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There is plenty of recordings of the Mongol empire moving west, but is there any evidence of them expanding northeast towards the present-day petroplavlosk-kamchatsky area? Or were there factors that prevented them from expanding there?

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    I have no source on this, so this is a comment - but I would expect that Mongol armies would've trouble operating in mountains and dense forests of Northeast Asia. Even in XXI century it is very hard to just get to Magadan by land, let alone lead an army there. And it is (and was) sparsely-populated, so it would've little value in the eyes of would-be conquerors. – Danila Smirnov Dec 22 '17 at 5:08
  • Wikipedia states that they did not expand northeast up to Kamchatka. Do you have any reason to doubt this? It's generally hard to prove a negative. – congusbongus Dec 22 '17 at 5:18
  • @congusbongus Not really, though the fact that they expanded northward a bit and to the east made me wonder if there is any record of an expedition by a Mongol leader to conquer that area of Russia. – Qiangong2 Dec 22 '17 at 7:34
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    @DanilaSmirnov - To put it another way, why would they want to? There's no good pasture land for their horses, and no rich civilization there for them to loot. The city wasn't founded until the mid 18th Century, and the only reason it exists is because its a pretty good location for a naval base. The Mongols really weren't known for their navy (although in Japan they are very well-known for their navy sinking). – T.E.D. Dec 22 '17 at 14:20
  • By the way, the question can be too broad if you use present-day Petroplavlosk-Kamchatsky area to signify Northeast Asia. Why not use Kamchatka? – J Asia Jan 6 '18 at 20:18
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On the first question, ...is there any evidence of them expanding northeast towards the present-day petroplavlosk-kamchatsky area?, no -- I don't believe there is any evidence of Mongol empire stretching to Kamchatka.

As a steppe society, I believe the Kamchatka Peninsula is way out of Mongol Empire's range of operation. But let's not leave it at that but expand on the point because they have tried (and failed miserably) to invade Java and Japan.

Nevertheless, let's keep in mind, in history: lack of evidence is not evidence of absence ...

As for the second question, ... were there factors that prevented them from expanding there?, I believe the following factors might be good reasons why they did not make it that far:

  • Geography
  • Ainu-Mongol wars
  • Mongol navy

Geography

Geographically, the Russian Far East of Sakhalin, the Kurile islands, and the Kamchatka peninsula are very different from Inner Asia. Specifically, the high seismic activity and volcanism would be very uncomfortable for the Yuan dyansty. In addition, the coastal meadow-forests and monsoon season of this region would make it highly unsuitable for Mongol warfare.

Ainu-Mongol wars

Starting in 1264, Kublai did attack the Ainu in Sakhalin (not Kurile islands) but it was not sweepingly successful because it went on intermittently for nearly half a century before the Ainu finally submitted in 1308 (to Temür Khan, Kublai's grandson). Looking at the map below, if Kubilai failed dominate the Ainu in Sakhalin, they would not be leap-frogging them to Kamchatka.

Mongol Navy

Last year, I had an answer on the Mongol Navy, mainly to show how bad they were at naval warfare -- and if you couple this with the actual distance the Yuan navy had to travel (if they chose the sea route, Sea of Okhotsk), it would be highly unlikely that Kubilai or Temur would want to risk additional resources after the failed naval invasions of Japan (1274 & 1281).

Sea of Okhotsk

Logistically, it should be obvious that the coastal land route would also be prohibitively expensive and long (in terms of manpower, resources and time).

Finally, although there isn't much written on the Ainu-Mongol wars, there is some info here and this book: The Peoples of Northeast Asia through Time (Brill, 2015), Chapter 2 on the Ainu people.

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For Mongols to reach Kamchatka would have required either a much more difficult sea voyage than those they attempted in the Sea of Japan, or else crossing the territory of the Yakuts or the Evens. Mongols never conquered either of those groups, but interacted with and influenced both.

Why wouldn't Mongols have wanted to expand in that direction? A faraway, sparsely populated subarctic region with difficult terrain was just not that attractive.

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