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Foreign relations of Russia

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Foreign relations of Russia

The foreign relations of the Russian Federation is the policy of the Russian government by which it guides the interactions with other nations, their citizens and foreign organizations. This article covers the foreign policy of the Russian Federation since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991.



For the Russian Empire to 1917 see Foreign policy of the Russian Empire.

For the Communist Era (1917–1991), see Soviet Union and Soviet Empire.

NATO and the European Union

Russia is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Union of Russia and Belarus, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Paris Club, and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). It signed the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative on 22 June 1994. On 20 May 1997, NATO and Russia signed the NATO–Russia Founding Act, which the parties hoped would provide the basis for an enduring and robust partnership between the Alliance and Russia—one that could make an important contribution to European security architecture in the 21st century, though already at the time of its signing doubts were cast on whether this accord could deliver on these ambitious goals. This agreement was superseded by the NATO–Russia Council that was agreed at the Reykjavik Ministerial and unveiled at the Rome NATO Summit in May 2002. On 24 June 1994, Russia and the European Union (EU) signed a partnership and cooperation agreement. In recent years, tensions have heightened, as NATO members in Eastern Europe, especially Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland, feel threatened by Russia. European Union imposed sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals in 2014, regarding the annexation of Crimea and alleged support for separatists during Donbass War.

Former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact

The non-Russian countries that were once part of the USSR have been termed the 'near abroad' by Russians. More recently, Russian leaders have been referring to all 15 countries collectively as "Post-Soviet Space," while asserting Russian foreign policy interest throughout the region. After the USSR was dissolved by the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Russia tried to regain some sort of influence over the post-Soviet space by creating, on 8 December 1991, a regional organization – the Commonwealth of Independent States. The following years, Russia initiated a set of agreements with the Post-Soviet states which were designed to institutionalize the relations inside the CIS. However, most of these agreements were not fulfilled and the CIS republics began to drift away from Russia, which at that time was attempting to stabilize its broken economy and ties with the West.

One of the major issues which had an influence on the foreign relations of Russia in FSU was the remaining large Russian minority populations in many countries of the near abroad. This issue has been dealt with in various ways by each individual country. They have posed a particular problem in countries where they live close to the Russian border, such as in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, with some of these Russians calling for these areas to be absorbed into Russia. By and large, however, Russians in the near-abroad do not favor active intervention of Russia into the domestic affairs of neighboring countries, even in defense of the interests of ethnic Russians. Moreover, the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) have clearly signaled their desire to be outside any claimed Russian sphere of influence, as is reflected by their joining both the NATO alliance and the European Union in 2004.

Close cultural, ethnic and historical links exist between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The traditional Russian perspective is that they are one ethnic group, with Russians called 'Great Russians', Belarusians 'White Russians' and Ukrainians 'Little Russians'. This manifested itself in lower levels of nationalism in these areas, particularly Belarus and Ukraine, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union. However, few Ukrainians accept a "younger brother" status relative to Russia, and Russia's efforts to insert itself into Ukrainian domestic politics, such as Putin's endorsement of a candidate for the Ukrainian presidency in the last election, are contentious.

Russia maintains its military bases in Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan.

Russia's relationships with Georgia are at their lowest point in modern history due to the Georgian-Russian espionage controversy and due to the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia and has left the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Russia's relations with Ukraine, since 2013, are also at their lowest point in history as a result of the pro-Western Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine, the 2014 Crimean Crisis and the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine, like Georgia, has introduced a bill to the Verkhovna Rada to withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Kiev has begun the process of doing so.

In addition, Russia also maintains relations with Bulgaria, Czech Republic, part of the former East Germany, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, the countries that were once part of the former Warsaw Pact.

Mediation in international conflicts

Russia has played an important role in helping mediate international conflicts and has been particularly actively engaged in trying to promote a peace following the Kosovo conflict. Russia's foreign minister claimed on 25 February 2008 that NATO and the European Union have been considering using force to keep Serbs from leaving Kosovo following the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence.

Russia is a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process and supports UN and multilateral initiatives in the Persian Gulf, Cambodia, Burma, Angola, the former Yugoslavia, and Haiti. Russia is a founding member of the Contact Group and (since the Denver Summit in June 1997) a member of the G8. In November 1998, Russia joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Russia has contributed troops to the NATO-led stabilization force in Bosnia and has affirmed its respect for international law and OSCE principles. Russia has accepted UN and/or OSCE involvement in instances of regional conflict in neighboring countries, including the dispatch of observers to Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Russia supported, on 16 May 2007, the set up of the international tribunal to try the suspects in the murder of the Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri.

