Russia

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Overview

From the end of World War II to almost the end of the 20th century, the relationship between the United States and that of Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, was the most dominant of any two countries in the world. Locked into a Cold War of capitalism versus communism, the US and USSR looked suspiciously upon one another while arming proxies in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and preparing for the ultimate conflict—World War III—involving nuclear weapons. The arms race engulfed security issues not only of the two countries, but the entire world, as the outbreak of nuclear-armed conflict threatened to destroy the entire planet.

 
Fortunately, after more than 40 years of threats and fears, the Cold War ended once the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia arose as the new power as the USSR split up. Washington gladly welcomed Russia’s embrace of democratic elections, as well as economic reforms geared towards building a free market economy. For the decade that followed, the US focused its foreign affairs on other matters, such as the growing threat from Islamic radicals, while Russia dealt with regional concerns, such as Chechnya.
 
However, over the course of the current decade, things have grown chilly again between Washington and Moscow. The Bush administration had plans to deploy a defense against ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe, which caused great alarm in Russia, who had steadfastly opposed the idea. Bush’s support of a system of ballistic missiles followed the expansion of NATO in 1997 to include former Soviet allies such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.  In light of that, the missile defense plan has pushed Moscow into a posture not seen since the 1980s. In late 2008, Russian leaders made clear their plans to bolster the country’s nuclear arsenal, develop their own missile defense, and place their forces on constant alert.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains (Caucasus range) along southern borders. Largest country in Asia in terms of land mass. Bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan to the south, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Poland, Norway, and Finland to the west.

 
Population: 140.7 million
 
Religions: Russian Orthodox 70.0%, Muslim 12.6%, Buddhist 1.4%, Protestant 1.4%, Jewish 0.4%, Roman Catholic 0.4%, Ethnoreligious 0.7%, Hindu 0.5%. In actuality religious participation is quite low, a legacy of Soviet rule.
 
Ethnic Groups: Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other 12.1%.
 
Languages: Russian (official) 81.3%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.2%, Chechen 0.7%, Avar 0.4%, Mari (Eastern, Western) 0.4%, Udmurt 0.4%, Tatar 0.3%, Yaku 0.3%, Erzya 0.3%, Kabardian 0.3%, Karachay-Balkar 0.2%, Buriat 0.2%, Tuvin 0.1%, Adyghe 0.09%, Khakas 0.04%, Aleut, Ainu. There are 101 living languages in Russia.
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History

The modern Russian state was founded in 862. In the 10th century, Christianity became the state religion under Vladimir, who adopted Greek Orthodoxy, and Byzantine culture predominated over Russia’s architectural, musical, and artistic creations.

 
Various invaders assaulted the Kievan state and, Mongols under Batu Khan destroyed the main population centers except for Novgorod and Pskov in the 13th century and prevailed over the region until 1480.
 
In the post-Mongol period, Muscovy gradually became the dominant principality. Ivan III (1462-1505) referred to his empire as “the Third Rome” and considered it heir to the Byzantine tradition. Ivan IV (1530-1584) was the first Russian ruler to call himself tsar. He pushed Russian eastward with his conquests but his later reign was marked by the cruelty that earned him the name Ivan the Terrible. He was succeeded by Boris Godunov, whose reign commenced the so-called “Time of Troubles.” Relative stability was achieved when Michael Romanov established the dynasty that bore his name in 1613.
 
During the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725), modernization and European influences spread in Russia. Peter created Western-style military forces, subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to the tsar, reformed the entire governmental structure, and established the beginnings of a Western-style education system. He moved the capital westward from Moscow to St. Petersburg, a newly-established city on the Baltic. His introduction of European customs generated nationalistic resentments in society and spawned the philosophical rivalry between “Westernizers” and nationalistic “Slavophiles” that remains a key dynamic of current Russian social and political thought.
 
Catherine the Great continued Peter’s expansionist policies and established Russia as a European power. During her reign (1762-96), power was centralized in the monarchy, and administrative reforms concentrated great wealth and privilege in the hands of the Russian nobility. Catherine was also known as an enthusiastic patron of art, literature and education as well as for her correspondence with Voltaire and other Enlightenment figures. Catherine also engaged in a territorial resettlement of Jews into what became known as “The Pale of Settlement,” where great numbers of Jews were concentrated and later subject to vicious attacks known as pogroms.
 
Alexander I (1801-1825) began his reign as a reformer, but after defeating Napoleon’s 1812 attempt to conquer Russia, he became much more conservative and rolled back many of his early reforms. During this era, Russia gained control of Georgia and much of the Caucasus.
 
Throughout the 19th century, the Russian government sought to suppress repeated attempts at reform and attempts at liberation by various national movements, particularly under the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855). Its economy failed to compete with those of Western countries. Russian cities were growing without an industrial base to generate employment, although emancipation of the serfs in 1861 foreshadowed urbanization and rapid industrialization late in the century. At the same time, Russia expanded into the rest of the Caucasus, Central Asia and across Siberia. The port of Vladivostok was opened on the Pacific coast in 1860. The Trans-Siberian Railroad opened vast frontiers to development late in the century. In the 19th century, Russian culture flourished as Russian artists made significant contributions to world literature, visual arts, dance, and music, including Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Repin, and Tchaikovsky.
 
Alexander II (1855-1881), a relatively liberal tsar, emancipated the serfs. His 1881 assassination, however, prompted the reactionary rule of Alexander III (1881-1894). At the turn of the century, imperial decline had become evident. Russia was defeated in the unpopular Russo-Japanese war in 1905. The Russian Revolution of 1905 forced Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a constitution and introduce limited democratic reforms. The government suppressed opposition and manipulated popular anger into anti-Semitic pogroms. Attempts at economic change, such as land reform, were not completed.
 
The ruinous effects of World War I, combined with internal pressures, sparked the February Revolution of 1917  that led Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the throne. A provisional government came to power, headed by Aleksandr Kerenskiy. On November 7, 1917, the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized control and established the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Civil war broke out in 1918 between Lenin's “Red” army and various “White” forces (including those of the United States) and lasted until 1920.Despite foreign interventions and a war with Poland, the Bolsheviks triumphed. After the Red army conquered Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, a new nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was formed in 1922.
 
Among the USSR’s first political figures was Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party and head of the first Soviet government, who died in 1924. In the late 1920s, Josef Stalin emerged as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) amidst intra-party rivalries. In the 1930s, Stalin oversaw the forced collectivization of tens of millions of its citizens in state agricultural and industrial enterprises. Millions died in the process. Millions more died in political purges, the vast penal and labor system, and in state-created famines. Initially allied to Nazi Germany, which resulted in significant territorial additions on its western border, the USSR was attacked by the Axis on June 22, 1941.
 
Twenty million Soviet citizens died during World War II in the successful effort to defeat Germany, in addition to over two million Soviet Jews who perished in the Holocaust. After the war, the USSR became one of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. In 1949, the USSR developed its own nuclear arsenal.
 
Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, served as Communist Party leader until he was ousted in 1964. Aleksey Kosygin became Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and Leonid Brezhnev was made First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee in 1964. In 1971, Brezhnev rose to become “first among equals” in a collective leadership. Brezhnev died in 1982 and was succeeded by Yuriy Andropov (1982-84) and Konstantin Chernenko (1984-85).
 
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the last General Secretary of the CPSU. Gorbachev introduced policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). But his efforts to reform the Communist system from within failed and Soviet rule ultimately collapsed.
 
Boris Yeltsin was elected the first president of the Russian Federation in 1991. In August, a group of Soviet hardliners attempted to retake control of the country, but the coup failed within days. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. Gorbachev resigned as Soviet President on December 25, 1991. Eleven days later, the USSR was formally dissolved.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its successor state, inheriting its permanent seat on the UN Security Council, as well as the bulk of its foreign assets and debt. By the fall of 1993, politics in Russia reached a stalemate between President Yeltsin and the parliament. The parliament had succeeded in blocking, overturning, or ignoring the president’s initiatives on drafting a new constitution, conducting new elections, and making further progress on democratic and economic reforms.
 
In a dramatic speech on September 21, 1993, Yeltsin dissolved the Russian parliament and called for new national elections and a new constitution. The standoff between the executive branch and opponents in the legislature turned violent in October after supporters of the parliament tried to instigate an armed insurrection. Yeltsin ordered the army to respond with force to capture the parliament building and crush the insurrection. In December 1993, voters elected a new parliament and approved a new constitution that had been drafted by the Yeltsin government. Yeltsin remained the dominant political figure, although a broad array of parties, including ultra-nationalists, liberals, agrarians, and communists, had substantial representation in the parliament and competed actively in elections at all levels of government.
 
In late 1994, the Russian security forces launched a brutal operation in the Republic of Chechnya against rebels who were intent on separation from Russia. Along with their opponents, Russian forces committed numerous violations of human rights. The protracted conflict, which received close scrutiny in the Russian media, raised serious human rights and humanitarian concerns abroad as well as within Russia. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to institute a cease-fire, in August 1996 the Russian and Chechen authorities negotiated a settlement that resulted in a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the holding of elections in January 1997. A peace treaty was concluded in May 1997.
 
Following a number of terrorist incidents blamed on Chechen separatists, the Russian government launched a new military campaign into Chechnya. By spring 2000, federal forces claimed control over Chechen territory, but fighting continues as rebel fighters regularly ambush Russian forces in the region. Throughout 2002 and 2003, the ability of Chechen separatists to battle the Russian forces waned but they claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts. In 2005 and 2006, key separatist leaders were killed by Russian forces. The situation stabilized after Ramzan Kadyrov was confirmed as Chechen president, although small-scale fighting continues between rebel forces and local law enforcement.
 
On December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigned, and Vladimir Putin was named Acting President. In March 2000, he won election in his own right as Russia’s second president with 53% of the vote. Putin moved quickly to reassert Moscow’s control over the regions, whose governors had confidently ignored edicts from Boris Yeltsin. He sent his own “plenipotentiary representatives” to ensure that Moscow’s policies were followed in recalcitrant regions and republics. He won enactment of liberal economic reforms that rescued a faltering economy and stopped a spiral of hyperinflation. Putin achieved wide popularity by stabilizing the government, especially in marked contrast to what many Russians saw as the chaos of the latter Yeltsin years. The economy grew both because of rising oil prices and in part because Putin was able to achieve reforms in banking, labor, and private property.
 
Russia’s reputation suffered internationally in late 2004 when it threw its support behind government candidates in Ukraine and the Georgian region of Abkhazia. In both elections, the candidates Moscow had opposed ultimately succeeded despite strong resistance on the part of the existing governments to change. Russia subsequently moved quickly to side with opponents of Kyrgyzstan president Askar Akayev when he was forced from office. Large-scale violence erupted in the Caucasus in October 2005, when militants with ties to the Chechen rebels mounted coordinated attacks in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria.
 
In late 2005 Russia found itself accused of using its state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom, as a punitive instrument of foreign policy. The company insisted that Ukraine pay market rates for natural gas, despite having been given a favorable long-term contract when Russia had unsuccessfully tried to influence the Ukrainian presidential race. When negotiations failed, Gazprom cut off supplies to Ukraine in January 2006, a move that also affected supplies in transit to other European nations, provoking European concerns about the reliability of Russian gas deliveries.
 
The question of Russia’s manipulation of its energy shipments for political purposes became an issue again in late 2006 when Gazprom announced it would double the rate it charged Georgia (to roughly market rates). Gazprom also increased its charges for natural gas to several other formerly Soviet-ruled nations. One such nation, Belarus, usually a strong Russian ally, responded to an increase in the Russian duty on oil exported to it by imposing a transit tax on Russian oil exported through pipelines in Belarus. The move provoked a spat that led Russia to cut off oil for several days before Belarus revoked the tax. In 2009 Gazprom again cutoff supplies to Ukraine, before promising to restore them a couple of weeks later.
 
Tensions with Moldova over the Trans-Dniester region, a disputed territory west of Ukraine, and with Georgia increased in early 2006, and Russia banned the imports of wine and brandy from both nations, supposedly for health reasons. The arrest by Georgia in September 2006 of several Russians on charges of spying provoked a strong retaliatory response from Russia, including the breaking of all transport and postal links.
 
Russia’s strong objections to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia contributed to NATO’s decision to offer those nations eventual membership. However, NATO did not begin the process that would ultimately lead to the admission of those countries. Those objections may also have been behind Russia’s increasingly provocative actions in 2008 with respect to the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In July 2008, the Czech Republic signed an agreement with the United States to base a radar system there. Shortly thereafter Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic declined, which Russia coincidentally attributed to technical problems.
 
Stanislav Markelov, a prominent Russian lawyer who spent the better part of a decade pursuing contentious human rights and social justice cases, was killed in January 2009 in a daylight assassination in central Moscow. Officials said they believed that Markelov was the primary target since he had brought cases against the Russian military, Chechen warlords, and murderous neo-fascists. He also worked closely with Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist and critic of Russia’s Chechnya policies, who was murdered in Moscow in 2006. Another human rights investigator in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered in July 2009.
 
History of Russia (Wikipedia)
Russian History (Jewish Virtual Library)
History of Russia (HistoryWorld.net)
Chronology of Russia (Bucknell University)
Pre-Revolution Russia (AlexanderPalace.org)
History of Russia (Google Books)
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Russia's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Russia

Immigration:

The first Russian foray into (current) US territory was the establishment of a colony on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, in 1784. By 1812 Russians had moved as far south as northern California. However, the contingent of Russian explorers (never numbering more than 500) returned home in 1867 when the Russian government sold Alaska to the US. 
 
The first major immigration wave, occurring from 1880-1914, was composed of 3.2 million people united in their search for economic opportunity. Almost all of these immigrants came from modern-day Ukraine and Belarus, and about half of them were Jews, fleeing the pogroms that sporadically threatened the Jewish community during this period. The tsarist regime had issued a ban on all emigration, except for Poles and Jews, and the communists strengthened these restrictive policies when they came to power in 1917. 
 
The next massive wave came between 1920-1922, when two million “white” (for their fierce opposition to the Bolshevik Reds) aristocrats, clergy, professionals, intellectuals, artists, peasants and soldiers fled in a worldwide diaspora. Most of those who left settled throughout Europe, and only 30,000 ultimately ended up in the United States. 
 
