The Kalmyks have a remarkable military history, which is bound inseparably with that of Russia. The movement of Oirat tribes, the ancestors of the Kalmyks, from Dzungaria to what is today Kalmykia was gradual, stretching out over half a century and involving military confrontations with various tribes on their way. In the first half of the 17th century by their first treaties with the Muscovites, the Kalmyk lords obliged to participate in Russia’s military campaigns and defend its territory. Following the integration of the Kalmyk territory with Russia and the subsequent abolishment of the Kalmyk Khanate (1630-1771), their military tradition was carried on by newly formed Kalmyk Cossack regiments, which were part of wider Cossack military communities of the Don, Ural, Astrakhan, Stavropol, Orenburg and others. The Kalmyk Cossacks lived separately from the rest of the Kalmyks until the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Having a hereditary right to serve in the Cossack regiments, Kalmyk Cossacks and their families had become not only sedentarised and bilingual but also developed their unique cultural practices and beliefs. Following the Bolshevik Revolution the Cossack regiments were disbanded across Russia only to be reinstated in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today in Kalmykia there are around 30,000 registered Kalmyk Cossacks attached to 5 Cossack okrugs (districts).

Here you can watch videos, read essays and listen to stories about Kalmyk military history, military heroes, beliefs, rituals and many others.

Anatoliy Safinov, Gakhaev and Amursanan

Anatoliy says that he heard from others that Gakhaev was from Iki Derbet ulus originally. When he was young he was sent to study in Stavropol’. In the past, gifted boys were sent there for education. Gakhaev had a house in St Petersburg, which is now a theatre. As for Amursanan, he gathered Kalmyks from Kumsky and Tersky regions who had lost their land to Russians and resettled them in the territory of Derbet.


Arltan Baskhaev, A Brief Military History of the Kalmyk


Arltan Baskhaev, Military Legends


Keemia Orlova, About Old Books and Texts in Kalmykia and Western Mongolia


Konstantin Naktanov, The History of Kalmyks


Nikolai Oshaev, Mazan Baatr