For more than 200 years, Russia and the United States have shared a multi-faceted diplomatic relationship, at one point even sharing a land border when Russia had a settlement at Fort Ross, California. Over this period, the two countries have competed for political and economic influence, and cooperated to meet mutual global challenges. In 2007, private and government organizations in the United States and Russia mark the bicentennial of diplomatic relations with events that illustrate the depth and history of the relationship.
Brief Historical Overview
Russia's sale of Alaska to the U.S. Government in the mid-19th century marked an active period that included commercial joint ventures and Russian support for the United States during the American Civil War. The early 20th century saw sometimes tense relations, but our countries continued to talk and, at times, cooperate. Although the United States did not recognize the Soviet Union until 1933, we provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 1921-1923 famine. Despite our differences, the Soviets and the Americans united against a common enemy during World War II, and the Soviet Union participated in the Lend-Lease program under which the United States provided the Allies with supplies. That period ended with the onset of the Cold War, as our military alliances opposed each other in Europe and across the globe. Nevertheless, cultural, sports, scientific, and educational exchanges, and summits that led to important arms control treaties, kept the lines of communication open. U.S. and Soviet astronauts even ventured into space together in the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.
After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, the U.S.-Russian relationship took on a new dimension, and contacts between our citizens expanded rapidly in number and diversity. Russians and Americans work together on a daily basis, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in a wide range of areas, including combating the threats of terrorism, nuclear arms proliferation, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and other global challenges. Not surprisingly, there remain issues on which our two governments do not agree. Even after 200 years, our relations continue to evolve in both expected and unexpected ways.