1780-1783 – United States Appoints Representative to Russia: The new Government of the United States of America appointed Francis Dana as Minister to St. Petersburg. Although Dana arrived in August 1781, he left Russia in August 1783 without ever receiving formal recognition from the Russians. Diplomatic ties to Britain prevented the Russia from accepting Dana’s credentials. Nevertheless, while in Russia, Dana worked as a private citizen to build support for the American cause.
1790 – Establishment of Russian Outposts in Russian America: In the late 1700s, the Russians became increasingly interested in the Pacific Northwest of the American continent for fur trapping and trading and established various Russian outposts in the area – including Sitka, which later became New Archangel, the main administrative center of Russian America.
1803 – Acceptance of First U.S. Consul in Russia: In the interest of concluding commercial agreements with Russia, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Levett Harris as the first official representative to Russia. Russia did not reciprocate.
1807 – Offer to Appoint Russian Minister to United States, December 1807: Russian Special Envoy Alopeus informed American Minister-Designate in London, William Pinkney, that Russian Tsar Alexander had agreed to send a Minister to the United States once the United States agreed to reciprocate by sending a representative of similar rank.
July 14, 1809 – U.S. and Russia Appoint First Minister Level Representatives: Charge d’Affaires Andrei Dashkov formally presented his credentials to President Madison. Meanwhile, John Quincy Adams formally presented his credentials to Tsar Alexander in St. Petersburg.
1812 – Establishment of Russian Colony at Fort Ross: As instructed by the major stockholders of the Russian America Company, Ivan Kuskov established a southern base at Fort Ross near Bodega Bay in California, which was, at that time a Spanish territory.
1820-1821 – Arbitration of the Treaty of Ghent, 1820-1821: When the United States and Britain began to disagree over certain provisions of the Treaty of Ghent related to compensation for slaves seized from U.S. territory during the war, the United States suggested that Russia act as a third-party mediator in arbitration.
December 1832 – Russian-American Commercial Treaty: This agreement made no major changes to the status quo, but formalized practices already followed in the growing trade between the two countries. The treaty provided general bilateral trading rights and most-favored-nation treatment.
February 1842 – American Engineer as Consultant for Russian Railroad: Tsar Nicholas appointed George Washington Whistler as consulting engineer for the Moscow-St. Petersburg railroad project. Whistler ultimately oversaw most of the construction until his death seven years later and brought many American managers to Russia to oversee various aspects of the project. This marked the beginning of a long term American involvement with Russian railroad building.
1853 – Organization of American Russian Commercial Company: In the early 1850s, San Francisco entrepreneurs became interested in a commodity readily available in the Russian territory of Alaska — ice. The American Russian Commercial Company set about establishing large ice houses in Sitka and eventually came to dominate American trade with the Russian territories to the north.
1854-1855 – American Humanitarian Efforts in Crimean War: Spurred by reports from Thomas Cottman regarding the terrible conditions on the warfront, American doctors traveled to the front in Russia to treat casualties of war.
1857 – American Construction of Russian Naval Ships: As agreed upon in the early 1850s, American shipbuilders at the New York shipyards commenced with the construction of warships for the Russian Navy. This included the construction of the General-Admiral, the largest ship ever built in the United States. The launch of this vessel in 1859 spurred special celebrations in both the United States and Russia.
February-March 1861 – Russian Emancipation of the Serfs: Just as the United States was about to fight a war motivated in part by the persistence of American slavery, Alexander II issued a manifesto releasing Russian serfs from their servitude. American abolitionists celebrated this turn of events, while Russians watched from afar as the American states descended into armed conflict.
1861-1865 – U.S.-Russian Relations during the American Civil War: Russian Minister Stoekel initially encouraged mediation between President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and representatives of seceded Southern states; however, after Seward refused such negotiations, the Russians assumed an official position that supported the Union while urging reunification. The Russians also supported the suggestion made by Napoleon III of France that called for a peace mediated by the French, British, and Russians. However, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, that freed slaves in Union territory, raised the stakes and made real negotiation between the North and South, or outright British or French endorsement of the Confederacy, unlikely.
March 1867 – U.S. Purchase of Alaska: Secretary of State Seward secured a deal to purchase Alaska from the Russian tsar for $7.2 million. Though the U.S. Congress initially resisted the idea, citing the price as too high, legislators ultimately agreed to the deal as it blocked a large portion of Britain’s Pacific access, made Alaska’s rich mineral resources available to American entrepreneurs, and provided easier access to lucrative Asian trade. Russia had become increasingly frustrated with the expense and difficulty of supplying its businesses in the Pacific territory and was thus also satisfied with the sale.
