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.
Russia recognized the United States on October 28, 1803, and diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia were formally established in 1809. Diplomatic relations were interrupted following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. On December 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson instructed all American diplomatic representatives in Russia to refrain from any direct communication with representatives of the Bolshevik Government. Although diplomatic relations were never formally severed, the United States refused to recognize or have any formal relations with the Bolshevik/Soviet governments until 1933. Normal diplomatic relations were resumed on November 16, 1933. On December 25, 1991, the United States recognized the Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union and established diplomatic relations on December 31, 1991.
The United States has long sought a full and constructive relationship with Russia. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States adopted a bipartisan strategy to facilitate cooperation on global issues and promote foreign investment and trade. The United States supported Russia’s integration into European and global institutions and a deepened bilateral partnership in security cooperation to reinforce the foundations of stability and predictability. Russia ultimately rejected this approach in favor of aggressive pursuit of its unilateral interests. In response to the Russian violation in 2014 of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States downgraded the bilateral political and military relationship and suspended the Bilateral Presidential Commission, a body jointly founded in 2009 by the United States and Russia to promote cooperation between the two countries. In addition to ongoing Russian aggression in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has attempted to position itself as a great power competitor to the United States by undermining norms within the existing international system using a suite of “hybrid” tools. Russia’s campaign aims to undermine core institutions of the West, such as NATO and the EU, and to weaken faith in the democratic and free-market system. Russia’s aggressive foreign policy is driven at least in part by an effort to use foreign adventurism to distract from significant domestic political and economic issues. The Kremlin increasingly relies on repression to stifle civil society and critical voices, even using the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to further restrict freedom of expression and assembly. New constitutional amendments approved by the government and endorsed in a nationwide vote in July 2020 will, inter alia, provide President Putin the opportunity to remain in power until 2036.
This pattern of Russian repression at home, aggression against its neighbors, attacks on democratic institutions against our allies and here in the United States, and adventurism in the Middle East, Africa, and South America, all spring from this relative weakness and insecurity. The United States has sought to deter Russian aggression through the projection of strength and unity with U.S. allies and partners, and by building resilience and reducing vulnerability among allies and partners facing Russian pressure and coercion. The United States would like to move beyond the current low level of trust with Russia, stabilize our relationship, and cooperate where possible and when it is in the core U.S. national security interest to do so. To achieve this, Russia must take demonstrable steps to show it is willing to be a responsible global actor, starting with a cessation of efforts to interfere in democratic processes. The long-term goal of the United States is to see Russia become a constructive stakeholder in the global community.
Bilateral Economic Relations
In response to Russia’s ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, the United States has suspended bilateral engagement with the Russian government on most economic issues. The United States continues to investigate allegations of mistreatment of or discrimination against U.S. investors in Russia and to urge Russia to improve its investment climate, adherence to the rule of law, and transparency. In Russia, the U.S. Commercial Service continues to assist U.S. firms interested in developing market opportunities that do not violate sanctions.
Since 2014, the United States and our European and G-7 partners have imposed sanctions on Russia for its aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine, occupation of Crimea, and interference in U.S. elections. Sectoral sanctions have reduced Russia’s ability to access financing in the financial, energy, and defense sectors, as well as limited its access to certain technologies in those sectors. The United States has also imposed a number of unilateral sanctions on Russia or Russian entities, via both administrative action and legislation.
A combination of low oil prices, structural limitations, and sanctions pushed Russia into a deep recession in 2015, with the economy contracting by four percent that year and one percent in 2016. Russia’s economy returned to modest growth starting in 2017, owing to a global rebound in oil prices. The economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the drop in oil price resulting from the Russian-Saudi oil price war of early 2020 and a decrease in global demand, have pushed the Russian economy into another recession. An OPEC+ agreement in April 2020 caused oil prices to rebound somewhat, but the economic forecast for Russia remains uncertain at best.
Russia’s Status in International Organizations
Russia is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council and a member of the Council of Europe. Russia’s participation in the G8 (now G-7) was suspended in March 2014 in response to its purported annexation of Crimea. Although Russia is not a member of NATO, NATO suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia as a result of Russia’s 2014 actions in Ukraine; however, necessary political and military channels of communication between NATO and Russia remain open. Russia is a participating State in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and East Asia Summit (EAS), and an observer state to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Russia also takes part in a number of regional organizations including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Eurasian Economic Community, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The U.S. Ambassador to Russia is John J. Sullivan; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
More information about Russia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: