The timing of the Russian conquest of the non-Russian territories in relation to the development of a national consciousness among the indigenous groups is critical. To comprehend the interactions between the titular nations and the minority Russians, one must first understand the history of relations between Russians and non-Russians as each side perceives it. Some interactions between Russians and the indigenous groups involved coercion. This chapter traces the development of titular-Russian relationships as perceived both by members of titular nations and by Russians. Russia's expansion through conquest of contiguous non-Russian lands and peoples—and the establishment of colonial relations between the Russian core and the non-Russian periphery—was an imperial project that occupied the last 350 years of the Empire's existence. The Russian Empire was divided into a core of the fifty European guberniyas, including Russia west of the Urals and north of the Caucasus as well as the Baltics, Lithuania and Belorussia, Ukraine and Bessarabia.