1871 – Pogrom against Russian Jews: Russian authorities cracked down on Jews in the city of Odessa over Easter week 1871. Eugene Schuyler described the economic discrimination against Russian Jews in a memorandum to the U.S. Department of State. Russian Jews began to consider emigrating.
November 1871-February 1872 – Visit to the United States by Grand Duke Alexis: As part of his world tour, the third son of Tsar Alexander II stopped in the United States. Alexis made public appearances and attended galas at New York, Washington, Annapolis, and Philadelphia before heading west. Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis welcomed him before Alexis set off to the plains of Nebraska for a buffalo hunt with General George Custer and William Cody(Buffalo Bill). A number of Sioux chiefs also met with the Russian dignitary. The Grand Duke enjoyed his trip immensely and returned five years later for another visit with his American friends and acquaintances.
Spring 1872 – General William Tecumseh Sherman Visits Russia: The famous Civil War military leader-accompanied by his aide Colonel Joseph Audenreid and Lieutenant Frederick Grant, son of President Ulysses Grant-stopped in Russia on a European tour. Tsar Alexander II granted them an audience and formally thanked the Americans for the warm reception of Alexis during his recent visit to the United States.
July-August 1878 – Former President Ulysses Grant Visits Russia: Grant’s visit marked the first time a former president had visited Russia. One hundred years would pass before another U.S. President traveled to Russia.
March 13, 1881 – Assassination of Tsar Alexander II: Members of a radical socialist movement, the People’s Will, who protested the shortcomings of progressive social reform in Russia, plotted against, and finally assassinated, the Russian tsar in March 1881. This event launched a conservative, ultranationalist counter movement fiercely loyal to Alexander III, the new tsar, and ushered in a less reform-minded era of Russian history. The American press and government expressed public condolences and support for the new tsar, but a number of liberal-minded Americans expressed concern about the increasing autocratic tendencies of the Russian court.
1886 – Translation of Major Works of Russian Literature: A number of Russian works had been translated for American audiences earlier in the 1800s, but 1886 marked the year when a number of major works became available to the U.S. market. American translators published Russian books that would prove to have immediate and longstanding popularity in the United States. These included Leo Tolstoy’s masterpieces Anna Karenina and War and Peace as well as Fedor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
1891-1893 – Americans Send Aid during Russian Famine: Widespread famine afflicted Russia, particularly the area around Odessa and the Volga and Tambov regions, after a succession of poor harvests. American humanitarian organizations, stepped forward with significant donations.
1890s – Construction of Trans-Siberian Railroad: A treaty with the Chinese in 1886 had given the Russians permission to construct the long-discussed Trans-Siberian railroad through Manchuria to link the heart of Russia to the Pacific coast. After much discussion with American financiers and industrialists, the Russian Government decided to move forward independently with construction, the bulk of which was performed in the 1890s. The completion of this railroad connection resonated with Americans invested in the Asian market and the Pacific Northwest, particularly since Russia gained concessions in China in the late 1890s that gave Russia a Pacific port.
April 1903 – Kishinev Pogrom: Russian and Moldovan citizens of the Bessarabian provincial capital of Kishniev launched a violent attack against the Jewish quarter of the city on Orthodox Easter Sunday destroying much of the neighborhood, killing dozens, and injuring hundreds more. The American Jewish community issued recriminations against the Russian central government that tried to deny the extent of the violence. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt finally agreed to cable his personal protest to the Russian foreign minister.
1904-1905 – Russo-Japanese War: Russia continued to encroach upon Manchuria despite protest from other nations. Japan finally took military action and on February 8-9, 1904 attacked the Russian Far Eastern fleet at Port Arthur.
1914 – Outbreak of World War I: Russia sided immediately with Britain, France, and Serbia against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The United States did not join the war until 1917, but did supply the Russians, and the other Allies, with war materiel. Many Americans also contributed individually to war relief for Russia.
February-March 1917 – Russian Revolution of 1917: War-time shortages and continuing discontent with a monarchy that continued to resist reform led to a series of large strikes and public protests by 1917. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on March 2 leaving Russia in the hands of a moderate Provisional Government that was frequently challenged by the newly formed Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and other more radical revolutionaries.
