"the wide-spreading steppes"
The Russian Steppe
Creative Commons AttributionThe Russian Steppe - Credit: Victoria Vasilieva

 The word 'steppe' refers to the wide areas of grassland in southern Russia and northern Central Asia. The so-called Great Steppe stretches across southern Russia and its neighbours from Hungary to China. The image of the sparsely-populated, enormously expansive steppes is a central part of the idea of Russia; the first Russian people, the Scythians, came from this area.