Another 20,000 Russians came to the US in the aftermath of World War II, often after being held as prisoners of war in Germany. Although US-Russian relations remained cold, in 1969 Russia agreed to allow Jews to emigrate. Officially, Russian Jews were only allowed to immigrate to Israel, but 300,000 wound up arriving in the US during this period. Following the liberal policies of Gorbachev’s regime, borders have opened and all Russian citizens are free to emigrate. Russian Jews traditionally settled in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, while non-Jews have formed communities in these cities as well as Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Recently, the sunny states of California, Texas, and Florida have claimed a large share of new immigrants.
 
Political Relations:
The adversarial relationship that marked American-Soviet affairs in the 20th century began before the USSR was even established, thanks to the United States’ decision to intervene militarily in the Russian civil war. In 1918, US military forces joined with other Allied countries to support the “White Army” fighting to restore the Tsarist government to power. The military effort by the US proved fruitless, as the “Red Army” of the Bolsheviks took control of Russia and set about creating the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
 
During the inter-war period between World War I and World War II, US-Soviet relations were relatively calm, owing to Moscow’s focus on implementing socialist policies across the USSR and the US sway towards isolationism. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt committed the US to aiding “our Russian allies” in the fight against Nazism. Thousands of tons of supplies were shipped by sea to the USSR to help strengthen the Red Army and avoid Germany taking over all of Soviet territory.
 
As the end of WWII neared, the leaders of the “Big Three” (US, USSR and England) met at key conferences (Yalta and Potsdam) to discuss war strategy and post-war issues. American concerns over communism were tempered as long as the fight was still against fascism. However, once the war ended, many in Washington wondered how the US should behave towards its Soviet ally once fighting had ceased. When American and Russian soldiers met up in conquered Germany in 1945, some US commanders, such as General George Patton, were ready to continue the fight—only now with Soviet forces occupying Eastern Europe. Patton was joined privately by some US policymakers who debated whether the US could trust the Soviets, who quickly began to fortify control over governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and other European nations.
 
After four years of brutal combat in the Pacific and Europe, the US was in no position to force the issue with Soviet moves in Eastern Europe. Instead, Washington adopted a policy of “containment”—an ideal first proposed by diplomat George Kennan, who called on the US to counter the spread of communism through political, economic and, if necessary, military means. But instead of head-to-head combat, the US chose to put its muscle into proxy wars during the next 40 years, sending supplies, and in some cases American military forces, to Africa, Asia and the Middle East against those nations allied with Moscow. The most dangerous flashpoint came in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Washington and Moscow got caught up in a game of “nuclear brinkmanship” over the placement of Soviet missiles on the island of Cuba. Although the crisis ended without having shots fired, the incident demonstrated just how dangerously close the two “superpowers” would go to in order to thwart the international agendas of either side.
 
As the Cold War evolved, the stakes between the US and USSR escalated to the point where world survival came into question as each side developed an ever-expanding arsenal of nuclear weapons. With each new missile or warhead developed by one side, the other countered with some new weapon or counter-measure, setting in motion an “arms race” that consumed billions of dollars. First, it was long-range bombers during the 1950s armed with nuclear warheads that flew round-the-clock missions in preparation for World War III. Then, it was intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the 1960s and 1970s with multiple warheads that could be launched within minutes from silos buried underground. And finally, space-based plans were researched in the 1980s as part of Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” program (Strategic Defense Initiative) to render the Soviet nuclear threat “impudent and obsolete.” This only galvanized Moscow into financing even newer systems to counteract any missile defense deployed by the US.
 
Although most of the 1980s were marked by intense hostility between the superpowers, the end of the decade proved to be a watershed in US-Soviet relations, if not international relations as a whole. Thanks to breakthroughs in arms control talks, and face-to-face meetings between Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev, a “thaw” began to evolve in the Cold War. Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost also began to hasten important reforms that wound up undermining the strict control of the Communist party, first in the USSR, and later its satellite in Eastern Europe. By the beginning of the 1990s, the USSR had collapsed, bringing an end to an almost 50-year struggle that dominated the foreign affairs of Washington and Moscow.
 
As the Soviet Union gave way to the “return” of Russia, the United States embraced the post-communist order led by Boris Yeltsin. Consequently, the US lent considerable support to helping Russia make the transition from a command economy to one based on free markets. With the end of the Cold War, the US, led by President Bill Clinton, focused its energies on domestic matters instead of geopolitics, now that the international scene was no longer divided between East and West.
 
In fact, by the late 1990s, American and Russian leaders were speaking in terms of joint military cooperation when it came to defending both countries from “rogue” missile attacks. Following White House talks in 1999, President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin spoke at length about the emerging threat of missile attacks from nations like Iran and North Korea, hinting at a growing consensus around efforts to develop anti-missile defense systems. Though no specific proposals were offered by either side, both emerged from the talks speaking of mutual interests in missile defense. Stepashin said both nations should work together toward a “global security system.”
 
With sights set on the end of 2009, Russia and the US are now seeking to draft an arms deal treaty that will mutually reduce their stockpile of nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton noted that differences in positions of the two nations still remain, including Washington’s missile defense shield. As relations warm between Russia and the US, officials from both sides note that they are propelled by the continued advancement of nuclear technology from more erratic countries, including North Korea and Iran.
 
“The ballistic missile threat is not from Russia but from unstable regimes,” said Stepashin. “These threats also affect Russia.”
 
U.S.-Russian Relations: Avoiding a Cold Peace (by John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus)
U.S., Russia To Develop A Joint Missile Defense (by Jonathan Weisman, Baltimore Sun)
 
Foreign Relations Volumes Related to Russia (State Department/University of Illinois):
 
Other Historical Data Related to Russia (State Department):
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Current U.S. Relations with Russia

Relations between the US and Russia have steadily declined during this decade, however there are indications of warming relations. At the outset of the Bush administration, Russia expressed willingness to work with the US on issues related to terrorism and security. But during the president’s second term, a “frost” had begun to develop once again between the two mighty powers. In 2006, President Bush decided to open a new era of civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia. The two governments negotiated an agreement and initialed it just days before President Vladimir Putin went fishing with Bush at the family compound in Kennebunkport, ME.

 
A senior Russian official visited Washington in early 2008 for what some thought would be a signing ceremony, only to have the administration pull back. During the Bush Administration the nuclear pact, once a symbol of closer US-Russia ties, stalled amid a quiet struggle in Washington over whether to trust Moscow.
 
In the waning months of the Bush Administration, an Independent Task Force on US policy toward Russia sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations reported, “Contention is crowding out consensus. The very idea of a ‘strategic partnership’ no longer seems realistic.” The bipartisan task force was chaired by former Senator John Edwards and former Congressman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp.
 
Russia has been extending its military reach with long-distance air and naval operations. Two Russian bombers buzzed the USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean in 2006, prompting US fighter jets to intercept them. American officials reported eight similar incidents off Alaska from July 2005 to March 2006.
 
The prospect that the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia might join NATO so angered Putin that he threatened to target nuclear missiles at Ukraine’s capital of Kiev if the country becomes part of the Western military alliance. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded with unusual force, declaring that the “reprehensible rhetoric that is coming out of Moscow is unacceptable.”
 
Furthermore, American plans to include components of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic have provoked a strong response from Russia. President Putin said that such a move would force Russia to target Europe with its weapons, and he announced that he was suspending Russia’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.
 
Experts say relations between Washington and Moscow hit a low point in 2008, following the August five-day war between Georgia and Russia.
 
A total of 2,652,214 people identified themselves as being of Russian ancestry in the 2000 US census. 
 
In 2006, 351,261 Americans visited Russia. Except for a dip in 2005, tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 235,696 Americans traveled to Russia.
 
Russians visiting the US in 2006 numbered 94,681. The number of tourists has increased gradually since 2002, when 64,228 Russians came to America.
 
A Turning Point in U.S.-Russian Relations? (by Andrew Kuchins, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
A New Century of U.S.-Russia Relations (by Alexander Bessmertnykh, James Collins, Yuri Dubinin, Arthur Hartman, Victor Komplektov, Vladimir Lukin, Jack Matlock Jr., Thomas Pickering, and Yuli Vorontsov, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
U.S.-Russia Relations Chilly Amid Transition (by Peter Baker, Washington Post)
What Has Moscow Done? Rebuilding U.S.-Russian Relations (by Stephen Sestanovich, Foreign Affairs)
Russia-U.S. Nuclear Deal Makes World Safer (editorial, Calgary Herald)
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Where Does the Money Flow

A powerful group of American corporations are pushing for expanded trade opportunities with Russia, through the guise of the Coalition for US-Russia Trade. The organization includes Chevron, BP America, AIG, Boeing, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical Company, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, Ford, GE, General Motors, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Procter & Gamble.

 
It is no surprise that the coalition involves some of the world’s largest oil companies. Russia possesses the eighth largest oil reserves in the world, and American imports were led by the purchasing of fuel oil ($5.7 billion), crude oil ($2.5 billion), and other petroleum products ($2.04 billion) from Russia in 2007.
 
Other top imports from Russia include bauxite and aluminum ($1.3 billion), nuclear fuel materials ($935 million), nickel ($805 million), and fertilizers ($662 million).
 
Three US exports to Russia standout from all the rest: Meat ($980 million), civilian aircraft ($718 million), and passenger cars ($703 million). Other leading exports include drilling and oilfield equipment ($426 million), agricultural machinery and equipment ($361 million), generators ($238 million), trucks and buses ($226 million), and excavating machinery ($213 million).
 
Overall, the US is running a trade deficit with Russia, importing $19.3 billion vs. $7.3 billion in exports.
 
The US sold $40.7 million of defense articles and services to Russia in 2007.
 
The US gave $67.2 million in aid to Russia in 2007. The budget allocated the largest share of funds to the Civil Society ($21.9 million), Health ($21.2, including $5.3 million for the Global HIV/AIDS initiative), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($7.1 million), Good Governance ($3.4 million), and Economic Opportunity ($2.9 million). 
 
The 2008 budget estimate increased aid to $78 million, but the 2009 budget request will reduce funding drastically to $56.3 million. In 2009 the budget will distribute the most aid to Civil Society ($15.8 million), Health ($15.8 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($6.6 million), and Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation ($3.5 million).
 
Russia will also receive funds through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) outside of the foreign operations budget.
 
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Controversies

A New Arms Race?

Russian leaders announced in September 2008 that they plan to build new space and missile defense shields and put their armed forces on permanent combat alert. In a sharp escalation of military rhetoric, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a wholesale renovation of Russia’s nuclear deterrence and told military chiefs to draw up plans to reorganize the armed forces by December. He said that Russia must modernize its nuclear defenses within eight years, including the creation of a “system of air and space defense.” The announcement had seemingly put Russia in a new arms race with the United States. This had infuriated the Kremlin because it sought to establish an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe.
 
Recently, however, US President Barack Obama and Medvedev reached a preliminary agreement that may ameliorate earlier fears of a continued arms race. A series of talks between the two powers is aimed at drafting a new accord that will maintain the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will expire in December of this year. The pact seeks to cut Russian and American nuclear arsenals by as much as one third. There has been disagreement concerning missile launcher and bombers, which the US is unwilling to sharply reduce its numbers. But despite their differences, the two nations agree that they can work together to counter threats posed by rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea.
 
U.S. and Russia to Reduce Arsenals (by Michael A. Fletcher and Philip P. Pan, Washington Post)
 
Anti-Missile Pact Draws Russian Ire
Russia has warned the US, Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania that it would be forced to react with military means if the countries go ahead with plans for a missile shield. Moscow officials said placing the anti-missile system near Russia’s borders could weaken its own defenses. It has previously threatened to aim its own missiles at any eventual base in Poland or the Czech Republic. The Pentagon says the shield is designed to counter a threat from the Middle East, not Russia.
 
An agreement reached between the US and the Czech Republic allows a tracking radar base to be set up on Czech territory. Poland, meanwhile, would host 10 interceptor missiles, though Polish officials have been reluctant to agree to the idea. In March 2008, President George W. Bush announced that the United States had agreed to help the Polish military in exchange for the right to install a US missile defense system in the country. The Polish military’s equipment would be upgraded to be able to defend against short and medium-range missile attacks, most likely from Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles. The US missile shield also would protect against long-range missiles.
 
In June 2008, it was reported that US officials were secretly negotiating with Lithuania to convince the Baltic state to host missile interceptors, in the event Poland backs out.
 
President Barack Obama has yet to formally announce whether or not his administration will pursue the missile defense program proposed under the Bush Administration that would put 10 missile interceptors in Poland. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to move his country’s short-range missiles to its borders with NATO allies while the US continued to offer proposals of nuclear arms reduction and missile defense.
 
The US Missile Defense Agency is examining different types of missile defense technology and is exploring various defenses that could be deployed from Europe. US lawmakers are expected to receive the review concerning US programs and operations of ballistic defense by December 2009.
 
BMD in Eastern Europe: Controversy and Resistance (NTI/Monterey’s Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
 
Russian Planes Buzz American Aircraft Carrier
US fighter planes intercepted two Russian bombers, including one that buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific in February 2008. One Russian Tupolev 95 flew directly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. The incident, which never escalated beyond the flyover, came amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over US plans for a missile defense system based in Eastern Europe. Such Russian bomber flights were common during the Cold War, but have been rare since.
 
US Plans for New Base in Romania Angers Russia
In February 2008, Russian president Vladimir Putin reacted angrily to US plans to establish new military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, saying that Russia would respond to military expansion near its borders. The US has said that the moves were designed for diplomatic purposes, but Putin maintained that the American military plans are on a “one-way” basis, and leave his country unprotected.
 
President George W. Bush Visits Latvia, Criticizes Russia
In May 2005, President Bush visited Latvia, despite objections from Russia. During the trip marking the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, Bush said that Russia should treat its Baltic neighbors with respect and not fear the rise of democracies along its borders. Russia has refused to apologize for occupying the Baltic States, insisting that the Latvian government invited Russian troops into their country. The visit, along with Bush’s remarks, drew sharp rebukes from Russian officials.
Bush’s Bitburg? (by Mark Ames, The Nation)             
Russia Rebukes Bush on Remark (by Peter Baker, Washington Post)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that numerous disappearances in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus have raised concerns that federal and local forces continued to engage in unlawful killings. The NGO Memorial reported 75 disappearances—25 in Chechnya, 22 in Ingushetiya, 22 in Dagestan, and six in North Ossetiya—during the first eight months of 2007. In most cases, government forces involved in disappearances acted with impunity.