March 1917 – U.S. Recognition of the Provisional Government: U.S. Ambassador to Russia David R. Francis requested and received permission to recognize the new Russian Government, thereby making the United States the first foreign government to formally recognize the Provisional Government.
October 1917-1933 – The October Bolshevik Revolution: Encouraged by revolutionary leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who had returned to Russia from exile in Germany, the radical Bolshevik workers’ committees of Petrograd voted to stage an insurrection led by industrial workers against the forces of the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government surrendered without a fight, leaving the Bolshevik party of the workers and peasants in power. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, President Woodrow Wilson instructed American diplomats to withhold official and unofficial recognition of the new Bolshevik Government. U.S. Ambassador David Francis remained in Russia until November 1918, but was never replaced. On September 14, 1919, the U.S. Embassy in Russia closed its doors. The United States did not re-establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union until 1933.
November 17, 1933 – U.S. Recognition of the Soviet Union: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, realizing that non-recognition had not stopped communism from taking hold in the Soviet Union and that the United States faced international economic and diplomatic challenges that required Soviet cooperation, invited Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov to Washington in November 1933 for negotiations. On November 17, 1933, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an official agreement establishing formal diplomatic relations.
1934-1938 – Stalin’s Purges and Show Trials: Stalin made further moves to consolidate his power by arresting numerous people, often on unfounded charges. Stalin also staged many sensational, well-publicized trials to show the price of even minor disloyalty. Stalin’s actions resulted in the banishment of many talented Soviet citizens to Siberian prison camps and the execution of hundreds of thousands more. American diplomats expressed horror at this turn of events, but the United States maintained the recently renewed diplomatic relationship with Stalin’s government.
August 1939 – Moltov-Ribbentrop Pact: The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed this non-aggression pact on August 23, 1939, agreeing not to declare war on each other. Following the German invasion of Northern Europe and France in 1940, President Roosevelt encouraged the Department of State to engage in negotiations with the Soviets to improve relations.
June 22, 1941 – German Invasion of Soviet Union: The German military launched “Operation Barbarossa”-a full-scale invasion of the Soviet Union that negated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In response, the United States offered Lend-Lease assistance to the Soviet Union.
December 1941 – The United States Enters World War II: After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan. On December 11, German leader Adolph Hitler honored his treaty agreements with Japan and declared war on the United States. The United States and the Soviet Union thereby became allies in the war.
February 1945 – Yalta Conference: Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met again at Yalta in the Crimea. There they discussed the future of Poland and Eastern Europe as well as the postwar division of Germany.
July-August 1945 – Meeting at Potsdam: President Harry S. Truman, Stalin, and Churchill met to discuss military details of Soviet entry into the war with Japan, the occupation of Germany, and the controversial question of German reparations. The three powers create a Council of Foreign Ministers to work on peace treaties with the European Axis powers.
March 5, 1946 – Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech: During a speech at Fulton, Missouri, visiting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proclaimed that Europe was divided by an “Iron Curtain” as the nations of Eastern Europe fell increasingly under Soviet control.
June 5, 1947 – Marshall’s Offer of Economic Assistance: In a speech given at Harvard University on June 5, Secretary of State George C. Marshall offered U.S. assistance for the postwar economic rehabilitation of all European nations, including those that had adopted Communist governments. The Soviet Union denounced the Marshall Plan, saying it would infringe upon European sovereignty. Western European nations accepted Marshall’s offer while the Eastern European states followed Moscow’s lead.
1948-1949 – Berlin Airlift: In the summer of 1948, the Soviet Union cut off access to the Western sectors of Berlin, situated in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. The Western powers organized a massive airlift to supply West Berlin and organized a counter-blockade of the Soviet zone. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets lifted their blockade.
April 1949 – North Atlantic Treaty Organization: On April 14, twelve Western nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty providing for mutual support in the event of a military attack on any of the parties to the treaty and established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
1950-1953 – Korean War: Following World War II, the United States administered the southern occupation zone in Korea whereas the Soviets administered the northern zone. Plans to unify the two zones never materialized. On June 25, 1950 North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. American-led United Nations forces responded and battled the North Korean and Communist Chinese armies. The Soviet Union supplied North Korea and China. On July 27, 1953 the warring parties concluded an armistice that restored the 38th parallel but failed to unite North and South Korea.
May 1955 – Creation of the Warsaw Pact: In response to NATO actions in the West, including the rearming of West Germany and the expansion of the treaty organization, the Soviet Union concluded a military defensive alliance with Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.