Territorial disputes

  • The Kuril Islands dispute concerns the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, and Shikotan and the Khabomai group, all of which had belonged to the Japanese Empire until the Soviet-Japanese War (1945) when the Soviet Union occupied them and the southern part of the Sakhalin island. The Russian SFSR, then part of the USSR, got them at the end of the Second World War during the 1945 Yalta Conference, when the Allies agreed to the cession of the islands to the USSR. However, this stipulation was not included in the treaty of Capitulation of Japan which later gave Japan a chance to demand the return of the "controversial northern territories". However, the disputed territory is currently administered by the Russian Federation, and majority of the inhabitants of the disputed territory are supportive of Russian administration, because all the Japanese inhabitants were expelled from the islands in 1946.
  • The dispute between Russia and Latvia regarding the Pytalovo (Abrene) area of Pskov Oblast, Russia, was settled in the March 27 1997 bordet treaty.
  • Disputes over the boundary with the People's Republic of China were finally resolved on 21 July 2008. On that day the Foreign Ministers of the two countries signed an agreement in Beijing. Under the agreement, Russia ceded approximately 174 km² of territory to China. The territory transferred comprised Tarabarov Island and approximately half of Bolshoy Ussuriysky Island. The area transferred was largely uninhabited. The settlement of their border dispute followed over 40 years of negotiations. The final settlement was the result of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation which was concluded on 2 June 2005 and signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. This followed talks in Vladivostok. There is now no border dispute between Russia and China along their 4300 km border.
  • Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among all littoral states. Issues between Russia and the states bordering it – Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – were settled in 2003. Russia has no common land or Caspian-sea border with Turkmenistan and Iran, which do not agree with the Caspian Sea settlements.
  • Territorial issues between Estonia and Russia regarding some territories of Pskov and Leningrad Oblast of Russia are still unresolved. The 2005 treaty on Estonia–Russia border was not ratified by the Russian side. Negotiations were reopened in 2012 and the Treaty was signed in February 2014, but ratification is still pending.
  • Russia has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other nation. The Soviet Union signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1960.
  • Disputes over the boundary with Georgia relating to Russia's recognition of Georgian regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, due to the 2008 South Ossetia war and which has led to the severance of all diplomatic relations between them.
  • Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation refused to recognize Ukrainian sovereignty over Sevastopol as well as over the surrounding Crimean Oblast, using the argument that the city was never practically integrated into the Ukrainian SSR because of its military status. This claim was relinquished in the bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty, which confirmed that both the Crimea and Sevastopol belong to Ukraine. A separate treaty established the terms of a long-term lease of land and resources in and around Sevastopol by Russia. In the 2014 Crimean crisis of early 2014 Crimea was annexed by Russia. Since then status of the Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is currently under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the UN members consider Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, while Russia and other UN members, on the other hand, consider Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's federal cities. On 31 March 2014 the State Duma approved the denunciation of the above-mentioned Peace and Friendship Treaty and long-term lease of land in Sevastopol.
  • International membership

    Membership in International Organizations:

    Russia holds a permanent seat, which grants it veto power, on the Security Council of the United Nations (UN). Prior to 1991, the Soviet Union held Russia's UN seat, but, after the breakup of the Soviet Union the Russian government informed the United Nations that Russia will continue the Soviet Union's membership at the United Nations and all other UN organs.

    Russia is an active member of numerous UN system organizations, including:

  • UN General Assembly and Security Council
  • Food and Agriculture Organization
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • Russia also participates in some of the most important UN peacekeeping missions, including:

    Russia also holds memberships in:

    Vladimir Putin's policies

    Vladimir Putin's presidency lasted from January 2000 until May 2008 and again from 2012. In international affairs, Putin made increasingly critical public statements regarding the foreign policy of the United States and other Western countries. In February 2007, at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, he criticised what he called the United States' monopolistic dominance in global relations, and pointed out that the United States displayed an "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations". He said the result of it is that "no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.".

    Putin proposed certain initiatives such as establishing international centres for the enrichment of uranium and prevention of deploying weapons in outer space. In a January 2007 interview Putin said Russia is in favour of a democratic multipolar world and of strengthening the system of international law.

    While Putin is often characterised as an autocrat by the Western media and some politicians, his relationship with former U.S. President George W. Bush, former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, former French President Jacques Chirac, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are reported to be personally friendly. Putin's relationship with Germany's new Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is reported to be "cooler" and "more business-like" than his partnership with Gerhard Schröder, who accepted a job with a Russian-led consortium after vacating office.