 
Although prohibited in the constitution, torture is not defined in the law or the criminal code. As a result, the only accusation prosecutors could bring against police suspected of such behavior was that they exceeded their authority or committed a simple assault.
 
There were credible reports that law enforcement personnel engaged in torture, abuse, and violence to coerce confessions from suspects and allegations that the government did not consistently hold officials accountable for such actions. There were reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by federal or local government security forces in connection with the conflict in Chechnya.
 
According to the US State Department “cases of physical abuse by police officers usually occurred within the first few hours or days of arrest. Some of the methods reportedly used were: beatings with fists, batons, or other objects; asphyxiation using gas masks or bags (at times filled with mace); electric shocks; or suspension by body parts (for example, suspending a victim from the wrists, which were tied together behind the back). A Muslim prisoner alleged that an interior ministry officer pulled parts of his beard out and forced vodka down his throat. Allegations of abuse were difficult to substantiate because of limited access to medical professionals. According to the annual report of the country’s human rights ombudsman, the majority of police brutality cases in 2006 were reported in Komi and Mordoviya republics, Krasnoyarsk Kray, Amur, Kirov, Sverdlov, and Tyumen regions. A November 2006 report by Amnesty International documented 114 cases of alleged torture by police to obtain confessions.
 
“In 2006 the human rights ombudsman received approximately 3,000 complaints about abuses in jails and prisons. The ombudsman’s office determined that half merited investigation, but were only able to adequately investigate 123 cases due to obstruction by prison officials.
 
“Reports by refugees, NGOs, and the press suggested a pattern of police beatings, arrests, and extortion directed at persons with dark skin or who appeared to be of Caucasus, Central Asian, African, or Romani ethnicity.
 
“Prison conditions remained extremely harsh and frequently life threatening. Abuse of prisoners by other prisoners continued to be a problem. Violence among inmates, including beatings and rape, was common. There were elaborate inmate-enforced caste systems in which informers, homosexuals, rapists, prison rape victims, child molesters, and others were considered to be “untouchable” and were treated harshly, with little or no protection provided by prison authorities.”
 
There have been some significant prosecutions of corrupt police officers. For example, the US State Department noted “in November 2007, four police officers were found guilty of charges relating to the "werewolves in uniform" case that involved Ministry of Internal Affairs officers using their positions to engage in criminal activity. The four officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from nine to 17 years. In 2006, the group's leader and six other officers were convicted of charges that included extortion, bribery, and trafficking in drugs and weapons.
 
“Human rights organizations and activists have identified various individuals as political prisoners: Zara Murtazaliyeva, Valentin Danilov, Igor Sutyagin, Mikhail Khodorkovskiy, Platon Lebedev, and Svetlana Bakhmina. All remained imprisoned at the end of 2008. Murtazaliyeva of Chechnya was convicted in 2005 of preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Moscow in 2004. She was sentenced to nine years in a general regime prison. Murtazaliyeva’s defense lawyers and human rights defenders who monitored her trial maintain that the charges against her were fabricated, and some considered her a political prisoner.”
 
Danilov was serving a 13-year sentence for allegedly transferring classified technology to China. Colleagues and supporters asserted that the information in question was declassified over a decade ago, leading some human rights organizations to consider Danilov’s case to be politically motivated.
 
Based on a report by the US State Department “Sutyagin, a disarmament researcher with the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was convicted in 2004 on espionage-related charges and was serving a 15-year sentence in a maximum security prison for allegedly passing classified information about Russia’s nuclear weapons to a London‑based firm. Sutyagin and human rights groups claimed that he had no access to classified information, and that the government sought a severe sentence to discourage others from sharing sensitive information with other countries. Amnesty International has deemed Sutyagin a political prisoner, and other domestic and international human rights groups raised concerns that the charges were politically motivated and that there were problems in the conduct of the trial and the lengthy sentence.
 
“For the second year in a row, there was a significant increase in the number of killings, usually by unknown assailants, targeting both civilians and officials in Ingushetiya. Human rights organizations report that, in contrast to years when the conflict in Chechnya was more severe and Ingushetiya had relatively few killings, during the year there were more killings, attacks, and abductions in Ingushetiya than in any other republic in the North Caucasus. Ingushetiya authorities, including President Murat Zyazikov, have attempted to minimize the number of abuses and attacks, despite the deployment of several thousand additional Interior Ministry troops to stabilize the republic.
 
“The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, in practice government pressure on the media persisted, resulting in numerous infringements of these rights. The government used direct ownership or ownership by large private companies with links to the government to control or influence the major media outlets, especially television; many media organizations saw their autonomy further weaken.” The government used its controlling ownership in major national television and radio stations, as well as the majority of influential regional ones, to restrict access to information about issues deemed sensitive, including coverage of opposition political parties, particularly during the parliamentary elections campaign.
 
“The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, during the State Duma election, highlighted numerous press freedom abuses, including harassment of media outlets, legislative limitations, lack of equal access, and arbitrary application of rules. Unresolved killings of journalists remained a problem. Mistreatment of journalists by authorities included reported cases of abuse, including physical assault. The government severely restricted coverage by all media of events in Chechnya. There were indications that government pressure led reporters to engage in self‑censorship, particularly on issues critical of the government.
 
“The law provides for freedom of assembly, but local authorities increasingly restricted this right in practice. On May 27, 2007, participants in a Moscow gay rights demonstration were assaulted by counter-demonstrators. Security forces did little to protect the demonstrators and arrested approximately 25 gay rights activists.”
 
Police used excessive force in violently suppressing the demonstrations by political opposition. There were cases of unlawful detentions and harassment, of human rights activists and participants in a number of Marches of Dissenters sponsored throughout the year by the opposition movement Other Russia.
 
Corruption is a widespread problem in Russia and studies have found that it increased in the past year. The World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators reflected that corruption was a severe problem.
 
According to the US State Department report “rape is illegal, and the criminal code makes no special distinctions (such as spousal rape) on the relationship between the rapist and the victim. Between January-October 2008, 5,271 rapes and attempted rapes were reported, a 13.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2007. However, according to NGOs, many women did not report rape or other violence due to social stigma and lack of government support. Rape victims can act as full legal parties to criminal cases brought against alleged assailants and seek compensation as part of a court verdict without initiating a separate civil action.”
 
Members of the medical profession, including at hospitals and elsewhere, assisted women who were assaulted, which sometimes included identifying an assault or rape case. Doctors, however, were reluctant to provide testimony in court.
 
“Spousal or acquaintance rape was not widely perceived as a problem by society or law enforcement. Women were unlikely to report cases of rape by persons they knew. Law enforcement and prosecutors held many of the same notions and reportedly did not encourage reporting or prosecution of such cases. A very small percentage of spousal or partner rape was reported to the court.
 
“Domestic violence remained a major problem. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that during the year approximately 12,000 women were killed by their husbands, boyfriends, or other family members. The ministry also estimated that more than 3,000 men were killed by their wives or girlfriends whom they had beaten. Law enforcement authorities frequently failed to respond to incidents of domestic violence. Amnesty International estimated that approximately 36,000 women were beaten by a husband or partner every day. There were no official statistics on domestic violence, but officials estimate that there were more than 250,000 violent crimes committed against women every year. Because violence is frequently not reported, the real figures are impossible to ascertain.
 
There is no legal definition of domestic violence.
 
Furthermore, the US State Department reported “internal and external trafficking continued to be a substantial problem. The scope of trafficking was difficult to quantify with reliable estimates, but observers believe it remained widespread. The country continued to be a source, destination, and place of transit for human trafficking. However, because of rapid economic growth, there has allegedly been a decrease in the number of citizens trafficked abroad. Women and children were usually trafficked for sexual exploitation, while men were trafficked into the country for construction or agricultural work. There were some cases of forced begging (persons compelled to beg through threats of force and violence), who turned their earnings over to traffickers. According to the International Labor Organization (IOM), women were trafficked to almost 50 countries in North America, Europe, the former Soviet republics, the Middle East, and Asia. Women who were trafficked abroad and returned seldom reported their experiences to police because they feared social stigma and retaliation by traffickers.”
 
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Debate

Should US Pursue Missile Defense in Face of Russian Opposition?

The concept of building a defense against ballistic missiles first arose in the 1950s during the Cold War. As experts researched ways to develop technology that could “shoot down” nuclear-tipped missiles, policymakers began to realize the limits of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system. Not only was the technology behind such a defense questionable, but the mere talk of establishing an ABM alarmed leaders on the other side who set about developing newer, more powerful weapons designed to overcome any advantage gained from installing a missile defense. With these shortcomings in mind, the US and USSR signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1972, which allowed each side to develop and deploy a limited ABM system on their own soil.
 
Ballistic missile defense again became a hot topic in the 1980s, which can be attributed to Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” vision, known officially as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Filled with ambitious notions of space-based lasers and other advanced (but undeveloped) technology, SDI was promoted as the answer to American fears of nuclear annihilation by Soviets missiles. But like the debate in the 1960s, the SDI discussion ran into the same problems: Could it really work, and what would the Soviets do in response? After billions were spent just researching SDI, Reagan’s Star Wars plan was largely scuttled, though not entirely ended.
 
During the 1990s, the Clinton administration continued to pour money into research-and-development of various land-, sea- and space-based systems that could provide a limited defense for the US in the event of an attack by a “rogue” country, such as Iran or North Korea. But the Clinton White House did not aggressively pursue the ballistic missile defense concept, which kept the Russians at ease.
 
But during the Bush administration, the promotion of an ABM plan took a new turn, and location. First, the US pulled out of the 1972 ABM treaty, much to the consternation of the Russians. Furthermore, instead of basing the system on American soil, radars and missile interceptors would be deployed in Eastern Europe, with the promise that the system would be able to shoot down missiles fired by Iran at US allies in Europe, or the US itself. The mere talk of situating a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland (both former Soviet allies) once again caused considerable blowback from officials in Moscow.
 
Supporters of the US missile defense insist the Russians have nothing to worry about. They claim the proposed ABM system would only counter potential nuclear threats from Iran, and that is only prudent for the US to pursue a defense against this hostile and unpredictable adversary. Supporters add that this limited missile defense could not affect Russia’s own strategic nuclear arsenal or limit Russia’s use of its nuclear weapons.
 
Russian leader Vladimir Putin isn’t buying this argument, and Russian officials feel humiliated by such a defense being erected in regions of former Warsaw Pact allies only 115 miles from their territory. The Russians also fear that the missile defense radar planned for the Czech Republic could “look” into Russia, and that the system is only a precursor to a much larger system that could threaten the Russian nuclear deterrent.
 
As a counter offer, Putin offered several alternatives to the US plan. First, he offered the United States use of a Russian-rented radar site in Azerbaijan, bordering Iran. He then offered use of a radar site in southern Russia and offered to work with the United States and European countries on a joint defense system. He has also proposed placing the missile defense shield under the authority of the NATO-Russia Council, and setting up joint Russia-NATO early warning centers in Moscow and Brussels.
 
More recently, Russia has begun planning for what some are calling a “new arms race” in response to the US missile defense program, which would include building new long-range missiles that could overcome the American defense, in the event it was used against Russia’s forces. This development has led some arms control experts in the US to call for the Obama administration to back off on the missile defense to avoid a return to the Cold War days of escalating weapons and dangerous posturing between Washington and Moscow.
 
Background
Missile Defense May Cause Downward Spiral in US-Russian Relations (by Ivan Eland, Center on Peace and Liberty)
What Should Obama do about Missile Defense? (by Daniel Fata, Washington Times)
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Past Ambassadors

Ambassadors to Russia have included such noteworthy names as John Quincy Adams (6th President of the United States, 1825-1829), William Pinkney (the nation’s 7th US Attorney General), James Buchanan (15th President, 1857-1861), and George F. Kennan (father of the “containment policy” that helped shape US foreign policy during the Cold War).

 
Francis Dana
Appointment: Dec 19, 1780
Note: Proceeded to post but was not officially received at court; left post Sep 1783.
 
William Short
Appointment: Sep 8, 1808
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Did not proceed to post his nomination having been rejected by the Senate while he was en route.
 
John Qunicy Adams
Appointment: Jun 27, 1809
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 5, 1809
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 28, 1814
Note: Nomination of Mar 6, 1809 rejected by the Senate; nomination of Jun 26, 1809 confirmed.
 
James A. Bayard
Appointment: Feb 28, 1815
Note: Did not proceed to post.
 
William Pinkney
Appointment: Mar 7, 1816
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 1817
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Feb 14, 1818
 
George Washington Campbell
Appointment: Apr 16, 1818
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 7, 1819
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1820
 
Henry Middleton
State of Residency: South Carolina
Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Apr 6, 1820
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 17, 1821
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Aug 3, 1830
 
John Randolph
Appointment: May 26, 1830
Note: Proceeded to post but did not present credentials; left post Sep 19, 1830.
 
James Buchanan
Appointment: Jan 4, 1832
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1832
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Aug 5, 1833
 
Mahlon Dickerson
Appointment: May 28, 1834
Note: Declined appointment.
 
William Wilkins
Appointment: Jun 30, 1834
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1834
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 24, 1835
 
John Randolph Clay
Appointment: Jun 29, 1836
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1836
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1837
 
George M. Dallas
Appointment: Mar 7, 1837
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 6, 1837
Termination of Mission: Left Russia, Jul 29, 1839
 
Churchill C. Cambreleng
Appointment: [May 25, 1840]
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 21, 1840
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 13, 1841
Note: Commissioned not of record; letter of credence issued on May 25, 1840.
 
Charles S. Todd
Appointment: Aug 27, 1841
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 28, 1841
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 27, 1846
 
Ralph I. Ingersoll
Appointment: Aug 8, 1846
Presentation of Credentials: May 30, 1847
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 1, 1848
 
Arthur P. Bagby
Appointment: Jun 15, 1848
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1849
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note soon after May 14, 1849
 
Neill S. Brown
Appointment: May 2, 1850
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 13, 1850
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 23, 1853
 
Thomas H. Seymour
Appointment: May 24, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 2, 1854
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 17, 1858
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 6, 1853.
 
Francis W. Pickens
Appointment: Jan 11, 1858
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 18, 1858
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Sep 9, 1860
 
John Appleton
Appointment: Jun 8, 1860
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1860
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1861
 
Cassius M. Clay
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 14, 1861
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 25, 1862
 
Simon Cameron
Appointment: Jan 17, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 25, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Sep 18, 1862
 
Cassius M. Clay
Appointment: Mar 11, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: May 7, 1863
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 1, 1869
 
John L. Dawson
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Henry A. Smythe
Note: Not commissioned; nomination tabled by the Senate.
 