June 1956 – Polish Uprising: Riots against the Communist regime in Poland broke out at Poznan, after workers demonstrated for better social and economic conditions. The revolt led the Polish Communist leadership to allow some reforms. The United States and other nations in the NATO alliance were disappointed that the protests did not lead to greater freedoms, but were wary of sparking an international crisis between the nuclear superpowers.
October-November 1956 – Hungarian Uprising: Anti-Soviet popular uprisings began in Budapest and spread throughout Hungary in the autumn of 1956. On November 2, Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy, who had already promised the Hungarians free elections, denounced the Warsaw Pact and asked for United Nations support. On November 4, Soviet forces moved into Hungary and suppressed the revolt. The United States sponsored UN resolutions condemning the Soviet invasion and called for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops.
1957-1958 – Sputnik and the Space Race: On October 5, 1957 the Soviets beat the United States into space by successfully launching the first man-made earth satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit. A month later, the Soviets sent up another satellite, this time carrying a dog. The United States did not launch its first satellite, Explorer I, until January 31, 1958.
September 1959 – Khrushchev Visit to the United States: Following brief meetings with Eisenhower upon his arrival in Washington on September 15, Khrushchev embarked on a ten-day trip to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, farm communities in Iowa, and Pittsburgh, arranged to acquaint him with the American way of life.
May 1960 – The U-2 Incident: On May 1, Soviets shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance jet flying over Soviet territory. Since June 1956, Eisenhower had approved secret overflights of Soviet territory and gained valuable proof that the Soviets had not gained missile superiority over the Americans.
Summer 1961 – Berlin Crisis: In July, the Soviets threatened to take decisive action on Berlin. Kennedy warned that the United States would not tolerate any changes in Berlin’s status and activated 150,000 reservists and advised the American people of the danger of an attack, possibly even a nuclear attack. Both leaders announced an increase in their defense expenditures. East Germans fled in large numbers to West Germany. On August 13, Khrushchev sealed off East Berlin from the West by erecting the Berlin Wall on Soviet-controlled territory.
October 18-29, 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: After receiving intelligence that the Soviet Union was placing medium range ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy announced a naval quarantine of Cuba to block further Soviet missile deliveries and demanded the removal or dismantling of the missiles already in Cuba. On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to stop work on the Cuban missile sites and to remove the missiles that were already in place. In return, the United States pledged not to follow through on its threat to invade Cuba.
June 1963 – Establishment of the “Hotline:” The United States and the Soviet Union signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva in June 1963 to establish a direct communications link, or “hotline,” between the two governments for use in a crisis
August 1963 – Limited Test Ban Treaty: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty outlawing nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater.
March 1965 – U.S. Troops to Vietnam: President Lyndon B. Johnson committed the first U.S. combat ground troops to Vietnam to aid the South Vietnamese Government in its war against Soviet-assisted North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces.
July 1968 – Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: On July 1, sixty-two nations, including the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, signed this treaty designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and encourage the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
August 1968 – Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia: Soviet, Polish, East German, Bulgarian, and Hungarian troops invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20 and deposed the reformist government of Alexander Dubcek, who had begun a program of economic and political liberalization (the “Prague spring”). The United States co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution condemning the invasion and calling for the prompt withdrawal of Warsaw Pact forces; it also suspended a number of U.S.-Soviet exchange agreements and delayed ratification of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Brezhnev later justified the invasion with the assertion, known as the Brezhnev Doctrine, that when internal or external forces hostile to socialism sought to restore the capitalist order in any socialist state, all other socialist states had the right to intervene.
May 1972 – Moscow Summit: President Richard M. Nixon, the first U.S. President to travel to Moscow, met with Brezhnev May 22-30. The leaders signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) Interim Agreement, both of which had been in negotiation in Helsinki and Vienna for many months. Nixon and Brezhnev also concluded agreements on public health, environmental cooperation, incidents at sea, exchanges in science, technology, education and culture, and a Declaration of Basic Principles of Mutual Relations.
June 1973 – Brezhnev-Nixon Meeting in the United States: Brezhnev’s visit to the United States resulted in 47 hours of meetings with Nixon at Washington, Camp David, and San Clemente from June 18-24. The two leaders signed nine accords, including an Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War and an Agreement on Basic Principles of Negotiations on the Further Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Other agreements signed at the summit dealt with scientific cooperation, agriculture, trade, and other bilateral issues. The joint communique expressed “deep satisfaction” with the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Vietnam, which had been signed the preceding January.
