Within these limits, European Russia represents one of the relatively best identified natural units: its morphological, climatic and anthropic characteristics clearly distinguish it from the rest of the old world, that is, from that complex of regions which, precisely in contrast with this extreme eastern sector, is united under the name of Western Europe. The contrast is essentially in this, that to the minute fractionation of this, there is a continental mass with very limited coastal development, to which is added a marked uniformity of characters over a large surface. Of the seas around its perimeter, the longest stretch belongs to the Arctic Ocean, in which only the westernmost segment (about 500 km; Murmanna coast) is accessible in every season; for the rest, these are coasts, more or less long blocked by winter ice, pertaining to completely closed basins (Caspian Sea), commanded by passages whose possession has never been in the hands of the Russians (Baltic, Black Sea) and in any case such that the The beach line does not penetrate anywhere deeply within land. By land, on the other hand, the transit towards the finitime regions is easy in every direction, even where (M. Urals) the terrestrial perimeter rises in some way above the usually low level, and even depressed (circumcaspian zone), of the continental trunk. Faced with the intensity and effectiveness of the influences coming from E. and S., lies the relative weakness or superficiality of those attributed to Western Europe, even if these can be considered decisive for what refers to the aspect exterior, and we would like to say to the mechanical content of modern civilization. The massive compactness of the territory corresponds to the extensive development of its natural regions, whose characters, moreover, pass with barely noticeable gradations in the finitime regions, revealing themselves to be identical or analogous for unparalleled more extensive spaces than in the domain of Western Europe..
On the whole, indeed, it can be said that the whole territory included within the limits mentioned above represents an area in its own right, to which the fact that it consists essentially of a plateau of low average elevation (only exceptionally higher than 300 m.), Flanked to the East. by a long mountainous line, and declining with a barely sensitive slope in the two directions of N. and S. (more gently towards the Glacial Sea); only poorly defined, if anything, on its western limit, where the flat area of central Europe continues it. Individuality, however, is not merely orographic, but also geological, and more especially tectonic. Bending zones occur only on the margins (Caucasus, Crimea, Urals, Donec plateau): in the rest there is a large sedimentation basin, resting on a crystalline base, which filled up in the pre-Catholic era, and only slightly disturbed by the movements that took place on its perimeter. In the north-west (from Finland to the western Dvina) prevailing lands of the earliest Paleozoic (Siluric, Devonico and Permic), soils of the Permic to the NE. (from Pečora to Ufa), of the Carboniferous in the center (upper Volga). Trias and Jura are also widely represented (from the Uvalli to the Ural river), but still more widespread, in S., the formations of the Paleogene (between middle Dnieper and lower Volga), and of the Neogene (northern margin of the Black Sea), which they are related to the marine transgressions to which the persistence of the two large bodies of water separated by the Caucasian block is due.
According to Timedictionary, the relative simplicity of the peneplant base on which they settled is matched by the substantially tabular arrangement of these sediments and their undisturbed conservation; on the consequences that the subaerial erosion had for the mass thus formed, the activity, on the whole more equalizing and leveling than destructive, exercised by the great Pleistocene glaciation, which extended to most of the region, prevailed. On the contrary, the appearance of the landscape is due to this activity, at least in its general lines, also because precisely with the more or less powerful and varied surface integument of transport soils (erratic blocks, moraines, clay, löss) they are in relationship and spontaneous vegetation, and crops, and forms of settlement.
The resulting morphological uniformity, however, must not be taken literally, even leaving aside the areas that must be kept distinct, due to their genesis and their history, from the plateau proper. The same path of the glacial and fluvioglacial currents was determined, or at least disturbed, by significant conditions that could certainly not be canceled. Alongside the incisions opened by the eaves that emanate it, and the emergencies drawn by the morainic arches, the plateau reveals a whole series of albeit weak folds, which bump its surface (Valdai anticline, Kasimov, M. Ergeni; a of these it apparently accompanies the middle course of the Volga), alternating with depressed areas that accentuate the orographic significance of those. Typically flat flaps occur only in proximity to the watersheds, where the slope and therefore the erosive force of the river currents are almost canceled out, or where these have been able to spread their floods more widely, or in correspondence to coastal platforms. The asymmetry of the valleys is frequent, where the right (western) bank sometimes overlooks the opposite bank with appicos of a hundred meters and more or descends to the river in terraces, as happens with streams that turn to the South.; even more frequent are the long carvings (ovragi) that the run-off waters open with tenacious regressive erosion in the bare plains of the southern steppes.