Andrew G. Curtin
Appointment: Apr 16, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 28, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall on or shortly before Jul 1, 1872
 
James L. Orr
Appointment: Dec 12, 1872
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 18, 1873
Termination of Mission: Died at post May 6, 1873
 
Marshall Jewell
Appointment: May 29, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1873
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 19, 1874
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 10, 1873.
 
George H. Boker
Appointment: Jan 13, 1875
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 24, 1875
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jan 14, 1878
 
Edwin W. Stoughton
Appointment: Oct 30, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1878
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 2, 1879
 
John W. Foster
Appointment: Jan 26, 1880
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1880
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Aug 1, 1881
 
William H. Hunt
Appointment: Apr 12, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1882
Termination of Mission: Died at post Feb 27, 1884
 
Aaron H. Sargent
Note: Not commissioned although nomination was confirmed by the Senate.
 
Alphonso Taft
Appointment: Jul 4, 1884
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 3, 1884
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 31, 1885
 
Alexander R. Lawton
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
George V.N. Lothrop
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Aug 1, 1888
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886.
 
Lambert Tree
Appointment: Sep 25, 1888
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 2, 1889
 
Allen Thorndike Rice
Appointment: Mar 30, 1889
Note: Took oath of office, but died in the United States before proceeding to post.
 
Charles Emory Smith
Appointment: Feb 14, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1890
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 17, 1892
 
Andrew D. White
Appointment: Jul 22, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1892
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 1, 1894
 
Clifton R. Breckinridge
Appointment: Jul 20, 1894
Presentation of Credentials: [Nov 1, 1894]
Termination of Mission: Probably presented recall about Dec 10, 1897
Note: Officially recognized on Nov 1, 1894.
 
Ethan A. Hitchcock
Appointment: Aug 16, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 16, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 28, 1899
 
Charlemagne Tower
Appointment: Jan 12, 1899
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1899
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Nov 19, 1902
 
Robert S. McCormick
Appointment: Sep 26, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1903
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Mar 27, 1905
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 8, 1902.
 
George V.L. Meyer
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 12, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 26, 1907
 
John W. Riddle
Appointment: Dec 19, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 8, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 8, 1909
 
William Woodville Rockhill
Appointment: May 17, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 11, 1910
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 17, 1911
 
Curtis Guild
Appointment: Apr 24, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 24, 1913
 
Henry M. Pindell
Appointment: Jan 27, 1914
Note: Declined appointment.
 
George T. Marye
Appointment: Jul 9, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1914
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 29, 1916
 
David R. Francis
Appointment: Mar 6, 1916
Presentation of Credentials: May 5, 1916
Termination of Mission: Normal relations interrupted, Nov 7, 1917; new Government of Russia still unrecognized by the United States when Francis left Russia on Nov 7, 1918
Note: Felix Cole was serving as Charge d'Affaires ad interim when the Embassy in Russia was closed on Sep 14, 1919.
 
William Christian Bullitt
Appointment: Nov 21, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left Russia, May 16, 1936
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 15, 1934. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Joseph E. Davies
Appointment: Nov 16, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 25, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 11, 1938
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 23, 1937. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Laurence A. Steinhardt
Appointment: Mar 23, 1939
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1939
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 12, 1941
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
William H. Standley
Appointment: Feb 14, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 14, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 19, 1943
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
W. Averell Harriman
Appointment: Oct 7, 1943
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 23, 1943
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 24, 1946
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Walter Bedell Smith
Appointment: Mar 22, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 3, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 25, 1948
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Alan G. Kirk
Appointment: May 21, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 4, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 6, 1951
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
George F. Kennan
Appointment: Mar 14, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 19, 1952
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Government of the Soviet Union declared Kennan persona non grata on Oct 3, 1952, and he did not return to his post.
 
Charles E. Bohlen
Appointment: Mar 27, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 20, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 18, 1957
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Llewellyn E. Thompson
Appointment: Jun 3, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 16, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 27, 1962
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Foy D. Kohler
Appointment: Aug 20, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 27, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 14, 1966
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Llewellyn E. Thompson
Appointment: Oct 13, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 23, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 14, 1969
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Jacob D. Beam
Appointment: Mar 14, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 18, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 24, 1973
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Note: Adolph Dubs served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim, Jan 1973-Mar 1974.
 
Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 4, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 13, 1976
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Malcolm Toon
Appointment: Nov 24, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 18, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 16, 1979
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jun 8, 1977. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Thomas J. Watson, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 10, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 29, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 15, 1981
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Arthur Adair Hartman
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 26, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 20, 1987
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Jack F. Matlock, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 12, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: April 6, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1991
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Robert S. Strauss
Appointment: Aug 2, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 24, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 19, 1992
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Continued to serve as Ambassador to the Russian Federation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
 
Note: The United States recognized the Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations with it on Jan 3, 1992.
 
Thomas R. Pickering
Appointment: May 12, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 1, 1996
 
Note: The following officers served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim: Richard M. Miles (Nov 1996-May 1997), and John F. Tefft (May 1997-Jan 1998).
 
James Franklin Collins
Appointment: Aug 1, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1998
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge Jul 10, 2001
 
Alexander P. Vershbow
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 17, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 22, 2005
 
William J. Burns
Appointment: Aug 2, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
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Russia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kislyak, Sergey

Sergey I. Kislyak became ambassador of Russia to the United States on September 16, 2008. Kislyak graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1973 and from the USSR Academy of Foreign Trade in 1977.

He served as second secretary at the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (1981-85); first secretary and counselor at the Russian Embassy in Washington (1985-89); deputy director of the Department of International Organizations (1989-91); deputy director of the Department of International Scientific and Technical Cooperation (1991-93) and then director (1993-95); and director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament (1995-98).
 
Kislyak served as ambassador to Belgium and simultaneously as Russia’s permanent representative to NATO in Brussels (1998-2003), and later as Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs (2003-2008).

He speaks Russian, English and French.
 

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Russia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Doria Horvath 6 years ago
PLEASE! Help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the porcess of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance. I am writing on behalf of two very good friends of mine that have so desperately wanted children, they have gone through so much already. Please don't let this negative episode affect them bringing home their children that they have already seen and have fallen...
Laura Jacobs 6 years ago
Dear Mr. Beryle, On behalf of the many loving and responsible soon-to-be-parents of Russian children hoping to find a safe and secure home, please negotiate for the continuation of the adoption programs that have successfully placed so many children in the past. Thank for your consideration of these families and their special children. Respectfully, Laura Jacobs
Janine Burrows 6 years ago
There are so many good families giving homes to Russian orphans. Do not let one incident stop the love given to these children who so desperately need a family! Help American families continue to adopt Russian children. KEEP ADOPTIONS OPEN!
Christine Waters 6 years ago
PLEASE help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open! Soon-to-be parents of these innocent children are very anxious about the situation. For all the years that adoption has been open between the US and Russia, to have ONE American practice poor judgement should not mean that we punish the American men & women whom have adhered to the legal process of adoption. These children need loving and caring parents and homes here that offer opportunity that these children would otherwis...
Connie Shaffer 6 years ago
Dear Mr. Beryle , My husband and I are in the process of adopting two toddlers from Russia. We have found the recent incident involving Torry Hansen and the return of her adopted son to Moscow to be inconceivable. We began our adoption journey approximately 1 year ago and are only two months away from bringing our children home. Throughout the process, we have received countless hours of education and training on the risks and expectations involved in international adoption. ...
Roy Shaffer 6 years ago
Dear John Beryle My wife and I are currently scheduled for our second trip to Russia for an adoption. The publicity from the Torry Hansen fiasco has me very concerned that an interuption may occur with our adoption. Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance. Roy Shaffer
David Whitmore 6 years ago
You must negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open. Literally hundreds of families across the US are ready and willing to love their adopted Russian child, even if they are not perfect little angels when they come home. Please do not let a few bad examples of American parenthood and follow through ruin it or even delay the loving beginning of so many wonderful new families. Thank you, Dave
Brittany Whitmore 6 years ago
Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident. My aunt and her family are currently waiting the arrival of their two beautiful babies and would be devastated if they could not bring them home. Thanks for your help in advance.
PAULA 6 years ago
Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance.

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U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Tefft, John
ambassador-image

 

On July 31, 2014, the Senate confirmed the nomination of John Tefft to be the next ambassador to Russia. It is the fourth ambassadorial post for Tefft, a career member of the Foreign Service.

It’s a job Tefft has been preparing for since childhood. His parents, Floyd and Mary Jane Tefft, encouraged their five children to learn a foreign language and sent them to summer school to do so. Tefft chose to learn Russian.

 

He was born in 1949 in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from Edgewood High School in 1967. Tefft moved to Milwaukee to attend college at Marquette, where he earned a B.A. in history in 1971. He also met his wife while at Marquette; he and Mariella Cellitti were married in January 1971. Tefft also joined the Army Reserve that year, serving until 1974.

 

Tefft joined the Foreign Service in 1972. His first overseas assignment, in 1974, was to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem with another early posting in Budapest, Hungary. In the United States, he served as operations officer in the State Department operations center, a special assistant in the Washington office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a political officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs.

 

From 1982 to 1983, Tefft served a fellowship in the office of then-Congressman Howard Wolpe (D-Michigan). Following that, Tefft was a political officer in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, where he helped work on negotiations for the START I nuclear treaty. 

 

Tefft was sent to Rome in 1986 as counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the embassy. He returned to Washington in 1989, first as deputy director of the Office of Soviet Union Affairs/Office of Commonwealth of Independent States and, beginning in 1992, as director of the Office of Northern European Affairs.

 

Tefft’s first assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow came in 1996, when he was deputy chief of mission. From November 1996 to September 1997, he served as chargé d’affaires in the absence of an ambassador.  While he was running the embassy, Tefft and his wife were surprised one morning by a Russian Army deserter, who had broken into the embassy compound, and subsequently the Teffts’ quarters. He was found naked in the shower.

 

In 2000, Tefft won his first ambassadorial post, to Lithuania, where much of his time was spent working on that country’s admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He had returned to Washington to participate in talks between Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and President George W. Bush in September 2001 when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Although most air traffic was halted, Tefft and Adamkus were flown out of the country on a special flight to make their way back to Lithuania.

 

Beginning in 2003, Tefft served a stint as an international affairs advisor at the National War College. The following year, he was named a deputy assistant secretary of state for European Affairs.

 

Tefft was put in charge of another embassy in 2005, this time in Georgia. That country at the time had problems with breakaway republics in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Tefft acted as a mediator in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Tefft while he was in Georgia. Before leaving, he appeared on a Georgian television talk show and sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

 

In 2009, Tefft was moved to another former Soviet republic, this time Ukraine. He tried to facilitate that country’s entrance into NATO, but this time was unsuccessful. He worked to gain the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, where she was being held on what some considered trumped-up charges since 2011. Tymoshenko was eventually freed in 2014.

 

Tefft retired as ambassador, and from the State Department, in 2013. He was named executive director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum, described by Lynnley Browning of Newsweek as “a clubby lobbying group” which considers strategic issues facing the United States, Russia and Europe. However he was called out of retirement less than a year later by President Barack Obama to serve in Moscow. Although Russia signed off on Tefft’s nomination, he’s not popular with the government there. An article in Pravda connected Tefft with the “color revolutions” (rose in Georgia, orange in Ukraine) that opposed Russian influence.

 

Tefft and his wife, who is a nurse and biostatistician, have two daughters, Christine and Cathleen, and one grandchild. He speaks Russian, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian and Lithuanian.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Wisconsin Native And Savvy Diplomat Tefft Picked For Russia Ambassador (by Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Madison Native John Tefft Named New U.S. Ambassador to Russia (by George Hesselberg, Wisconsin State Journal)

Ambassador Tefft Would Upset Russia, and That's the Point (by Lynnley Browning, Newsweek)

An Interview with John Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (The Politic)

State Department Cables (WikiLeaks)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Russia

McFaul, Michael
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A Stanford University professor with no prior diplomatic experience but a great deal of experience studying Russia, Michael Anthony McFaul was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Russia by President Barack Obama in May 2011. However, the Senate did not confirm his nomination until December 17. McFaul has served as President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Russian relations since the beginning of his administration.

 
Born in 1963 in Glasgow, Montana, McFaul earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and Slavic languages and a Master of Arts in Slavic and East European studies from Stanford University in 1986.
 
From 1988 to 1990, he was a research fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University. During 1990-1991, McFaul was a visiting research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a visiting scholar at Moscow State University.
 
He was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a PhD in international relations from Oxford University in 1991.
 
McFaul returned to Stanford in 1992, where he remained until receiving his ambassadorial appointment. He was a research associate at the Center for International Security and Arms Control and co-director of the program on defense conversion in Russia until 1994.
 
In 1995, he joined the Department of Political Science as an assistant professor. That same year he became a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and remained in this capacity until 2003.
 
He was promoted to associate professor in 2002, and beginning in 2003, was named the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and became the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project.
 
In 2005, he was named the director of the Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford. The following year he became deputy director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and served as its acting director in 2007. Also that year he was elevated to professor in the political science department.
 
In addition to his Stanford work, McFaul has held several positions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, including senior associate and director of the Russian Domestic Politics Program.
 
Prior to his nomination to the ambassadorial position, McFaul served on the National Security Council as special assistant to the president on Russian relations. He is only the second non-diplomat to be sent to Moscow in the past 30 years.
 
McFaul’s current research interests include U.S.-Russian relations in the 1990s, Russian electoral trends, post-communist regime change, and American foreign policy.
 
 
He has served on the editorial boards of Current History, Journal of Democracy, Demokratizatsiya, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Post-Soviet Affairs, and The Washington Quarterly. He also has served as a consultant for numerous companies and government agencies.
 
CV (Stanford University)
Profile (Wikipedia)

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Overview

From the end of World War II to almost the end of the 20th century, the relationship between the United States and that of Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, was the most dominant of any two countries in the world. Locked into a Cold War of capitalism versus communism, the US and USSR looked suspiciously upon one another while arming proxies in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and preparing for the ultimate conflict—World War III—involving nuclear weapons. The arms race engulfed security issues not only of the two countries, but the entire world, as the outbreak of nuclear-armed conflict threatened to destroy the entire planet.