October 1973 – Force Reduction Meeting in Vienna: The United States, the Soviet Union, and other NATO and Warsaw Pact nations met in Vienna to begin Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) negotiations to reduce conventional forces in Europe to equal and lower levels.
June-July 1974 – Moscow Summit: The Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s imminent resignation overshadowed the meeting and limited expectations on both sides. Nixon and Brezhnev discussed arms control and several international and bilateral issues. They signed a protocol limiting each side to one Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) site apiece, instead of the two allowed in the 1972 ABM Treaty, and a Threshold Test Ban Treaty that limited the size of underground nuclear weapons tests. The United States never ratified the Test Ban Treaty because of concerns about its verifiability. The governments signed several other instruments dealing with scientific cooperation, cultural exchanges, and other bilateral matters. Nixon and Brezhnev also agreed to explore the possibility of a ten-year time period for a SALT treaty, which opened the way for the Vladivostok accord a few months later. The communique affirmed an agreement to hold regular meetings.
November 1974 – Vladivostok Meeting: Discussions between President Gerald R. Ford and Brezhnev on November 23 and 24 focused on strategic arms limitations, as well as on a number of bilateral and international issues.
December 1979 – Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 26. The United States immediately condemned the action, and President Carter asked the Senate to delay consideration of SALT II. Washington’s responses to the invasion included deferral of most cultural and economic exchanges, cancellation of export licenses for high technology items, restriction of Soviet fishing rights in U.S. waters, suspension of grain exports, and an Olympics boycott.
March 1983 – Announcement of Strategic Defense Initiative: In a March 23 national address, President Reagan announced his intention to commit the United States to a research program called the Strategic Defense Initiative to study the feasibility of defensive measures against nuclear missiles. Its stated purpose was to maintain the peace rather than rely solely on the threat of retaliation and the fear of mutual destruction.
September 1983 – Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007: The Soviet Union shot down a commercial airliner on September 1, after it strayed into Soviet airspace. This unfortunate incident featured as part of discussions between U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko at their meetings at the Madrid Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe seven days later.
January 1986 – Televised Greetings: President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev exchanged New Year’s greetings to the peoples of the Soviet Union and the United States in two televised five-minute statements.
March 1986 – Nuclear Test Moratorium Proposed: Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would continue its nuclear test moratorium if the United States also refrained from staging tests. Reagan rejected the moratorium on March 14 and announced a detailed proposal for improving nuclear test verification. The Soviet Union rejected the U.S. proposal.
April 1986 – Chernobyl Disaster: On April 26, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 60 miles north of Kiev, led to the worst nuclear accident in history. U.S. medical personnel provided assistance to the victims.
October 1986 – Reykjavik Summit: President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev met October 11-12 to continue their discussions on the four points outlined at Geneva in November-human rights, regional conflicts, bilateral cooperation, and arms control.
April 1987 – Discovery of Electronic Listening Devices at U.S. Embassy: Reagan administration officials reported that the U. S. Embassy in Moscow had been penetrated by electronic listening devices and would no longer transmit sensitive messages from Embassy facilities.
June-November 1989 – Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe: Shortly after Poland’s electorate voted the Communists out of government in June, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries. By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland’s example and, on November 9, 1989 the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall.
February 1990 – Discussions on the Reunification of Germany: In Ottawa, the four major World War II Allies (the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union), as well as the two Germanys, agreed on a framework for negotiating the unification of Germany.
September-October 1990 – German Reunification: Secretary Baker and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze joined the Foreign Ministers of France, Britain, and the two Germanys to sign the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany.”
December 1990 – Bush Extends Economic Assistance to Soviet Union: President Bush announced that he would waive the Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to the Soviet Union for six months. He also extended $1 billion in agricultural credits in response to food shortages and offered to seek observer status for the Soviet Union with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In June 1991, President Bush extended the waiver of the Jackson-Vanick Amendment for a year.
December 1990 – Gorbachev Wins Nobel Peace Prize: The Nobel Committee awarded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev the Nobel Peace Prize for agreeing to arms control measures, pulling troops out of Eastern Europe, and moving to end the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
August 1991 – Putsch against Gorbachev: Hardline Communists-who had been appointed by Gorbachev as he attempted to build a base of power against the Russian Republic’s new President, Boris Yeltsin-rose against Gorbachev in an attempt to slow the liberalization of the Soviet Union. The coup began on August 19, the day Gorbachev was due to sign a treaty to decentralize the Soviet Union. Gorbachev, with significant assistance from Boris Yeltsin, regained power on August 22. U.S. President Bush continued his support of Gorbachev despite growing popular discontent within the Soviet Union.