    In the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States, he agreed to the establishment of coalition military bases in Central Asia before and during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. Russian nationalists objected to the establishment of any US military presence on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and had expected Putin to keep the US out of the Central Asian republics, or at the very least extract a commitment from Washington to withdraw from these bases as soon as the immediate military necessity had passed.

    During the Iraq disarmament crisis 2002–2003, Putin opposed Washington's move to invade Iraq without the benefit of a United Nations Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force. After the official end of the war was announced, American president George W. Bush asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on Iraq. Putin supported lifting of the sanctions in due course, arguing that the UN commission first be given a chance to complete its work on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    In 2005, Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder negotiated the construction of a major gas pipeline over the Baltic exclusively between Russia and Germany. Schröder also attended Putin's 53rd birthday in Saint Petersburg the same year.

    The Commonwealth of Independent States [ (CIS), seen in Moscow as its traditional sphere of influence, became one of the foreign policy priorities under Putin, as the EU and NATO have grown to encompass much of Central Europe and, more recently, the Baltic states.

    During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, Putin twice visited Ukraine before the election to show his support for Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was widely seen as a pro-Kremlin candidate, and he congratulated him on his anticipated victory before the official election returns had been in. Putin's personal support for Yanukovych was criticized as unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state (See also The Orange revolution). Crises also developed in Russia's relations with Georgia and Moldova, both former Soviet republics accusing Moscow of supporting separatist entities in their territories.

    Russia's relations with the Baltic states also remain tense. In 2007, Russo-Estonian relations deteriorated further as a result of the Bronze Soldier controversy.

    Putin took an active personal part in promoting the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate signed 17 May 2007 that restored relations between the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia after the 80-year schism.

    In his annual address to the Federal Assembly on 26 April 2007, Putin announced plans to declare a moratorium on the observance of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe by Russia until all NATO members ratified it and started observing its provisions, as Russia had been doing on a unilateral basis. Putin argues that as new NATO members have not even signed the treaty so far, an imbalance in the presence of NATO and Russian armed forces in Europe creates a real threat and an unpredictable situation for Russia. NATO members said they would refuse to ratify the treaty until Russia complied with its 1999 commitments made in Istanbul whereby Russia should remove troops and military equipment from Moldova and Georgia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying in response that "Russia has long since fulfilled all its Istanbul obligations relevant to CFE". Russia has suspended its participation in the CFE as of midnight Moscow time on 11 December 2007. On 12 December 2007, the United States officially said it "deeply regretted the Russian Federation's decision to 'suspend' implementation of its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in a written statement, added that "Russia's conventional forces are the largest on the European continent, and its unilateral action damages this successful arms control regime." NATO's primary concern arising from Russia's suspension is that Moscow could now accelerate its military presence in the Northern Caucasus.

    The months following Putin's Munich speech were marked by tension and a surge in rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. So, Vladimir Putin said at the anniversary of the Victory Day, "these threats are not becoming fewer but are only transforming and changing their appearance. These new threats, just as under the Third Reich, show the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world." This was interpreted by some Russian and Western commentators as comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany. On the eve of the 33rd Summit of the G8 in Heiligendamm, American journalist Anne Applebaum, who is married to a Polish politician, wrote that "Whether by waging cyberwarfare on Estonia, threatening the gas supplies of Lithuania, or boycotting Georgian wine and Polish meat, he [Putin] has, over the past few years, made it clear that he intends to reassert Russian influence in the former communist states of Europe, whether those states want Russian influence or not. At the same time, he has also made it clear that he no longer sees Western nations as mere benign trading partners, but rather as Cold War-style threats."

    British historian Max Hastings described Putin as "Stalin's spiritual heir" in his article "Will we have to fight Russia in this Century?". British academic Norman Stone in his article "No wonder they like Putin" compared Putin to General Charles de Gaulle. Adi Ignatius argues that "Putin... is not a Stalin. There are no mass purges in Russia today, no broad climate of terror. But Putin is reconstituting a strong state, and anyone who stands in his way will pay for it". In the same article, Hastings continues that although "a return to the direct military confrontation of the Cold War is unlikely", "the notion of Western friendship with Russia is a dead letter" Both Russian and American officials always denied the idea of a new Cold War. So, the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yet on the Munich Conference: "We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia.... One Cold War was quite enough." Vladimir Putin said prior to 33rd G8 Summit, on 4 June 2007: "we do not want confrontation; we want to engage in dialogue. However, we want a dialogue that acknowledges the equality of both parties’ interests."

    Putin publicly opposed to a U.S. missile shield in Europe, presented President George W. Bush with a counterproposal on 7 June 2007 of sharing the use of the Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan rather than building a new system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin expressed readiness to modernize the Gabala radar station, which has been in operation since 1986. Putin proposed it would not be necessary to place interceptor missiles in Poland then, but interceptors could be placed in NATO member Turkey or Iraq. Putin suggested also equal involvement of interested European countries in the project.