 
Fortunately, after more than 40 years of threats and fears, the Cold War ended once the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia arose as the new power as the USSR split up. Washington gladly welcomed Russia’s embrace of democratic elections, as well as economic reforms geared towards building a free market economy. For the decade that followed, the US focused its foreign affairs on other matters, such as the growing threat from Islamic radicals, while Russia dealt with regional concerns, such as Chechnya.
 
However, over the course of the current decade, things have grown chilly again between Washington and Moscow. The Bush administration had plans to deploy a defense against ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe, which caused great alarm in Russia, who had steadfastly opposed the idea. Bush’s support of a system of ballistic missiles followed the expansion of NATO in 1997 to include former Soviet allies such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.  In light of that, the missile defense plan has pushed Moscow into a posture not seen since the 1980s. In late 2008, Russian leaders made clear their plans to bolster the country’s nuclear arsenal, develop their own missile defense, and place their forces on constant alert.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains (Caucasus range) along southern borders. Largest country in Asia in terms of land mass. Bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan to the south, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Poland, Norway, and Finland to the west.

 
Population: 140.7 million
 
Religions: Russian Orthodox 70.0%, Muslim 12.6%, Buddhist 1.4%, Protestant 1.4%, Jewish 0.4%, Roman Catholic 0.4%, Ethnoreligious 0.7%, Hindu 0.5%. In actuality religious participation is quite low, a legacy of Soviet rule.
 
Ethnic Groups: Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other 12.1%.
 
Languages: Russian (official) 81.3%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.2%, Chechen 0.7%, Avar 0.4%, Mari (Eastern, Western) 0.4%, Udmurt 0.4%, Tatar 0.3%, Yaku 0.3%, Erzya 0.3%, Kabardian 0.3%, Karachay-Balkar 0.2%, Buriat 0.2%, Tuvin 0.1%, Adyghe 0.09%, Khakas 0.04%, Aleut, Ainu. There are 101 living languages in Russia.
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History

The modern Russian state was founded in 862. In the 10th century, Christianity became the state religion under Vladimir, who adopted Greek Orthodoxy, and Byzantine culture predominated over Russia’s architectural, musical, and artistic creations.

 
Various invaders assaulted the Kievan state and, Mongols under Batu Khan destroyed the main population centers except for Novgorod and Pskov in the 13th century and prevailed over the region until 1480.
 
In the post-Mongol period, Muscovy gradually became the dominant principality. Ivan III (1462-1505) referred to his empire as “the Third Rome” and considered it heir to the Byzantine tradition. Ivan IV (1530-1584) was the first Russian ruler to call himself tsar. He pushed Russian eastward with his conquests but his later reign was marked by the cruelty that earned him the name Ivan the Terrible. He was succeeded by Boris Godunov, whose reign commenced the so-called “Time of Troubles.” Relative stability was achieved when Michael Romanov established the dynasty that bore his name in 1613.
 
During the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725), modernization and European influences spread in Russia. Peter created Western-style military forces, subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to the tsar, reformed the entire governmental structure, and established the beginnings of a Western-style education system. He moved the capital westward from Moscow to St. Petersburg, a newly-established city on the Baltic. His introduction of European customs generated nationalistic resentments in society and spawned the philosophical rivalry between “Westernizers” and nationalistic “Slavophiles” that remains a key dynamic of current Russian social and political thought.
 
Catherine the Great continued Peter’s expansionist policies and established Russia as a European power. During her reign (1762-96), power was centralized in the monarchy, and administrative reforms concentrated great wealth and privilege in the hands of the Russian nobility. Catherine was also known as an enthusiastic patron of art, literature and education as well as for her correspondence with Voltaire and other Enlightenment figures. Catherine also engaged in a territorial resettlement of Jews into what became known as “The Pale of Settlement,” where great numbers of Jews were concentrated and later subject to vicious attacks known as pogroms.
 
Alexander I (1801-1825) began his reign as a reformer, but after defeating Napoleon’s 1812 attempt to conquer Russia, he became much more conservative and rolled back many of his early reforms. During this era, Russia gained control of Georgia and much of the Caucasus.
 
Throughout the 19th century, the Russian government sought to suppress repeated attempts at reform and attempts at liberation by various national movements, particularly under the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855). Its economy failed to compete with those of Western countries. Russian cities were growing without an industrial base to generate employment, although emancipation of the serfs in 1861 foreshadowed urbanization and rapid industrialization late in the century. At the same time, Russia expanded into the rest of the Caucasus, Central Asia and across Siberia. The port of Vladivostok was opened on the Pacific coast in 1860. The Trans-Siberian Railroad opened vast frontiers to development late in the century. In the 19th century, Russian culture flourished as Russian artists made significant contributions to world literature, visual arts, dance, and music, including Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Repin, and Tchaikovsky.
 
Alexander II (1855-1881), a relatively liberal tsar, emancipated the serfs. His 1881 assassination, however, prompted the reactionary rule of Alexander III (1881-1894). At the turn of the century, imperial decline had become evident. Russia was defeated in the unpopular Russo-Japanese war in 1905. The Russian Revolution of 1905 forced Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a constitution and introduce limited democratic reforms. The government suppressed opposition and manipulated popular anger into anti-Semitic pogroms. Attempts at economic change, such as land reform, were not completed.
 
The ruinous effects of World War I, combined with internal pressures, sparked the February Revolution of 1917  that led Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the throne. A provisional government came to power, headed by Aleksandr Kerenskiy. On November 7, 1917, the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized control and established the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Civil war broke out in 1918 between Lenin's “Red” army and various “White” forces (including those of the United States) and lasted until 1920.Despite foreign interventions and a war with Poland, the Bolsheviks triumphed. After the Red army conquered Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, a new nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was formed in 1922.
 
Among the USSR’s first political figures was Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Party and head of the first Soviet government, who died in 1924. In the late 1920s, Josef Stalin emerged as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) amidst intra-party rivalries. In the 1930s, Stalin oversaw the forced collectivization of tens of millions of its citizens in state agricultural and industrial enterprises. Millions died in the process. Millions more died in political purges, the vast penal and labor system, and in state-created famines. Initially allied to Nazi Germany, which resulted in significant territorial additions on its western border, the USSR was attacked by the Axis on June 22, 1941.
 
Twenty million Soviet citizens died during World War II in the successful effort to defeat Germany, in addition to over two million Soviet Jews who perished in the Holocaust. After the war, the USSR became one of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. In 1949, the USSR developed its own nuclear arsenal.
 
Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, served as Communist Party leader until he was ousted in 1964. Aleksey Kosygin became Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and Leonid Brezhnev was made First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee in 1964. In 1971, Brezhnev rose to become “first among equals” in a collective leadership. Brezhnev died in 1982 and was succeeded by Yuriy Andropov (1982-84) and Konstantin Chernenko (1984-85).
 
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the last General Secretary of the CPSU. Gorbachev introduced policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). But his efforts to reform the Communist system from within failed and Soviet rule ultimately collapsed.
 
Boris Yeltsin was elected the first president of the Russian Federation in 1991. In August, a group of Soviet hardliners attempted to retake control of the country, but the coup failed within days. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus formed the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. Gorbachev resigned as Soviet President on December 25, 1991. Eleven days later, the USSR was formally dissolved.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its successor state, inheriting its permanent seat on the UN Security Council, as well as the bulk of its foreign assets and debt. By the fall of 1993, politics in Russia reached a stalemate between President Yeltsin and the parliament. The parliament had succeeded in blocking, overturning, or ignoring the president’s initiatives on drafting a new constitution, conducting new elections, and making further progress on democratic and economic reforms.
 
In a dramatic speech on September 21, 1993, Yeltsin dissolved the Russian parliament and called for new national elections and a new constitution. The standoff between the executive branch and opponents in the legislature turned violent in October after supporters of the parliament tried to instigate an armed insurrection. Yeltsin ordered the army to respond with force to capture the parliament building and crush the insurrection. In December 1993, voters elected a new parliament and approved a new constitution that had been drafted by the Yeltsin government. Yeltsin remained the dominant political figure, although a broad array of parties, including ultra-nationalists, liberals, agrarians, and communists, had substantial representation in the parliament and competed actively in elections at all levels of government.
 
In late 1994, the Russian security forces launched a brutal operation in the Republic of Chechnya against rebels who were intent on separation from Russia. Along with their opponents, Russian forces committed numerous violations of human rights. The protracted conflict, which received close scrutiny in the Russian media, raised serious human rights and humanitarian concerns abroad as well as within Russia. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to institute a cease-fire, in August 1996 the Russian and Chechen authorities negotiated a settlement that resulted in a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the holding of elections in January 1997. A peace treaty was concluded in May 1997.
 
Following a number of terrorist incidents blamed on Chechen separatists, the Russian government launched a new military campaign into Chechnya. By spring 2000, federal forces claimed control over Chechen territory, but fighting continues as rebel fighters regularly ambush Russian forces in the region. Throughout 2002 and 2003, the ability of Chechen separatists to battle the Russian forces waned but they claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts. In 2005 and 2006, key separatist leaders were killed by Russian forces. The situation stabilized after Ramzan Kadyrov was confirmed as Chechen president, although small-scale fighting continues between rebel forces and local law enforcement.
 
On December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigned, and Vladimir Putin was named Acting President. In March 2000, he won election in his own right as Russia’s second president with 53% of the vote. Putin moved quickly to reassert Moscow’s control over the regions, whose governors had confidently ignored edicts from Boris Yeltsin. He sent his own “plenipotentiary representatives” to ensure that Moscow’s policies were followed in recalcitrant regions and republics. He won enactment of liberal economic reforms that rescued a faltering economy and stopped a spiral of hyperinflation. Putin achieved wide popularity by stabilizing the government, especially in marked contrast to what many Russians saw as the chaos of the latter Yeltsin years. The economy grew both because of rising oil prices and in part because Putin was able to achieve reforms in banking, labor, and private property.
 
Russia’s reputation suffered internationally in late 2004 when it threw its support behind government candidates in Ukraine and the Georgian region of Abkhazia. In both elections, the candidates Moscow had opposed ultimately succeeded despite strong resistance on the part of the existing governments to change. Russia subsequently moved quickly to side with opponents of Kyrgyzstan president Askar Akayev when he was forced from office. Large-scale violence erupted in the Caucasus in October 2005, when militants with ties to the Chechen rebels mounted coordinated attacks in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria.
 
In late 2005 Russia found itself accused of using its state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom, as a punitive instrument of foreign policy. The company insisted that Ukraine pay market rates for natural gas, despite having been given a favorable long-term contract when Russia had unsuccessfully tried to influence the Ukrainian presidential race. When negotiations failed, Gazprom cut off supplies to Ukraine in January 2006, a move that also affected supplies in transit to other European nations, provoking European concerns about the reliability of Russian gas deliveries.
 
The question of Russia’s manipulation of its energy shipments for political purposes became an issue again in late 2006 when Gazprom announced it would double the rate it charged Georgia (to roughly market rates). Gazprom also increased its charges for natural gas to several other formerly Soviet-ruled nations. One such nation, Belarus, usually a strong Russian ally, responded to an increase in the Russian duty on oil exported to it by imposing a transit tax on Russian oil exported through pipelines in Belarus. The move provoked a spat that led Russia to cut off oil for several days before Belarus revoked the tax. In 2009 Gazprom again cutoff supplies to Ukraine, before promising to restore them a couple of weeks later.
 
Tensions with Moldova over the Trans-Dniester region, a disputed territory west of Ukraine, and with Georgia increased in early 2006, and Russia banned the imports of wine and brandy from both nations, supposedly for health reasons. The arrest by Georgia in September 2006 of several Russians on charges of spying provoked a strong retaliatory response from Russia, including the breaking of all transport and postal links.
 
Russia’s strong objections to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia contributed to NATO’s decision to offer those nations eventual membership. However, NATO did not begin the process that would ultimately lead to the admission of those countries. Those objections may also have been behind Russia’s increasingly provocative actions in 2008 with respect to the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In July 2008, the Czech Republic signed an agreement with the United States to base a radar system there. Shortly thereafter Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic declined, which Russia coincidentally attributed to technical problems.
 
Stanislav Markelov, a prominent Russian lawyer who spent the better part of a decade pursuing contentious human rights and social justice cases, was killed in January 2009 in a daylight assassination in central Moscow. Officials said they believed that Markelov was the primary target since he had brought cases against the Russian military, Chechen warlords, and murderous neo-fascists. He also worked closely with Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist and critic of Russia’s Chechnya policies, who was murdered in Moscow in 2006. Another human rights investigator in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered in July 2009.
 
History of Russia (Wikipedia)
Russian History (Jewish Virtual Library)
History of Russia (HistoryWorld.net)
Chronology of Russia (Bucknell University)
Pre-Revolution Russia (AlexanderPalace.org)
History of Russia (Google Books)
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Russia's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Russia

Immigration:

The first Russian foray into (current) US territory was the establishment of a colony on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, in 1784. By 1812 Russians had moved as far south as northern California. However, the contingent of Russian explorers (never numbering more than 500) returned home in 1867 when the Russian government sold Alaska to the US. 
 
The first major immigration wave, occurring from 1880-1914, was composed of 3.2 million people united in their search for economic opportunity. Almost all of these immigrants came from modern-day Ukraine and Belarus, and about half of them were Jews, fleeing the pogroms that sporadically threatened the Jewish community during this period. The tsarist regime had issued a ban on all emigration, except for Poles and Jews, and the communists strengthened these restrictive policies when they came to power in 1917. 
 
The next massive wave came between 1920-1922, when two million “white” (for their fierce opposition to the Bolshevik Reds) aristocrats, clergy, professionals, intellectuals, artists, peasants and soldiers fled in a worldwide diaspora. Most of those who left settled throughout Europe, and only 30,000 ultimately ended up in the United States. 
 
Another 20,000 Russians came to the US in the aftermath of World War II, often after being held as prisoners of war in Germany. Although US-Russian relations remained cold, in 1969 Russia agreed to allow Jews to emigrate. Officially, Russian Jews were only allowed to immigrate to Israel, but 300,000 wound up arriving in the US during this period. Following the liberal policies of Gorbachev’s regime, borders have opened and all Russian citizens are free to emigrate. Russian Jews traditionally settled in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, while non-Jews have formed communities in these cities as well as Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Recently, the sunny states of California, Texas, and Florida have claimed a large share of new immigrants.
 