December 1991 – Dissolution of Soviet Union: On December 8, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and proclaimed a “Commonwealth of Independent States” (CIS). Eleven former Soviet Republics joined the CIS on December 21. The resignation of President Gorbachev on December 25 formally brought the Soviet Union to an end.
January-February 1992 – Yeltsin’s Visit to the United States: President Yeltsin’s first visit to the United States after the dissolution of the Soviet Union was to attend the first summit meeting of UN Security Council members. President Yeltsin then met with President Bush at Camp David. They agreed to continue strategic arms reductions and to cooperate on arms sales, nonproliferation, and ballistic missile defense. President Bush promised to support Russia’s admission to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. President Yeltsin announced that an emergency program of humanitarian aid to the former Soviet Republics would begin on February 10. They issued a joint declaration proclaiming that “Russia and the United States do not regard each other as potential adversaries.”
February-March 1992 – Formal Diplomatic Relations with Former Soviet Republics: The United States established diplomatic relations with Moldova on February 18 and with Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on February 19. On March 24, it extended diplomatic recognition to Georgia.
June 1992 – Washington Summit: President Yeltsin made a state visit to Washington for the next summit meeting held June 16-17. He and President Bush agreed to continue the START process and set a goal of reducing their countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals by 3,000-3,500 warheads by the year 2003. The United States pledged $4.5 billion as a share of a $24 billion international program to support economic reform in Russia.
December 1993 – Russian Elections: Russia held legislative elections. According to preliminary reports, the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party led with 24.3% of the vote, President Yeltsin’s Russia’s Choice Party received a mere 14.4%, while the Communist Party received 11.2%. Russia’s Central Electoral Commission announced the adoption of a new constitution on December 20. Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced that the United States was rethinking its aid programs to Russia in view of the strong showing of opponents of economic reform.
February 1994 – First Joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission: The first joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission launched on February 3 with Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev onboard the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery.
May 1995 – Joint Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of World War II: President Clinton visited Moscow to commemorate the 50thanniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. He expressed support for Russian democracy and urged an end to the conflict in Chechnya. Both Presidents agreed to seek early ratification of START II, followed by further nuclear arms reductions, and issued a joint statement that would permit the development of theater missile defenses within the limits set by the ABM Treaty. Both Presidents reaffirmed their cooperation in combating terrorism and organized crime.
May 1997 – NATO-Russia Founding Act: Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin met at the Elysee Palace in Paris to sign the NATO-Russia Founding Act. In the Founding Act’s preamble, NATO and Russia stated that they no longer considered each other as adversaries.
November 1998 – Launch of International Space Station: The joint international project to establish a manned space station began with the launch of the Russian-built control module on November 20. In the following months, American space shuttle Discovery transported additional components into space.
July 2000 – Clinton and Putin Meet at G-8 Summit: President Clinton discussed a range of political and security issues with President Putin in a meeting just prior to the beginning of the G-8 Summit at Okinawa, Japan. These issues included the recent Middle East peace initiative, the Iranian nuclear program, Chechnya, Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Belgrade, and the need to establish rule of law in Russia.
November 2000 – First Crew on Manned International Space Station: A Russian Soyuz Rocket delivered the first permanent resident crew to the International Space Station on November 2. One American astronaut, Bill Shepherd, and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, remained in space until March 21.
May 2002 – Creation of the NATO-Russia Council: During the Rome NATO Summit, President Bush, the other NATO heads of state, and President Putin agreed to create a NATO-Russia Council that would focus on specific, well-defined projects, where NATO and Russia shared a common interest. Initial projects included work on nonproliferation, assessing the terrorist threat, defense reform, military cooperation, and civil emergencies.
April 2003 – Roadmap for Middle East Peace: The Roadmap for Peace, developed by the United States, in cooperation with Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations (the Quartet), was presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on April 30. (not a bilateral)
May 2003 – Russian-American Business Dialogue Report: A report by the Russian American Business Dialogue cited progress by the two governments in such areas as the simplification of Russian currency controls, U.S. trade-law recognition of Russia as a market economy, and those positive steps taken in Russian small business tax reform.
