More information about Russia is available on the Russia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States seeks a relationship with Russia based on cooperation in the pursuit of mutual interests and a frank and open discussion of disagreements based on mutual respect as the two countries seek to address the shared challenges of the 21st century.
Russia matters for the defense and promotion of U.S. national interests in a way matched by few other countries in the world. Russia is the world’s largest country by landmass and is a key geopolitical player in the East Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Europe. Russia and the U.S. collectively control over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and Russia is the world’s largest producer of hydrocarbons. It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a member of the G8 and G20, and a key player in the Quartet on Middle East peace, the P5+1 talks on Iran, and the Six-Party talks on North Korea.
On such critical issues as preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating terrorism, countering narcotics, addressing the effects of climate change, increasing trade and investment to enhance economic prosperity, and managing global financial markets, the United States is better positioned to advance our national interests if we can work with Russia in the spirit of cooperation. Russia’s long-term prosperity, modernity, integration into the global economy, and political liberalization are all in the interest of the United States.
The New START Treaty was signed on April 8, 2010, and entered into force on February 5, 2011, and demonstrates U.S. and Russian leadership in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world. New START reduces the limits on the number of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arms by a third and restores important verification and inspection measures. On April 13, 2010, the two countries also signed a Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which will enable the disposal of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium on each side, or enough for about 17,000 nuclear weapons. On January 11, 2011, the U.S. and Russia concluded an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, establishing a legal basis for cooperation and expanding opportunities for U.S. companies in Russia.
In terms of stabilizing Afghanistan, Russia has been a critical partner. Thanks to Russia’s agreement to allow the transit of U.S. personnel and equipment across Russian territory in support of the ISAF mission, as of June 2012, more than 2,374 flights and over 404,000 military personnel have transited this corridor, while Russia’s ground transit arrangement with NATO has resulted in the shipment of over 50,000 containers of supplies to Afghanistan.
We are working together to prevent Iran and North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons programs. Together with Russia, we crafted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which introduced the most comprehensive set of multilateral sanctions to date on Iran. In 2010 Russia canceled the planned sale of an advanced air-defense system (the S-300) to Iran, further advancing our non-proliferation aims. The U.S. also worked closely with Russia to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, which strengthens financial and arms embargoes on North Korea.
The United States and Russia are increasing people-to-people connections through education, culture, sports, media, and other professional interactions. The objective of these efforts is to promote the mutual understanding required to build lasting ties between our two peoples. In the field of cultural and public diplomacy, the “American Seasons” program in Russia has brought a wide spectrum of cultural offerings to the Russian public. In 2012, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra completed its first tour to Russia in more than two decades. Also in 2012, U.S. audiences applauded the return of the Bolshoi Ballet to the Kennedy Center and enjoyed the Mariinsky Ballet’s performances of “Cinderella”. The “Russian Seasons” cultural program in America included the bicentennial celebration of the founding of the Russian settlement at Fort Ross, California. Bilateral agreements have also been concluded on cooperation in intercountry adoptions as well as liberalization of practices governing entry visas. The bilateral Agreement Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children which was signed in 2011 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov provides better safeguards for adoptive children taking into account the interests and obligations of the adoptive parents. In September 2012, a historic U.S.-Russia visa agreement entered into effect, making Russian and American travelers for business or tourism eligible to receive visas valid for multiple entries during a period of 36 months.
The United States and Russia do not see eye to eye on all issues, but our relationship accommodates frank discussion of disagreements in a spirit of mutual respect with the aim of managing our differences. Where we have differences – on Georgia, Syria, human rights, etc., – we will address them openly and honestly, and will stand by our principles. Pursuing cooperation where it is in our mutual interest enables a more substantial, less polemical dialogue on the hard issues. Our full bilateral agenda for 2013 features deepening economic ties with Russia, the newest member of the WTO; making progress where we can on missile defense; and expanding the work of the Bilateral Presidential Commission.
Bilateral Presidential Commission
In April 2009, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed to the formation of the Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC). The Bilateral Presidential Commission is the premier forum for cooperation between the United States and Russia, and provides a framework for dialogue and the identification of new opportunities based on our shared interests.
The Bilateral Presidential Commission’s 21 working groups continue to produce concrete, substantive results that impact not only our governments but also regular people living in both our countries. Its ongoing expansion – including recently-added working groups on innovation, rule of law and military technical cooperation – and new initiatives demonstrate that our vast bureaucracies are learning the habits and recognizing the benefits of continuing cooperation in between presidential and other high-level meetings.
The BPC continues to function as the vehicle that provides regular attention to our biggest mutual policy objectives via a transparent and structured mechanism. It brings together over 40 U.S. and Russian agencies, as well as numerous NGOs and businesses.
The BPC’s principal objectives include the strengthening of strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and the development of ties between Russians and Americans. Its core principles include a focus on common interests, a two-way partnership and exchange, a frank dialogue respectful of differences, and the completion of tangible results.
The BPC aims to institutionalize the government-to-government and people-to-people aspects of the bilateral relationship. Increased participation by the non-government sphere – involving private enterprise, NGOs, and other elements of civil society in both countries – is and will remain an important goal of the Commission.
More information can be found at: http://www.state.gov/p/eur/ci/rs/usrussiabilat/index.htm.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is working vigorously to expand bilateral trade and investment cooperation to benefit both Russia and the United States. Over the past three years, the positive atmosphere resulting from the “reset” of bilateral relations has led to an unprecedented advance in economic cooperation between our countries. From 2009 to 2011, U.S. exports to Russia rose 57 percent and total U.S.-Russia trade increased over 80 percent. U.S. companies reported numerous major business deals in Russia in 2012, including the ExxonMobil-Rosneft deal in May for exploration in the Arctic shelf, Boeing’s $15 billion in aircraft sales in Russia over the past five years, and Ex-Im Bank’s June MOU signing with Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, to support up to $1 billion in exports to Russia.
In December 2011, culminating 18 years of hard work and dedication, Russia was invited to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), a major accomplishment that will bring the world’s largest economy outside the WTO into the organization and bind it to a set of rules governing trade, as well as a dispute-resolution mechanism to enforce those rules. To ensure that U.S. companies and workers can take full advantage of Russia’s WTO membership, Congress enacted legislation to extend permanent normal trade relations to Russia.
Our governments are also engaged in a wide range of joint efforts under the Bilateral Presidential Commission in the areas of trade, investment, multilateral economic cooperation, commercial engagement, and innovation that will benefit the people of both countries
Russian Membership in International Organizations
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia took steps to become a full partner in the world's principal political groupings. In December 1991, Russia assumed the permanent UN Security Council seat formerly held by the Soviet Union. Over the years, Russia has increased its international profile and played a growing role in regional issues. Russia and the United States both belong to a number of other international organizations and groupings, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Middle East Quartet, P5+1 on Iran, Six-Party Talks on North Korea, G-8, and G-20.
In 1994 Russia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace initiative. In 1997 the NATO-Russia Founding Act established formal relations between the NATO and Russia, and in 2002 the NATO-Russia Council was created.
The Russian Federation maintains an embassy at 2650 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-5700) and a consular section at 2641 Tunlaw Road, Washington, DC (tel. 202-939-8907/8913/8918). Russian consulates also are located in Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
More information about Russia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Russia Page
Department of State Key Officers List
Department of State Country Specific Information
CIA World Factbook Russia Page
U.S. Embassy: Russia
History of U.S. Relations With Russia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Export.gov International Offices Page
Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State
Travel and Business Information