Political Relations:
The adversarial relationship that marked American-Soviet affairs in the 20th century began before the USSR was even established, thanks to the United States’ decision to intervene militarily in the Russian civil war. In 1918, US military forces joined with other Allied countries to support the “White Army” fighting to restore the Tsarist government to power. The military effort by the US proved fruitless, as the “Red Army” of the Bolsheviks took control of Russia and set about creating the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
 
During the inter-war period between World War I and World War II, US-Soviet relations were relatively calm, owing to Moscow’s focus on implementing socialist policies across the USSR and the US sway towards isolationism. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt committed the US to aiding “our Russian allies” in the fight against Nazism. Thousands of tons of supplies were shipped by sea to the USSR to help strengthen the Red Army and avoid Germany taking over all of Soviet territory.
 
As the end of WWII neared, the leaders of the “Big Three” (US, USSR and England) met at key conferences (Yalta and Potsdam) to discuss war strategy and post-war issues. American concerns over communism were tempered as long as the fight was still against fascism. However, once the war ended, many in Washington wondered how the US should behave towards its Soviet ally once fighting had ceased. When American and Russian soldiers met up in conquered Germany in 1945, some US commanders, such as General George Patton, were ready to continue the fight—only now with Soviet forces occupying Eastern Europe. Patton was joined privately by some US policymakers who debated whether the US could trust the Soviets, who quickly began to fortify control over governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and other European nations.
 
After four years of brutal combat in the Pacific and Europe, the US was in no position to force the issue with Soviet moves in Eastern Europe. Instead, Washington adopted a policy of “containment”—an ideal first proposed by diplomat George Kennan, who called on the US to counter the spread of communism through political, economic and, if necessary, military means. But instead of head-to-head combat, the US chose to put its muscle into proxy wars during the next 40 years, sending supplies, and in some cases American military forces, to Africa, Asia and the Middle East against those nations allied with Moscow. The most dangerous flashpoint came in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Washington and Moscow got caught up in a game of “nuclear brinkmanship” over the placement of Soviet missiles on the island of Cuba. Although the crisis ended without having shots fired, the incident demonstrated just how dangerously close the two “superpowers” would go to in order to thwart the international agendas of either side.
 
As the Cold War evolved, the stakes between the US and USSR escalated to the point where world survival came into question as each side developed an ever-expanding arsenal of nuclear weapons. With each new missile or warhead developed by one side, the other countered with some new weapon or counter-measure, setting in motion an “arms race” that consumed billions of dollars. First, it was long-range bombers during the 1950s armed with nuclear warheads that flew round-the-clock missions in preparation for World War III. Then, it was intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the 1960s and 1970s with multiple warheads that could be launched within minutes from silos buried underground. And finally, space-based plans were researched in the 1980s as part of Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” program (Strategic Defense Initiative) to render the Soviet nuclear threat “impudent and obsolete.” This only galvanized Moscow into financing even newer systems to counteract any missile defense deployed by the US.
 
Although most of the 1980s were marked by intense hostility between the superpowers, the end of the decade proved to be a watershed in US-Soviet relations, if not international relations as a whole. Thanks to breakthroughs in arms control talks, and face-to-face meetings between Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev, a “thaw” began to evolve in the Cold War. Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost also began to hasten important reforms that wound up undermining the strict control of the Communist party, first in the USSR, and later its satellite in Eastern Europe. By the beginning of the 1990s, the USSR had collapsed, bringing an end to an almost 50-year struggle that dominated the foreign affairs of Washington and Moscow.
 
As the Soviet Union gave way to the “return” of Russia, the United States embraced the post-communist order led by Boris Yeltsin. Consequently, the US lent considerable support to helping Russia make the transition from a command economy to one based on free markets. With the end of the Cold War, the US, led by President Bill Clinton, focused its energies on domestic matters instead of geopolitics, now that the international scene was no longer divided between East and West.
 
In fact, by the late 1990s, American and Russian leaders were speaking in terms of joint military cooperation when it came to defending both countries from “rogue” missile attacks. Following White House talks in 1999, President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin spoke at length about the emerging threat of missile attacks from nations like Iran and North Korea, hinting at a growing consensus around efforts to develop anti-missile defense systems. Though no specific proposals were offered by either side, both emerged from the talks speaking of mutual interests in missile defense. Stepashin said both nations should work together toward a “global security system.”
 
With sights set on the end of 2009, Russia and the US are now seeking to draft an arms deal treaty that will mutually reduce their stockpile of nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton noted that differences in positions of the two nations still remain, including Washington’s missile defense shield. As relations warm between Russia and the US, officials from both sides note that they are propelled by the continued advancement of nuclear technology from more erratic countries, including North Korea and Iran.
 
“The ballistic missile threat is not from Russia but from unstable regimes,” said Stepashin. “These threats also affect Russia.”
 
U.S.-Russian Relations: Avoiding a Cold Peace (by John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus)
U.S., Russia To Develop A Joint Missile Defense (by Jonathan Weisman, Baltimore Sun)
 
Foreign Relations Volumes Related to Russia (State Department/University of Illinois):
 
Other Historical Data Related to Russia (State Department):
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Current U.S. Relations with Russia

Relations between the US and Russia have steadily declined during this decade, however there are indications of warming relations. At the outset of the Bush administration, Russia expressed willingness to work with the US on issues related to terrorism and security. But during the president’s second term, a “frost” had begun to develop once again between the two mighty powers. In 2006, President Bush decided to open a new era of civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia. The two governments negotiated an agreement and initialed it just days before President Vladimir Putin went fishing with Bush at the family compound in Kennebunkport, ME.

 
A senior Russian official visited Washington in early 2008 for what some thought would be a signing ceremony, only to have the administration pull back. During the Bush Administration the nuclear pact, once a symbol of closer US-Russia ties, stalled amid a quiet struggle in Washington over whether to trust Moscow.
 
In the waning months of the Bush Administration, an Independent Task Force on US policy toward Russia sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations reported, “Contention is crowding out consensus. The very idea of a ‘strategic partnership’ no longer seems realistic.” The bipartisan task force was chaired by former Senator John Edwards and former Congressman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp.
 
Russia has been extending its military reach with long-distance air and naval operations. Two Russian bombers buzzed the USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean in 2006, prompting US fighter jets to intercept them. American officials reported eight similar incidents off Alaska from July 2005 to March 2006.
 
The prospect that the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia might join NATO so angered Putin that he threatened to target nuclear missiles at Ukraine’s capital of Kiev if the country becomes part of the Western military alliance. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded with unusual force, declaring that the “reprehensible rhetoric that is coming out of Moscow is unacceptable.”
 
Furthermore, American plans to include components of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic have provoked a strong response from Russia. President Putin said that such a move would force Russia to target Europe with its weapons, and he announced that he was suspending Russia’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.
 
Experts say relations between Washington and Moscow hit a low point in 2008, following the August five-day war between Georgia and Russia.
 
A total of 2,652,214 people identified themselves as being of Russian ancestry in the 2000 US census. 
 
In 2006, 351,261 Americans visited Russia. Except for a dip in 2005, tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 235,696 Americans traveled to Russia.
 
Russians visiting the US in 2006 numbered 94,681. The number of tourists has increased gradually since 2002, when 64,228 Russians came to America.
 
A Turning Point in U.S.-Russian Relations? (by Andrew Kuchins, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
A New Century of U.S.-Russia Relations (by Alexander Bessmertnykh, James Collins, Yuri Dubinin, Arthur Hartman, Victor Komplektov, Vladimir Lukin, Jack Matlock Jr., Thomas Pickering, and Yuli Vorontsov, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
U.S.-Russia Relations Chilly Amid Transition (by Peter Baker, Washington Post)
What Has Moscow Done? Rebuilding U.S.-Russian Relations (by Stephen Sestanovich, Foreign Affairs)
Russia-U.S. Nuclear Deal Makes World Safer (editorial, Calgary Herald)
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Where Does the Money Flow

A powerful group of American corporations are pushing for expanded trade opportunities with Russia, through the guise of the Coalition for US-Russia Trade. The organization includes Chevron, BP America, AIG, Boeing, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical Company, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, Ford, GE, General Motors, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, and Procter & Gamble.

 
It is no surprise that the coalition involves some of the world’s largest oil companies. Russia possesses the eighth largest oil reserves in the world, and American imports were led by the purchasing of fuel oil ($5.7 billion), crude oil ($2.5 billion), and other petroleum products ($2.04 billion) from Russia in 2007.
 
Other top imports from Russia include bauxite and aluminum ($1.3 billion), nuclear fuel materials ($935 million), nickel ($805 million), and fertilizers ($662 million).
 
Three US exports to Russia standout from all the rest: Meat ($980 million), civilian aircraft ($718 million), and passenger cars ($703 million). Other leading exports include drilling and oilfield equipment ($426 million), agricultural machinery and equipment ($361 million), generators ($238 million), trucks and buses ($226 million), and excavating machinery ($213 million).
 
Overall, the US is running a trade deficit with Russia, importing $19.3 billion vs. $7.3 billion in exports.
 
The US sold $40.7 million of defense articles and services to Russia in 2007.
 
The US gave $67.2 million in aid to Russia in 2007. The budget allocated the largest share of funds to the Civil Society ($21.9 million), Health ($21.2, including $5.3 million for the Global HIV/AIDS initiative), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($7.1 million), Good Governance ($3.4 million), and Economic Opportunity ($2.9 million). 
 
The 2008 budget estimate increased aid to $78 million, but the 2009 budget request will reduce funding drastically to $56.3 million. In 2009 the budget will distribute the most aid to Civil Society ($15.8 million), Health ($15.8 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($6.6 million), and Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation ($3.5 million).
 
Russia will also receive funds through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) outside of the foreign operations budget.
 
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Controversies

A New Arms Race?

Russian leaders announced in September 2008 that they plan to build new space and missile defense shields and put their armed forces on permanent combat alert. In a sharp escalation of military rhetoric, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a wholesale renovation of Russia’s nuclear deterrence and told military chiefs to draw up plans to reorganize the armed forces by December. He said that Russia must modernize its nuclear defenses within eight years, including the creation of a “system of air and space defense.” The announcement had seemingly put Russia in a new arms race with the United States. This had infuriated the Kremlin because it sought to establish an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe.
 
Recently, however, US President Barack Obama and Medvedev reached a preliminary agreement that may ameliorate earlier fears of a continued arms race. A series of talks between the two powers is aimed at drafting a new accord that will maintain the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will expire in December of this year. The pact seeks to cut Russian and American nuclear arsenals by as much as one third. There has been disagreement concerning missile launcher and bombers, which the US is unwilling to sharply reduce its numbers. But despite their differences, the two nations agree that they can work together to counter threats posed by rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea.
 
U.S. and Russia to Reduce Arsenals (by Michael A. Fletcher and Philip P. Pan, Washington Post)
 
Anti-Missile Pact Draws Russian Ire
Russia has warned the US, Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania that it would be forced to react with military means if the countries go ahead with plans for a missile shield. Moscow officials said placing the anti-missile system near Russia’s borders could weaken its own defenses. It has previously threatened to aim its own missiles at any eventual base in Poland or the Czech Republic. The Pentagon says the shield is designed to counter a threat from the Middle East, not Russia.
 
An agreement reached between the US and the Czech Republic allows a tracking radar base to be set up on Czech territory. Poland, meanwhile, would host 10 interceptor missiles, though Polish officials have been reluctant to agree to the idea. In March 2008, President George W. Bush announced that the United States had agreed to help the Polish military in exchange for the right to install a US missile defense system in the country. The Polish military’s equipment would be upgraded to be able to defend against short and medium-range missile attacks, most likely from Patriot 3 or THAAD missiles. The US missile shield also would protect against long-range missiles.
 
In June 2008, it was reported that US officials were secretly negotiating with Lithuania to convince the Baltic state to host missile interceptors, in the event Poland backs out.
 
President Barack Obama has yet to formally announce whether or not his administration will pursue the missile defense program proposed under the Bush Administration that would put 10 missile interceptors in Poland. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to move his country’s short-range missiles to its borders with NATO allies while the US continued to offer proposals of nuclear arms reduction and missile defense.
 
The US Missile Defense Agency is examining different types of missile defense technology and is exploring various defenses that could be deployed from Europe. US lawmakers are expected to receive the review concerning US programs and operations of ballistic defense by December 2009.
 
BMD in Eastern Europe: Controversy and Resistance (NTI/Monterey’s Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
 
Russian Planes Buzz American Aircraft Carrier
US fighter planes intercepted two Russian bombers, including one that buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific in February 2008. One Russian Tupolev 95 flew directly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. The incident, which never escalated beyond the flyover, came amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over US plans for a missile defense system based in Eastern Europe. Such Russian bomber flights were common during the Cold War, but have been rare since.
 
US Plans for New Base in Romania Angers Russia
In February 2008, Russian president Vladimir Putin reacted angrily to US plans to establish new military bases in Romania and Bulgaria, saying that Russia would respond to military expansion near its borders. The US has said that the moves were designed for diplomatic purposes, but Putin maintained that the American military plans are on a “one-way” basis, and leave his country unprotected.
 
President George W. Bush Visits Latvia, Criticizes Russia
In May 2005, President Bush visited Latvia, despite objections from Russia. During the trip marking the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, Bush said that Russia should treat its Baltic neighbors with respect and not fear the rise of democracies along its borders. Russia has refused to apologize for occupying the Baltic States, insisting that the Latvian government invited Russian troops into their country. The visit, along with Bush’s remarks, drew sharp rebukes from Russian officials.
Bush’s Bitburg? (by Mark Ames, The Nation)             
Russia Rebukes Bush on Remark (by Peter Baker, Washington Post)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that numerous disappearances in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus have raised concerns that federal and local forces continued to engage in unlawful killings. The NGO Memorial reported 75 disappearances—25 in Chechnya, 22 in Ingushetiya, 22 in Dagestan, and six in North Ossetiya—during the first eight months of 2007. In most cases, government forces involved in disappearances acted with impunity.

 
Although prohibited in the constitution, torture is not defined in the law or the criminal code. As a result, the only accusation prosecutors could bring against police suspected of such behavior was that they exceeded their authority or committed a simple assault.
 
There were credible reports that law enforcement personnel engaged in torture, abuse, and violence to coerce confessions from suspects and allegations that the government did not consistently hold officials accountable for such actions. There were reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by federal or local government security forces in connection with the conflict in Chechnya.
 
