotic non-Christian tribes commanded by Russian domination aroused the ethnographic interest of scholars and travelers. Russia itself was becoming a "bringer of culture" to the "uncivilized people" of Asia. This reinforced Russia's self-image as a European country.