    In a 4 June 2007, interview to journalists of G8 countries, when answering the question of whether Russian nuclear forces may be focused on European targets in case "the United States continues building a strategic shield in Poland and the Czech Republic", Putin admitted that "if part of the United States’ nuclear capability is situated in Europe and that our military experts consider that they represent a potential threat then we will have to take appropriate retaliatory steps. What steps? Of course we must have new targets in Europe."

    The end of 2006 brought strained relations between Russia and Britain in the wake of the death of a former FSB officer in London by poisoning. On 20 July 2007 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown expelled "four Russian envoys over Putin's refusal to extradite ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, wanted in the UK for the murder of fellow former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London." The Russian constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian nationals to third countries. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that "this situation is not unique, and other countries have amended their constitutions, for example to give effect to the European Arrest Warrant".

    Miliband's statement was widely publicized by Russian media as a British proposal to change the Russian constitution. According to VCIOM, 62% of Russians are against changing the Constitution in this respect. The British Ambassador in Moscow Tony Brenton said that the UK is not asking Russia to break its Constitution, but rather interpret it in such a way that would make Lugovoi's extradition possible. Putin, in response, advised British officials to "fix their heads" rather than propose changing the Russian constitution and said that the British proposals were "a relic of a colonial-era mindset".

    When Litvinenko was dying from radiation poisoning, he allegedly accused Putin of directing the assassination in a statement which was released shortly after his death by his friend Alex Goldfarb. Critics have doubted that Litvinenko is the true author of the released statement. When asked about the Litvinenko accusations, Putin said that a statement released posthumously of its author "naturally deserves no comment".

    The expulsions were seen as "the biggest rift since the countries expelled each other's diplomats in 1996 after a spying dispute." In response to the situation, Putin stated "I think we will overcome this mini-crisis. Russian-British relations will develop normally. On both the Russian side and the British side, we are interested in the development of those relations." Despite this, British Ambassador Tony Brenton was told by the Russian Foreign Ministry that UK diplomats would be given 10 days before they were expelled in response. The Russian government also announced that it would suspend issuing visas to UK officials and froze cooperation on counterterrorism in response to Britain suspending contacts with their Federal Security Service.

    Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs warned that British investors in Russia will "face greater scrutiny from tax and regulatory authorities. [And] They could also lose out in government tenders". Some see the crisis as originating with Britain's decision to grant Putin's former patron, Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, political asylum in 2003. Earlier in 2007, Berezovsky had called for the overthrow of Putin.

    On 10 December 2007, Russia ordered the British Council to halt work at its regional offices in what was seen as the latest round of a dispute over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko; Britain said Russia's move was illegal.

    Following the Peace Mission 2007 military exercises jointly conducted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states, Putin announced on 17 August 2007 the resumption on a permanent basis of long-distance patrol flights of Russia's strategic bombers that were suspended in 1992. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was quoted as saying in response that "if Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision." The announcement made during the SCO summit in the light of joint Russian-Chinese military exercises, first-ever in history to be held on Russian territory, makes some believe that Putin is inclined to set up an anti-NATO bloc or the Asian version of OPEC. When presented with the suggestion that "Western observers are already likening the SCO to a military organisation that would stand in opposition to NATO", Putin answered that "this kind of comparison is inappropriate in both form and substance". Russian Chief of the General Staff Yury Baluyevsky was quoted as saying that "there should be no talk of creating a military or political alliance or union of any kind, because this would contradict the founding principles of SCO".

    The resumption of long-distance flights of Russia's strategic bombers was followed by the announcement by Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov during his meeting with Putin on 5 December 2007, that 11 ships, including the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, would take part in the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times. The sortie was to be backed up by 47 aircraft, including strategic bombers. According to Serdyukov, this is an effort to resume regular Russian naval patrols on the world's oceans, the view that is also supported by Russian media. The military analyst from Novaya Gazeta Pavel Felgenhauer believes that the accident-prone Kuznetsov is scarcely seaworthy and is more of a menace to her crew than any putative enemy.

    In September 2007, Putin visited Indonesia and in doing so became the first Russian leader to visit the country in more than 50 years. In the same month, Putin also attended the APEC meeting held in Sydney, Australia where he met with Australian Prime Minister John Howard and signed a uranium trade deal. This was the first visit of a Russian president to Australia.

