An Introduction to Russia


Russia is a huge country, twice the size of the United States, spanning from the European core to the far east of Siberia. In fact, the Russian Far East has more connections to China than to Europe, and a train journey from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok can take up to a week of continuous travel. Since there are no paved roads across the country, getting from one part to the other can be challenging. Travel within the country can require navigating eight time zones.

In addition, Russia has a centuries-long history of conflict with Europe. Its long-standing geopolitical rivalry with Turkey is another source of conflict. Russia seeks to maintain its strategic position in the Black Sea by undermining the cohesion of NATO, while also trying to prevent its neighbours, Ukraine and Georgia, from joining the alliance.

The Russian Federation was formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. After a constitutional crisis in 1993, it adopted a new constitution and governed as a federal-semi-presidential republic. Since the year 2000, Russia has been ruled by Vladimir Putin. This has resulted in a country that has moved away from democracy and towards authoritarianism. As a result, there are high levels of corruption in Russia.

The Russian economy is facing huge economic pressures due to international sanctions. Isolation from the global financial system will affect Russia’s largest banks, cutting-edge technologies, and access to global markets. In addition, it will sabotage its ability to attract investment and revenue from foreign nations. The United States has already banned the Russian currency SWIFT and has limited the access of Russian banks to the international financial system.

As a result, the Russian government has increasingly been criticized for being authoritarian and human rights violators. The annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the conflict in Ukraine further aggravated the tension between Russia and the West. Some Western countries have even imposed sanctions against Russia to counter this growing tension. The Russian government has also been accused of interference in Western politics and the U.S. presidential election.

While the Russian government has reacted to the sanctions, it has not yet acted to stop the occupying forces. The Russian occupying forces in eastern Ukraine and in southern Ukraine have pushed for referendums to declare these regions part of Russia. In addition, the State Duma has passed a law to ban fake news.

The United States’ goods and services trade with Russia reached $34.9 billion in 2019 and a U.S.-Russia trade deficit of $13.1 billion was recorded in 2019. The U.S. exported goods worth $34.9 billion to Russia in 2019 and had a surplus of $13.2 billion in services. However, there are still many obstacles to a trade agreement between the U.S. and Russia.

The United States government is a key ally in the struggle against the Russian aggression in Ukraine. In response to the Russian aggression, the Western powers have increased aid to the Ukrainian government and punished Russia. For example, the United States provided $1 billion in emergency security assistance to Ukraine and has passed a supplemental law providing several billion dollars in aid to Ukraine. The United States military has been training Ukrainian forces for the last several years and is providing various equipment to Ukraine. These include drones and patrol vessels.