According to the US State Department “cases of physical abuse by police officers usually occurred within the first few hours or days of arrest. Some of the methods reportedly used were: beatings with fists, batons, or other objects; asphyxiation using gas masks or bags (at times filled with mace); electric shocks; or suspension by body parts (for example, suspending a victim from the wrists, which were tied together behind the back). A Muslim prisoner alleged that an interior ministry officer pulled parts of his beard out and forced vodka down his throat. Allegations of abuse were difficult to substantiate because of limited access to medical professionals. According to the annual report of the country’s human rights ombudsman, the majority of police brutality cases in 2006 were reported in Komi and Mordoviya republics, Krasnoyarsk Kray, Amur, Kirov, Sverdlov, and Tyumen regions. A November 2006 report by Amnesty International documented 114 cases of alleged torture by police to obtain confessions.
 
“In 2006 the human rights ombudsman received approximately 3,000 complaints about abuses in jails and prisons. The ombudsman’s office determined that half merited investigation, but were only able to adequately investigate 123 cases due to obstruction by prison officials.
 
“Reports by refugees, NGOs, and the press suggested a pattern of police beatings, arrests, and extortion directed at persons with dark skin or who appeared to be of Caucasus, Central Asian, African, or Romani ethnicity.
 
“Prison conditions remained extremely harsh and frequently life threatening. Abuse of prisoners by other prisoners continued to be a problem. Violence among inmates, including beatings and rape, was common. There were elaborate inmate-enforced caste systems in which informers, homosexuals, rapists, prison rape victims, child molesters, and others were considered to be “untouchable” and were treated harshly, with little or no protection provided by prison authorities.”
 
There have been some significant prosecutions of corrupt police officers. For example, the US State Department noted “in November 2007, four police officers were found guilty of charges relating to the "werewolves in uniform" case that involved Ministry of Internal Affairs officers using their positions to engage in criminal activity. The four officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from nine to 17 years. In 2006, the group's leader and six other officers were convicted of charges that included extortion, bribery, and trafficking in drugs and weapons.
 
“Human rights organizations and activists have identified various individuals as political prisoners: Zara Murtazaliyeva, Valentin Danilov, Igor Sutyagin, Mikhail Khodorkovskiy, Platon Lebedev, and Svetlana Bakhmina. All remained imprisoned at the end of 2008. Murtazaliyeva of Chechnya was convicted in 2005 of preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Moscow in 2004. She was sentenced to nine years in a general regime prison. Murtazaliyeva’s defense lawyers and human rights defenders who monitored her trial maintain that the charges against her were fabricated, and some considered her a political prisoner.”
 
Danilov was serving a 13-year sentence for allegedly transferring classified technology to China. Colleagues and supporters asserted that the information in question was declassified over a decade ago, leading some human rights organizations to consider Danilov’s case to be politically motivated.
 
Based on a report by the US State Department “Sutyagin, a disarmament researcher with the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was convicted in 2004 on espionage-related charges and was serving a 15-year sentence in a maximum security prison for allegedly passing classified information about Russia’s nuclear weapons to a London‑based firm. Sutyagin and human rights groups claimed that he had no access to classified information, and that the government sought a severe sentence to discourage others from sharing sensitive information with other countries. Amnesty International has deemed Sutyagin a political prisoner, and other domestic and international human rights groups raised concerns that the charges were politically motivated and that there were problems in the conduct of the trial and the lengthy sentence.
 
“For the second year in a row, there was a significant increase in the number of killings, usually by unknown assailants, targeting both civilians and officials in Ingushetiya. Human rights organizations report that, in contrast to years when the conflict in Chechnya was more severe and Ingushetiya had relatively few killings, during the year there were more killings, attacks, and abductions in Ingushetiya than in any other republic in the North Caucasus. Ingushetiya authorities, including President Murat Zyazikov, have attempted to minimize the number of abuses and attacks, despite the deployment of several thousand additional Interior Ministry troops to stabilize the republic.
 
“The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, in practice government pressure on the media persisted, resulting in numerous infringements of these rights. The government used direct ownership or ownership by large private companies with links to the government to control or influence the major media outlets, especially television; many media organizations saw their autonomy further weaken.” The government used its controlling ownership in major national television and radio stations, as well as the majority of influential regional ones, to restrict access to information about issues deemed sensitive, including coverage of opposition political parties, particularly during the parliamentary elections campaign.
 
“The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, during the State Duma election, highlighted numerous press freedom abuses, including harassment of media outlets, legislative limitations, lack of equal access, and arbitrary application of rules. Unresolved killings of journalists remained a problem. Mistreatment of journalists by authorities included reported cases of abuse, including physical assault. The government severely restricted coverage by all media of events in Chechnya. There were indications that government pressure led reporters to engage in self‑censorship, particularly on issues critical of the government.
 
“The law provides for freedom of assembly, but local authorities increasingly restricted this right in practice. On May 27, 2007, participants in a Moscow gay rights demonstration were assaulted by counter-demonstrators. Security forces did little to protect the demonstrators and arrested approximately 25 gay rights activists.”
 
Police used excessive force in violently suppressing the demonstrations by political opposition. There were cases of unlawful detentions and harassment, of human rights activists and participants in a number of Marches of Dissenters sponsored throughout the year by the opposition movement Other Russia.
 
Corruption is a widespread problem in Russia and studies have found that it increased in the past year. The World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators reflected that corruption was a severe problem.
 
According to the US State Department report “rape is illegal, and the criminal code makes no special distinctions (such as spousal rape) on the relationship between the rapist and the victim. Between January-October 2008, 5,271 rapes and attempted rapes were reported, a 13.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2007. However, according to NGOs, many women did not report rape or other violence due to social stigma and lack of government support. Rape victims can act as full legal parties to criminal cases brought against alleged assailants and seek compensation as part of a court verdict without initiating a separate civil action.”
 
Members of the medical profession, including at hospitals and elsewhere, assisted women who were assaulted, which sometimes included identifying an assault or rape case. Doctors, however, were reluctant to provide testimony in court.
 
“Spousal or acquaintance rape was not widely perceived as a problem by society or law enforcement. Women were unlikely to report cases of rape by persons they knew. Law enforcement and prosecutors held many of the same notions and reportedly did not encourage reporting or prosecution of such cases. A very small percentage of spousal or partner rape was reported to the court.
 
“Domestic violence remained a major problem. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that during the year approximately 12,000 women were killed by their husbands, boyfriends, or other family members. The ministry also estimated that more than 3,000 men were killed by their wives or girlfriends whom they had beaten. Law enforcement authorities frequently failed to respond to incidents of domestic violence. Amnesty International estimated that approximately 36,000 women were beaten by a husband or partner every day. There were no official statistics on domestic violence, but officials estimate that there were more than 250,000 violent crimes committed against women every year. Because violence is frequently not reported, the real figures are impossible to ascertain.
 
There is no legal definition of domestic violence.
 
Furthermore, the US State Department reported “internal and external trafficking continued to be a substantial problem. The scope of trafficking was difficult to quantify with reliable estimates, but observers believe it remained widespread. The country continued to be a source, destination, and place of transit for human trafficking. However, because of rapid economic growth, there has allegedly been a decrease in the number of citizens trafficked abroad. Women and children were usually trafficked for sexual exploitation, while men were trafficked into the country for construction or agricultural work. There were some cases of forced begging (persons compelled to beg through threats of force and violence), who turned their earnings over to traffickers. According to the International Labor Organization (IOM), women were trafficked to almost 50 countries in North America, Europe, the former Soviet republics, the Middle East, and Asia. Women who were trafficked abroad and returned seldom reported their experiences to police because they feared social stigma and retaliation by traffickers.”
 
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Debate

Should US Pursue Missile Defense in Face of Russian Opposition?

The concept of building a defense against ballistic missiles first arose in the 1950s during the Cold War. As experts researched ways to develop technology that could “shoot down” nuclear-tipped missiles, policymakers began to realize the limits of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system. Not only was the technology behind such a defense questionable, but the mere talk of establishing an ABM alarmed leaders on the other side who set about developing newer, more powerful weapons designed to overcome any advantage gained from installing a missile defense. With these shortcomings in mind, the US and USSR signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1972, which allowed each side to develop and deploy a limited ABM system on their own soil.
 
Ballistic missile defense again became a hot topic in the 1980s, which can be attributed to Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” vision, known officially as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Filled with ambitious notions of space-based lasers and other advanced (but undeveloped) technology, SDI was promoted as the answer to American fears of nuclear annihilation by Soviets missiles. But like the debate in the 1960s, the SDI discussion ran into the same problems: Could it really work, and what would the Soviets do in response? After billions were spent just researching SDI, Reagan’s Star Wars plan was largely scuttled, though not entirely ended.
 
During the 1990s, the Clinton administration continued to pour money into research-and-development of various land-, sea- and space-based systems that could provide a limited defense for the US in the event of an attack by a “rogue” country, such as Iran or North Korea. But the Clinton White House did not aggressively pursue the ballistic missile defense concept, which kept the Russians at ease.
 
But during the Bush administration, the promotion of an ABM plan took a new turn, and location. First, the US pulled out of the 1972 ABM treaty, much to the consternation of the Russians. Furthermore, instead of basing the system on American soil, radars and missile interceptors would be deployed in Eastern Europe, with the promise that the system would be able to shoot down missiles fired by Iran at US allies in Europe, or the US itself. The mere talk of situating a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland (both former Soviet allies) once again caused considerable blowback from officials in Moscow.
 
Supporters of the US missile defense insist the Russians have nothing to worry about. They claim the proposed ABM system would only counter potential nuclear threats from Iran, and that is only prudent for the US to pursue a defense against this hostile and unpredictable adversary. Supporters add that this limited missile defense could not affect Russia’s own strategic nuclear arsenal or limit Russia’s use of its nuclear weapons.
 
Russian leader Vladimir Putin isn’t buying this argument, and Russian officials feel humiliated by such a defense being erected in regions of former Warsaw Pact allies only 115 miles from their territory. The Russians also fear that the missile defense radar planned for the Czech Republic could “look” into Russia, and that the system is only a precursor to a much larger system that could threaten the Russian nuclear deterrent.
 
As a counter offer, Putin offered several alternatives to the US plan. First, he offered the United States use of a Russian-rented radar site in Azerbaijan, bordering Iran. He then offered use of a radar site in southern Russia and offered to work with the United States and European countries on a joint defense system. He has also proposed placing the missile defense shield under the authority of the NATO-Russia Council, and setting up joint Russia-NATO early warning centers in Moscow and Brussels.
 
More recently, Russia has begun planning for what some are calling a “new arms race” in response to the US missile defense program, which would include building new long-range missiles that could overcome the American defense, in the event it was used against Russia’s forces. This development has led some arms control experts in the US to call for the Obama administration to back off on the missile defense to avoid a return to the Cold War days of escalating weapons and dangerous posturing between Washington and Moscow.
 
Background
Missile Defense May Cause Downward Spiral in US-Russian Relations (by Ivan Eland, Center on Peace and Liberty)
What Should Obama do about Missile Defense? (by Daniel Fata, Washington Times)
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Past Ambassadors

Ambassadors to Russia have included such noteworthy names as John Quincy Adams (6th President of the United States, 1825-1829), William Pinkney (the nation’s 7th US Attorney General), James Buchanan (15th President, 1857-1861), and George F. Kennan (father of the “containment policy” that helped shape US foreign policy during the Cold War).

 
Francis Dana
Appointment: Dec 19, 1780
Note: Proceeded to post but was not officially received at court; left post Sep 1783.
 
William Short
Appointment: Sep 8, 1808
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Did not proceed to post his nomination having been rejected by the Senate while he was en route.
 
John Qunicy Adams
Appointment: Jun 27, 1809
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 5, 1809
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 28, 1814
Note: Nomination of Mar 6, 1809 rejected by the Senate; nomination of Jun 26, 1809 confirmed.
 
James A. Bayard
Appointment: Feb 28, 1815
Note: Did not proceed to post.
 
William Pinkney
Appointment: Mar 7, 1816
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 1817
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Feb 14, 1818
 
George Washington Campbell
Appointment: Apr 16, 1818
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 7, 1819
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 8, 1820
 
Henry Middleton
State of Residency: South Carolina
Title: Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
Appointment: Apr 6, 1820
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 17, 1821
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Aug 3, 1830
 
John Randolph
Appointment: May 26, 1830
Note: Proceeded to post but did not present credentials; left post Sep 19, 1830.
 
James Buchanan
Appointment: Jan 4, 1832
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1832
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Aug 5, 1833
 
Mahlon Dickerson
Appointment: May 28, 1834
Note: Declined appointment.
 
William Wilkins
Appointment: Jun 30, 1834
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1834
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 24, 1835
 
John Randolph Clay
Appointment: Jun 29, 1836
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1836
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 5, 1837
 
George M. Dallas
Appointment: Mar 7, 1837
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 6, 1837
Termination of Mission: Left Russia, Jul 29, 1839
 
Churchill C. Cambreleng
Appointment: [May 25, 1840]
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 21, 1840
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 13, 1841
Note: Commissioned not of record; letter of credence issued on May 25, 1840.
 
Charles S. Todd
Appointment: Aug 27, 1841
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 28, 1841
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 27, 1846
 
Ralph I. Ingersoll
Appointment: Aug 8, 1846
Presentation of Credentials: May 30, 1847
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 1, 1848
 
Arthur P. Bagby
Appointment: Jun 15, 1848
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1849
Termination of Mission: Transmitted recall by note soon after May 14, 1849
 
Neill S. Brown
Appointment: May 2, 1850
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 13, 1850
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 23, 1853
 
Thomas H. Seymour
Appointment: May 24, 1853
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 2, 1854
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 17, 1858
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 6, 1853.
 
Francis W. Pickens
Appointment: Jan 11, 1858
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 18, 1858
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Sep 9, 1860
 
John Appleton
Appointment: Jun 8, 1860
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1860
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 8, 1861
 
Cassius M. Clay
Appointment: Mar 28, 1861
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 14, 1861
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 25, 1862
 
Simon Cameron
Appointment: Jan 17, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 25, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left post on or soon after Sep 18, 1862
 
Cassius M. Clay
Appointment: Mar 11, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: May 7, 1863
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 1, 1869
 
John L. Dawson
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Henry A. Smythe
Note: Not commissioned; nomination tabled by the Senate.
 