July 2006 – Announcement of Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: Presidents Bush and Putin announced a joint initiative to improve the security of nuclear facilities, suppress illicit nuclear trafficking, coordinate response to nuclear terrorist incidents, cooperate on the technical means of combating nuclear terrorism, and to strengthen the prosecution of nuclear terrorists.
March 2007 – Russia opposes U.S. plans to build missile defense shield in Poland: Russia responds by threatening to withdraw from the INF Treaty.
July 2007 – Russia formally notifies NATO member states of its intention to suspend participation in the CFE Treaty at the end of the year, largely in protest of the U.S. missile-defense plans in Eastern Europe.
April 2008 – NATO summit in Bucharest: Putin personally attends to avert granting of Membership Action Plans (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine. Although the plans are ultimately blocked by Germany, the U.S. and many NATO allies agree that Georgia and Ukraine will one day be NATO members. However, no action plan is extended to these countries. NATO members invite Albania and Croatia to join, and agree that expansion should continue.
March 2008 – Dmitry Medvedev is elected president of Russia.
May 2008 – Putin’s presidency ends and he becomes prime minister under Medvedev.
August 2008 – U.S. and Poland agree to 10 two-stage missile interceptors on Polish territory: Russia responds that it will increase its Western border defenses and place short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave.
August 2008 – Russo-Georgian war: Russia claims its citizens and Russian-speaking compatriots were being targeted in South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Georgian forces; Georgia claims Russian peacekeeping troops were targeting Georgian civilians and planning to invade Georgia. Russia and Georgia mobilize and fight a five-day war over the two separatist provinces, ending in a stalemate and internationally negotiated treaty. The U.S. supported Georgia throughout the war and condemned Russia’s actions, although Bush called on President Mikhail Saakashvili to stand down. The U.N. reports after the war that human rights violations were committed on both sides.
April 2009 – The sixth wave of NATO expansion: Albania and Croatia admitted.
July 2009 – “Reset” in relations: After conflict in Georgia, U.S. President Barack Obama calls for the U.S. and Russia to reset relations and renew cooperation to address nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
September 2009 – On Sept. 17, Obama announces the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense in Europe, with stated purpose of countering threat posed by Iranian short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
April 2010 – Putin-Obama Prague summit: The U.S. and Russia sign New START after START treaties expired in December 2009. Treaty cuts deployed strategic warheads by 30 percent, down to 1,550. ICBMs and SLBMs are limited to 700.
June 2010 – The U.S. and Russia cooperate on tightening sanctions on Iran over nuclear program.
June 2010 – The U.S. announces it has arrested 10 Russian spies living in America. Putin is highly critical, though says he doesn’t want this to hamper the reset in relations. The Russian Foreign Ministry says arrests are an “unjustified throwback to the Cold War.”
January 2011 – U.S. and Russia bring into force the 123 Agreement on nuclear cooperation.
October 2011 – Russia vetoes a U.S.-backed U.N. resolution condemning the Assad regime in Syria: Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin claims that Syria needs a gradual and apolitical approach, as opposed to the options the U.S. has proposed. His U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, affirms that a resolution condemning the human rights abuses will not lead to military action in Syria.
Fall 2011 – Massive protests in Moscow after allegations of rigged Duma elections: Putin blames the U.S. and accuses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of personally interfering.
March 2012 – Putin is elected to a third presidential term, which will end in 2018
August 2012 – Russia joins the WTO.
September 2012 – USAID is expelled from Russia.
December 2012 – Congress passes the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on a group of Russian officials.
June/July 2013 – Edward Snowden: U.S. citizen Edward Snowden arrives in Russia, after exposing NSA domestic surveillance program. Russia, which does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S., grants asylum to Snowden.
September 2013 – G20 summit in St. Petersburg: Russian and other world leaders pressure Obama not to intervene militarily in Syria, marking an ongoing rift between the U.S. and Russia over how to deal with Syria’s civil war. Putin gives Obama a plan on Syria, later agreed to by Assad, to remove all of the chemical weapons from the country.
February 2014 – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych flees the country after mass protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square urging him to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, which had started the previous fall.
March 2014 – Following the ouster of Yanukovych, Russia annexes Crimea. The U.S. and EU impose two rounds of sanctions in March-April, targeting primarily Russian individuals and companies involved in the annexation, and they suspend Russia’s membership in the G8.
April 2014 – Fighting begins in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine: The conflict has continued through 2018, despite numerous ceasefires and internationally mediated meetings between Ukraine and Russia.