    On 16 October 2007 Putin visited Tehran, Iran to participate in the Second Caspian Summit, where he met with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Other participants were leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. This is the first visit of a leader from the Kremlin to Iran since Joseph Stalin's participation in the Tehran Conference in 1943. At a press conference after the summit Putin said that "all our (Caspian) states have the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programmes without any restrictions". During the summit it was also agreed that its participants, under no circumstances, would let any third-party state use their territory as a base for aggression or military action against any other participant.

    On 26 October 2007, at a press conference following the 20th Russia-EU Summit in Portugal, Putin proposed to create a Russian-European Institute for Freedom and Democracy headquartered either in Brussels or in one of the European capitals, and added that "we are ready to supply funds for financing it, just as Europe covers the costs of projects in Russia". This newly proposed institution is expected to monitor human rights violations in Europe and contribute to development of European democracy.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and ex-U.S. President George W. Bush failed to resolve their differences over U.S. plans for the planned missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic, on their meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on 6 April 2008. Putin made clear that he does not agree with the decision to establish sites in the Eastern European countries, but said they had agreed a "strategic framework" to guide future U.S.-Russian relations, in which Russia and the U.S. said they recognized that the era in which each had considered the other to be a "strategic threat or enemy" was over. Putin expressed cautious optimism that the two sides could find a way to cooperate over missile defense and described his eight-year relationship as Russian president with Bush as "mostly positive". The summit was the final meeting between Bush and Putin as presidents and follows both leaders' attendance at last the NATO summit in Romania 2 April 2008 – 4 April 2008. That summit also highlighted differences between Washington and Moscow over U.S.-backed proposals to extend the military alliance to include the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia. Russia opposes the proposed expansion, fearing it will reduce its own influence over its neighbours. Fareed Zakaria suggests that the 2008 South Ossetia War turned out to be a diplomatic disaster for Russia. He suggests that it was a major strategic blunder, turning neighboring nations such as Ukraine to embrace the United States and other Western nations more. George Friedman, founder and CEO of private intelligence agency Stratfor, takes an opposite view, arguing that both the war and Russian foreign policy have been successful in expanding Russia's influence.

    In July 2012 Putin said in address during a meeting with Russian ambassadors in Moscow:

    "Russia’s foreign policy has always been and will remain self-sufficient and independent… it is consistent, successive and represents the unique role of our country in world affairs and civilization development which has formed over centuries. It has nothing to do with isolationism or confrontation, and provides for integration into global processes...We will continue strongly defending the United Nations Charter as a basis of the modern world order, and we will continue to push for everyone to proceed from the fact that only the United Nations Security Council has the right to make decisions in cases requiring the use of force"

    Current issues

    The mid-2010s marked a dramatic downturn in Russian relations with the west, with some even considering it the start of a new Cold War. The United States and Russia back opposing sides in the Syrian Civil War, and Washington regarded Moscow as obstructionist regarding its support for the Bashar al-Assad government. In 2013, for the first time since 1960, the United States cancelled a summit with Russia after the latter granted asylum to Edward Snowden. The greatest increase in tensions, however, came during the Ukraine crisis that began in 2014, which saw the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia. Russia was also accused of inflaming a separatist uprising in the Donbass region, though Moscow denies involvement. The United States responded to these events by putting forth sanctions against Russia, and most European countries followed suit, worrying about Russian interference in the affairs of central and eastern Europe. October 2015 saw Russia, after years of supporting the Syrian government indirectly, directly intervene in the conflict, turning the tide in favor of the Assad regime. Russia's relations with Turkey, already strained over its support for the Assad regime, deteriorated further during this period, especially after the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian jet fighter on 24 November 2015. In 2015, Russia also formed the Eurasian Economic Union with Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

    The Russian government also remains bitter over the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, arguing that western leaders promised that NATO would not expand beyond its 1990s borders.

    For decades, the dispute between Japan and Russia over the ownership of the Kurile Islands has hindered closer cooperation between the two countries.

    Global opinion

    Pew Research Center indicated that (as of 2014) only 5 surveyed countries have a positive view (50% or above) of Russia. The top ten most positive countries are Vietnam (75%),India (67%), China (66%), Greece (61%), Bangladesh (60%), Tanzania (49%), Kenya (49%), Thailand (48%), Philippines (46%), Nicaragua (45%), and Lebanon (45%). While ten surveyed countries have the most negative view (Below 50%) of Russia. With the countries being Spain (7%), Pakistan (11%), Poland (12%), Turkey (16%), Argentina (19%), Germany (19%), United States (19%), Italy (20%), Mexico (21%), and Jordan (22%). Russian's own view of Russia was overwhelmingly positive at 92%.


    Foreign relations of Russia Wikipedia

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