U.S. Relations With Russia

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Fact Sheet
December 20, 2016

More information about Russia is available on the Russia Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


Russia recognized the United States on October 28, 1803, and diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia were formally established in 1809. Diplomatic relations were interrupted following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. On December 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson instructed all American diplomatic representatives in Russia to refrain from any direct communication with representatives of the Bolshevik Government. Although diplomatic relations were never formally severed, the United States refused to recognize or have any formal relations with the Bolshevik/Soviet governments until 1933. Normal diplomatic relations were resumed on November 16, 1933, when President Franklin Roosevelt informed Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov that the United States recognized the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and wished to re-establish normal diplomatic relations. On December 25, 1991, the United States recognized the Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation. President Bush also announced that the Embassy in Moscow would remain in place as the American Embassy to the Russian Federation. The United States and the Russian Federation established diplomatic relations on December 31, 1991.

The United States has long sought a full and constructive relationship with Russia. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States adopted a bipartisan strategy to facilitate cooperation on global issues and promote foreign investment and trade. The United States supported Russia’s integration into European and global institutions and a deepened bilateral partnership in security cooperation to reinforce the foundations of stability and predictability. In response to the Russian violation in 2014 of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, however, the United States downgraded the bilateral political and military relationship and suspended the Bilateral Presidential Commission, a body jointly founded in 2009 by the United States and Russia to promote cooperation between the two countries. In addition to aggressive acts in Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has also sought to use information operations which appear to be designed to weaken core institutions in the West such as NATO and the EU, and to cast doubt on the integrity of our democratic systems. Russia’s method is not to advance ideas to compete with ours, but to undermine and question all narratives, creating confusion and diverting attention from Moscow’s own actions. The United States has sought to deter further Russian intervention through the projection of strength and unity with U.S. allies, and by building resilience and reducing vulnerability among allies facing Russian pressure and coercion. The United States maintains cooperation with Russia to address pressing global challenges in areas where U.S. core national security interests align, including nonproliferation, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) security, preventing atrocities and humanitarian crises, and combatting violent extremism and terrorism. The long-term goal of the United States is to see Russia become a constructive stakeholder in the global community. The United States seeks to nurture historically strong ties with the Russian people and civil society.

Bilateral Economic Relations

In response to Russia’s ongoing violations of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, the United States has suspended most bilateral engagement with the Russian government on economic issues. The United States continues to investigate allegations of mistreatment of or discrimination against U.S. investors in Russia and to urge Russia to improve its investment climate, adherence to the rule of law, and transparency. In Russia, the U.S. Commercial Service continues to assist U.S. firms interested in developing market opportunities that do not violate sanctions.

In 2014, the United States and our European and G-7 partners imposed sanctions on Russia for its intervention in eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea. Sectoral sanctions have reduced Russia’s ability to access financing in the financial, energy, and defense sectors, as well as limited its access to certain technologies in those sectors.

A combination of low oil prices, structural limitations, and sanctions pushed Russia into a deep recession in 2015, with the economy contracting by four percent. The economy was expected to contract by nearly one percent in 2016 as well. In response, Russia has imposed a number of counter sanctions on U.S. and European goods, most notably in the agricultural sector.

Russia’s Membership in International Organizations

Russia is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It lost a re-election bid to the UN Human Rights Council in a competitive race in 2016. Russia’s participation in the G8 (now G-7) was suspended in March 2014 in response to its attempted annexation of Crimea. For the same reason, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stripped Russia of its voting rights in that body in April 2014. Since then, Russia has opted not to send Duma delegations to PACE sessions even though it was welcomed to continue to participate in debate. Russia remains a member state in the Council of Europe. Russia is a participating State in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and East Asia Summit (EAS), and an observer state to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The country participates in the Quartet on the Middle East and the Six-party Talks with North Korea. Russia also takes part in a number of regional organizations including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Eurasian Economic Community, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Russia is John F. Tefft; other principal Embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Russia maintains an Embassy in the United States at 2650 Wisconsin Ave, Washington, DC 20007, tel. (202) 298-5700.

More information about Russia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Russia Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Russia Page
U.S. Embassy: Moscow
History of U.S. Relations With Russia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information