July 2014 – Sectoral sanctions (third round) are imposed on Russia by the EU and U.S. over Ukraine. Separately, the U.S. accuses Russia of violating the INF Treaty by testing and deploying a new cruise missile system (identified by U.S. sources as SSC-8). The State Department would renew the complaint each subsequent year through 2017. Russia in turn would accuse the U.S. of violating the treaty by deploying an MK41VLS launcher capable of launching cruise missiles as part of the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Romania.
August 2014 – Russia counter-sanctions the U.S. and EU countries, banning imports of agricultural products.
February 2015 – Minsk II Accord signed, laying out principles to end the conflict in Ukraine.
March 2015 – Moscow stops taking part in the Joint Consultative Group on the CFE Treaty, effectively withdrawing from the 1990 arms-control pact.
September 2015 – Russia begins its air campaign in Syria.
November 2015 – Obama and Putin discuss Syria during the G20 summit in Turkey, agree to a U.N. framework for a ceasefire and eventual peaceful transition in Syria.
March 2016 – Russia refuses to attend the final Nuclear Security Summit.
September 2016 – Russia and the U.S. announce joint peace plan for Syria. After meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announce that the two countries have agreed on the provisions of a peace plan for Syria, but implementation of the agreement stalls.
September/October 2016 – Russia suspends the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Disposition Agreement, concerning the management and disposal of plutonium. Terms set forth by Moscow for resuming cooperation include the repeal of and compensation for U.S. sanctions and a rollback of U.S. forces in NATO member states admitted after Sept. 1, 2000. The Russian government then also suspends a 2013 agreement with the U.S. on nuclear energy research and development and terminates another, signed in 2010, on cooperation on the conversion of Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel.
November 2016 – Businessman and TV personality Donald Trump elected U.S. president with an exceptionally pro-Russia stance in his campaign.
December 2016 – U.S. intelligence organizations say they have information confirming that Russian hackers intervened in the U.S. election in an effort to sway it in favor of Donald Trump, the president-elect.
January 2017 – The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases a declassified version of the Intelligence Community’s assessment that “Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election”; that “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency”; and that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
March/May 2017 – After Trump fires FBI director James Comey, his predecessor Robert Mueller is officially appointed special counsel with the purpose of investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and … any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Meanwhile, several congressional committees pursue their own investigations.
July 2017 – G20 summit in Hamburg: Donald Trump holds first face-to-face meeting as president with Putin, in which he asks the Russian leader about election hacking and concludes that it’s “time to move forward” on the issue. The two leaders are able to reach an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, to be monitored by Russian military police in coordination with the U.S. and Jordan. The meeting also yields the announcement of a new U.S. special envoy for Ukraine who would have a special communication channel with a Russian counterpart.
August 2017 – Trump signs a bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress that imposes new sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and alleged election interference. At the same time, Trump calls the bill “seriously flawed” because it limits his ability to negotiate with Moscow. In the period leading up to and following the signing of the sanctions bill, Moscow and Washington exchange in a tit-for-tat with Russia ordering that U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia be cut by 755 employees and the U.S. ordering the closure of Russia’s diplomatic headquarters in San Francisco.
November 2017 – After briefly meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam, Trump says the Russian leader again denied interfering in the U.S. election, and Trump says he believes him. The two leaders also announce agreement on a deconfliction plan in Syria and the broad outlines for a peace process in the war-torn country.
December 2017 – Trump presents his National Security Strategy, which warns that China and Russia “challenge American power, influence and interests” and “are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” In a speech announcing the strategy, Trump refrains from directly criticizing Russia and instead speaks positively of a phone call from Putin a few days earlier in which the Russian president credited the CIA with helping to avert a terror attack in St. Petersburg. Separately, the Trump administration approves the limited sale of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, a move reportedly backed by the secretaries of defense and state, but not welcomed by Moscow.
February 2018 – The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review states that the world has seen “the return of Great Power competition” and puts Russia at the core of U.S. nuclear strategy. The new document gives short shrift to arms control and diplomacy, but calls for two new systems—lower-yield nuclear weapons deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles—to create “credible deterrence against regional aggression.” As part of its rationale the document cites Russia’s recent statements on its nuclear posture and the Kremlin’s reported belief that “limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons,” would give Russia a strategic advantage.
The U.S. and Russia both declare that they have met the Feb. 5 deadline for compliance with the New START treaty, with Moscow and Washington posting their respective numbers of warheads and delivery systems.
Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by creating fake online personas to help Trump’s presidential campaign and hurt Clinton’s.