Andrew G. Curtin
Appointment: Apr 16, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 28, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall on or shortly before Jul 1, 1872
 
James L. Orr
Appointment: Dec 12, 1872
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 18, 1873
Termination of Mission: Died at post May 6, 1873
 
Marshall Jewell
Appointment: May 29, 1873
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1873
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 19, 1874
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 10, 1873.
 
George H. Boker
Appointment: Jan 13, 1875
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 24, 1875
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jan 14, 1878
 
Edwin W. Stoughton
Appointment: Oct 30, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1878
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 2, 1879
 
John W. Foster
Appointment: Jan 26, 1880
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 11, 1880
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Aug 1, 1881
 
William H. Hunt
Appointment: Apr 12, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 23, 1882
Termination of Mission: Died at post Feb 27, 1884
 
Aaron H. Sargent
Note: Not commissioned although nomination was confirmed by the Senate.
 
Alphonso Taft
Appointment: Jul 4, 1884
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 3, 1884
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jul 31, 1885
 
Alexander R. Lawton
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.
 
George V.N. Lothrop
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1885
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Aug 1, 1888
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886.
 
Lambert Tree
Appointment: Sep 25, 1888
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 2, 1889
 
Allen Thorndike Rice
Appointment: Mar 30, 1889
Note: Took oath of office, but died in the United States before proceeding to post.
 
Charles Emory Smith
Appointment: Feb 14, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1890
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 17, 1892
 
Andrew D. White
Appointment: Jul 22, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1892
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Oct 1, 1894
 
Clifton R. Breckinridge
Appointment: Jul 20, 1894
Presentation of Credentials: [Nov 1, 1894]
Termination of Mission: Probably presented recall about Dec 10, 1897
Note: Officially recognized on Nov 1, 1894.
 
Ethan A. Hitchcock
Appointment: Aug 16, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 16, 1897
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 28, 1899
 
Charlemagne Tower
Appointment: Jan 12, 1899
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 19, 1899
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Nov 19, 1902
 
Robert S. McCormick
Appointment: Sep 26, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 1903
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Mar 27, 1905
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 8, 1902.
 
George V.L. Meyer
Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 12, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jan 26, 1907
 
John W. Riddle
Appointment: Dec 19, 1906
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 8, 1907
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 8, 1909
 
William Woodville Rockhill
Appointment: May 17, 1909
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 11, 1910
Termination of Mission: Presented recall Jun 17, 1911
 
Curtis Guild
Appointment: Apr 24, 1911
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 17, 1911
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 24, 1913
 
Henry M. Pindell
Appointment: Jan 27, 1914
Note: Declined appointment.
 
George T. Marye
Appointment: Jul 9, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1914
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 29, 1916
 
David R. Francis
Appointment: Mar 6, 1916
Presentation of Credentials: May 5, 1916
Termination of Mission: Normal relations interrupted, Nov 7, 1917; new Government of Russia still unrecognized by the United States when Francis left Russia on Nov 7, 1918
Note: Felix Cole was serving as Charge d'Affaires ad interim when the Embassy in Russia was closed on Sep 14, 1919.
 
William Christian Bullitt
Appointment: Nov 21, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 13, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left Russia, May 16, 1936
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 15, 1934. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Joseph E. Davies
Appointment: Nov 16, 1936
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 25, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 11, 1938
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 23, 1937. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Laurence A. Steinhardt
Appointment: Mar 23, 1939
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1939
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 12, 1941
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
William H. Standley
Appointment: Feb 14, 1942
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 14, 1942
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 19, 1943
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
W. Averell Harriman
Appointment: Oct 7, 1943
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 23, 1943
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 24, 1946
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Walter Bedell Smith
Appointment: Mar 22, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 3, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 25, 1948
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Alan G. Kirk
Appointment: May 21, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 4, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 6, 1951
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
George F. Kennan
Appointment: Mar 14, 1952
Presentation of Credentials: May 14, 1952
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 19, 1952
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Government of the Soviet Union declared Kennan persona non grata on Oct 3, 1952, and he did not return to his post.
 
Charles E. Bohlen
Appointment: Mar 27, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 20, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 18, 1957
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Llewellyn E. Thompson
Appointment: Jun 3, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 16, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 27, 1962
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Foy D. Kohler
Appointment: Aug 20, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 27, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 14, 1966
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Llewellyn E. Thompson
Appointment: Oct 13, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 23, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 14, 1969
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Jacob D. Beam
Appointment: Mar 14, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 18, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 24, 1973
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Note: Adolph Dubs served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim, Jan 1973-Mar 1974.
 
Walter J. Stoessel, Jr.
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 4, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 13, 1976
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Malcolm Toon
Appointment: Nov 24, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 18, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 16, 1979
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jun 8, 1977. Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Thomas J. Watson, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 10, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 29, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post Jan 15, 1981
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Arthur Adair Hartman
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 26, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 20, 1987
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Jack F. Matlock, Jr.
Appointment: Mar 12, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: April 6, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1991
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
 
Robert S. Strauss
Appointment: Aug 2, 1991
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 24, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 19, 1992
Note: Commissioned to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Continued to serve as Ambassador to the Russian Federation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
 
Note: The United States recognized the Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations with it on Jan 3, 1992.
 
Thomas R. Pickering
Appointment: May 12, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 1, 1996
 
Note: The following officers served as Charge d'Affaires ad interim: Richard M. Miles (Nov 1996-May 1997), and John F. Tefft (May 1997-Jan 1998).
 
James Franklin Collins
Appointment: Aug 1, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 26, 1998
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge Jul 10, 2001
 
Alexander P. Vershbow
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 17, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 22, 2005
 
William J. Burns
Appointment: Aug 2, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 8, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
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Russia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kislyak, Sergey

Sergey I. Kislyak became ambassador of Russia to the United States on September 16, 2008. Kislyak graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1973 and from the USSR Academy of Foreign Trade in 1977.

He served as second secretary at the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (1981-85); first secretary and counselor at the Russian Embassy in Washington (1985-89); deputy director of the Department of International Organizations (1989-91); deputy director of the Department of International Scientific and Technical Cooperation (1991-93) and then director (1993-95); and director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament (1995-98).
 
Kislyak served as ambassador to Belgium and simultaneously as Russia’s permanent representative to NATO in Brussels (1998-2003), and later as Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs (2003-2008).

He speaks Russian, English and French.
 

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Russia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Doria Horvath 6 years ago
PLEASE! Help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the porcess of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance. I am writing on behalf of two very good friends of mine that have so desperately wanted children, they have gone through so much already. Please don't let this negative episode affect them bringing home their children that they have already seen and have fallen...
Laura Jacobs 6 years ago
Dear Mr. Beryle, On behalf of the many loving and responsible soon-to-be-parents of Russian children hoping to find a safe and secure home, please negotiate for the continuation of the adoption programs that have successfully placed so many children in the past. Thank for your consideration of these families and their special children. Respectfully, Laura Jacobs
Janine Burrows 6 years ago
There are so many good families giving homes to Russian orphans. Do not let one incident stop the love given to these children who so desperately need a family! Help American families continue to adopt Russian children. KEEP ADOPTIONS OPEN!
Christine Waters 6 years ago
PLEASE help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open! Soon-to-be parents of these innocent children are very anxious about the situation. For all the years that adoption has been open between the US and Russia, to have ONE American practice poor judgement should not mean that we punish the American men & women whom have adhered to the legal process of adoption. These children need loving and caring parents and homes here that offer opportunity that these children would otherwis...
Connie Shaffer 6 years ago
Dear Mr. Beryle , My husband and I are in the process of adopting two toddlers from Russia. We have found the recent incident involving Torry Hansen and the return of her adopted son to Moscow to be inconceivable. We began our adoption journey approximately 1 year ago and are only two months away from bringing our children home. Throughout the process, we have received countless hours of education and training on the risks and expectations involved in international adoption. ...
Roy Shaffer 6 years ago
Dear John Beryle My wife and I are currently scheduled for our second trip to Russia for an adoption. The publicity from the Torry Hansen fiasco has me very concerned that an interuption may occur with our adoption. Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance. Roy Shaffer
David Whitmore 6 years ago
You must negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open. Literally hundreds of families across the US are ready and willing to love their adopted Russian child, even if they are not perfect little angels when they come home. Please do not let a few bad examples of American parenthood and follow through ruin it or even delay the loving beginning of so many wonderful new families. Thank you, Dave
Brittany Whitmore 6 years ago
Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident. My aunt and her family are currently waiting the arrival of their two beautiful babies and would be devastated if they could not bring them home. Thanks for your help in advance.
PAULA 6 years ago
Please help to negotiate to keep Russian adoptions open, there are many families in the process of bringing their children home that are very anxious regarding this recent US incident, thanks for your help in advance.

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U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Tefft, John
ambassador-image

 

On July 31, 2014, the Senate confirmed the nomination of John Tefft to be the next ambassador to Russia. It is the fourth ambassadorial post for Tefft, a career member of the Foreign Service.

It’s a job Tefft has been preparing for since childhood. His parents, Floyd and Mary Jane Tefft, encouraged their five children to learn a foreign language and sent them to summer school to do so. Tefft chose to learn Russian.

 

He was born in 1949 in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from Edgewood High School in 1967. Tefft moved to Milwaukee to attend college at Marquette, where he earned a B.A. in history in 1971. He also met his wife while at Marquette; he and Mariella Cellitti were married in January 1971. Tefft also joined the Army Reserve that year, serving until 1974.

 

Tefft joined the Foreign Service in 1972. His first overseas assignment, in 1974, was to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem with another early posting in Budapest, Hungary. In the United States, he served as operations officer in the State Department operations center, a special assistant in the Washington office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a political officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs.

 

From 1982 to 1983, Tefft served a fellowship in the office of then-Congressman Howard Wolpe (D-Michigan). Following that, Tefft was a political officer in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, where he helped work on negotiations for the START I nuclear treaty. 

 

Tefft was sent to Rome in 1986 as counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the embassy. He returned to Washington in 1989, first as deputy director of the Office of Soviet Union Affairs/Office of Commonwealth of Independent States and, beginning in 1992, as director of the Office of Northern European Affairs.

 

Tefft’s first assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow came in 1996, when he was deputy chief of mission. From November 1996 to September 1997, he served as chargé d’affaires in the absence of an ambassador.  While he was running the embassy, Tefft and his wife were surprised one morning by a Russian Army deserter, who had broken into the embassy compound, and subsequently the Teffts’ quarters. He was found naked in the shower.

 

In 2000, Tefft won his first ambassadorial post, to Lithuania, where much of his time was spent working on that country’s admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He had returned to Washington to participate in talks between Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and President George W. Bush in September 2001 when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Although most air traffic was halted, Tefft and Adamkus were flown out of the country on a special flight to make their way back to Lithuania.

 

Beginning in 2003, Tefft served a stint as an international affairs advisor at the National War College. The following year, he was named a deputy assistant secretary of state for European Affairs.

 

Tefft was put in charge of another embassy in 2005, this time in Georgia. That country at the time had problems with breakaway republics in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Tefft acted as a mediator in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Tefft while he was in Georgia. Before leaving, he appeared on a Georgian television talk show and sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

 

In 2009, Tefft was moved to another former Soviet republic, this time Ukraine. He tried to facilitate that country’s entrance into NATO, but this time was unsuccessful. He worked to gain the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, where she was being held on what some considered trumped-up charges since 2011. Tymoshenko was eventually freed in 2014.

 

Tefft retired as ambassador, and from the State Department, in 2013. He was named executive director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum, described by Lynnley Browning of Newsweek as “a clubby lobbying group” which considers strategic issues facing the United States, Russia and Europe. However he was called out of retirement less than a year later by President Barack Obama to serve in Moscow. Although Russia signed off on Tefft’s nomination, he’s not popular with the government there. An article in Pravda connected Tefft with the “color revolutions” (rose in Georgia, orange in Ukraine) that opposed Russian influence.

 

Tefft and his wife, who is a nurse and biostatistician, have two daughters, Christine and Cathleen, and one grandchild. He speaks Russian, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian and Lithuanian.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Wisconsin Native And Savvy Diplomat Tefft Picked For Russia Ambassador (by Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Madison Native John Tefft Named New U.S. Ambassador to Russia (by George Hesselberg, Wisconsin State Journal)

Ambassador Tefft Would Upset Russia, and That's the Point (by Lynnley Browning, Newsweek)

An Interview with John Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (The Politic)

State Department Cables (WikiLeaks)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Russia

McFaul, Michael
ambassador-image

A Stanford University professor with no prior diplomatic experience but a great deal of experience studying Russia, Michael Anthony McFaul was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Russia by President Barack Obama in May 2011. However, the Senate did not confirm his nomination until December 17. McFaul has served as President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Russian relations since the beginning of his administration.

 
Born in 1963 in Glasgow, Montana, McFaul earned a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and Slavic languages and a Master of Arts in Slavic and East European studies from Stanford University in 1986.
 
From 1988 to 1990, he was a research fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University. During 1990-1991, McFaul was a visiting research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a visiting scholar at Moscow State University.
 
He was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a PhD in international relations from Oxford University in 1991.
 
McFaul returned to Stanford in 1992, where he remained until receiving his ambassadorial appointment. He was a research associate at the Center for International Security and Arms Control and co-director of the program on defense conversion in Russia until 1994.
 
In 1995, he joined the Department of Political Science as an assistant professor. That same year he became a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and remained in this capacity until 2003.
 
He was promoted to associate professor in 2002, and beginning in 2003, was named the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and became the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project.
 
In 2005, he was named the director of the Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford. The following year he became deputy director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and served as its acting director in 2007. Also that year he was elevated to professor in the political science department.
 
In addition to his Stanford work, McFaul has held several positions at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, including senior associate and director of the Russian Domestic Politics Program.
 
Prior to his nomination to the ambassadorial position, McFaul served on the National Security Council as special assistant to the president on Russian relations. He is only the second non-diplomat to be sent to Moscow in the past 30 years.
 
McFaul’s current research interests include U.S.-Russian relations in the 1990s, Russian electoral trends, post-communist regime change, and American foreign policy.
 
 
He has served on the editorial boards of Current History, Journal of Democracy, Demokratizatsiya, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Post-Soviet Affairs, and The Washington Quarterly. He also has served as a consultant for numerous companies and government agencies.
 
CV (Stanford University)
Profile (Wikipedia)

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