The Russian principalities were devastated by a massive orc invasion. The city of Kiev was completely destroyed and all the principalities were incorporated into the orc empire, as tribute-paying vassals. Only the Republic of Novgorod was able to resist. Novgorod, with its huge hinterland, has continued to flourish by developing strong trading ties with western Europe.
Two centuries ago the orc empire divided into several branches, with the orcs of the western steppes becoming known as the Great Horde. The khan of the Great Horde continues as overlord of the Russian princes. For the last hundred years the princes of Muscovy have acted as intermediaries between the khan and the other princes, they have now established themselves as the effective leaders of Russia.
The Russians’ western neighbour, Poland-Lithuania, has been able to take advantage of the Russian princes’ subordination to the orc Horde by expanding far into their territory. However the Golden Horde is in decline, with independent khanates being established in the Crimea and Kazan.