|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Government||Semi-Presidential Federal republic|
|Language||Russian language (official)|
|Prime minister||Mikhail Mushustin|
|Area||6,592,800 sq mi|
|GDP per capita||$11,301 (2020)|
Russia (formally the Russian Federation, in Russian: Российская Федерация, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is the largest country by area (17,075,200 square kilometers) and shares borders with more countries than any other state in the world giving it unique security concerns. Russia has the ninth largest population spanning from Eastern Europe to Northern Asia. Its capital is Moscow, and it is a federation of constituent governments.
Increasingly Christian and conservative, Russia opposes the homosexual agenda and has passed laws prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality and limiting abortion, and Dem politicians publicly hate Russia for its conservatism. Russia does not impose a Covid vaccine mandate as socialists do in the United States. The most popular hobby for Russians is chess, and it contributes to Russia's embrace of conservatism; Russia has produced many chess champions, and is also known for excellence in wrestling, gymnastics, and ice hockey. Russia has repudiated its unsuccessful foray into communism/atheism, which harmed the nation from 1918-1991, and restored the name of its historic city Leningrad to Saint Petersburg. In 2015, Russia's Ministry of Health signed an agreement with the Russian Orthodox Church to prevent abortion.
Russia's history stretches back over a thousand years, with rule by the Czars until communists took over the nation in 1917, and were subsequently overthrown in 1991. Russia was the largest constituent of the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the nation became known as the Russian Federation. Russia had an extensive empire built up over hundreds of years, almost all of which broke away in 1991.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Demography
- 3 Cities
- 4 Recent politics
- 5 Government and Political Conditions
- 6 Foreign Relations
- 7 Defense
- 8 Economy
- 8.1 Labor force
- 8.2 Russia's low fertility rate, aging population, projected working population and its potential impact on its economy
- 8.3 Public health
- 8.4 GDP
- 8.5 Monetary Policy
- 8.6 Commercial Law
- 8.7 Natural Resources
- 8.8 Industry
- 8.9 Agriculture
- 8.10 Investment/Banking
- 8.11 Trade
- 9 History
- 10 See also
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
- Area: 17 million km2. (6.5 million sq. mi.); about 1.8 times the size of the United States.
- Cities: Capital—Moscow (pop. 8.3 million). Other cities—St. Petersburg (4.6 million), Novosibirsk (1.4 million), Yekaterinburg (1.4 million). 8 other cities over 1 million inhabitants.
- Terrain: Broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains (Caucasus range) along southern borders.
- Climate: Huge variation from humid sub-tropical in Krasnodar krai, to desert/semi-desert in the Altai republic, and arctic tundra in north eastern Siberia, which is one of the coldest areas on the planet.
As a result of attempts at Westernization in the 1990s Russia's fertility rate of 1.58 births per woman is one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. It's fertility rate is below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman. Demographers estimate Russia will fall from being the 9th most populous country in the world to being the 17th by 2050. And estimates indicate that Russia's population will drop from 2014's 142 million to 128 million by 2050.
Despite the image propagated by media and educational institutions about Russia in the West going back to pre-Soviet and Czarist times, Russia is about two centuries ahead of Western Progressivism in learning how to keep a multiplicity of national groups, religions, and language groups living together peacefully in one state without killing each other.
In a major demographic catastrophe, population indicators in Russia dramatically worsened after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its attempts to Westernize : the number of deaths exceeds the number of births, life expectancy is drastically decreasing, the number of suicides has increased, and there are 240 abortions per 100 live births. Every year since 1992 the country has lost 400,000 to 650,000 population and the current total of 142 million is projected to fall to 100 million by 2050.
In the 1990s, life expectancy in Russia fell an astonishing six years. Statistical analysis indicates that one-quarter of the increase in mortality was due to an increase in alcohol consumption and one-quarter was a consequence of stress due to economic uncertainty.
Russia's population of 141.4 million (2007) is falling. Lower birth rates and higher death rates have reduced Russia's population at a nearly 0.5% annual rate since the early 1990s. Russia is one of few countries with a declining population (although birth rates in many developed countries have dropped below the long-term population replacement). Population decline is particularly drastic in Russia due to higher death rates, especially among working-age males. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, traffic injuries, suicide, alcohol poisoning, and violence are major causes of death. In a June 2006 speech to the Russian National Security Council, President Putin declared that Russia is facing a demographic crisis and called for measures to improve birth and mortality rates and increase population through immigration, primarily the return of Russian-speaking foreigners.
Most of the roughly 141 million Russians derive from the Eastern Slavic family of peoples, whose original homeland was probably present-day Poland. Russian is the official language of Russia and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the language of such giants of world literature as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn.
Russia's educational system has produced nearly 100% literacy. About 3 million students attend Russia's 519 institutions of higher education and 48 universities, but continued reform is critical to producing students with skills to adapt to a market economy. Because great emphasis is placed on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and space and aviation research is still generally of a high order. The number of doctors in relation to the population is high by American standards, although medical care in Russia, even in major cities, is generally far below Western standards. The unraveling of the Soviet state in its last decades and the physical and psychological traumas of transition during the 1990s resulted in a steady decline in the health of the Russian people. Currently Russia faces a demographic crisis as births lag far behind deaths. While its population is aging, skyrocketing deaths of working-age males due to cardiovascular disease is a major cause of Russia's demographic woes. A rapid increase in HIV/AIDS infections and tuberculosis compounds the problem. In 2007, life expectancy at birth was 59 for men and 73 for women. The large annual excess of deaths over births is expected to cut Russia's population by 30% over the next 50 years.[Citation Needed]
- Population (2007 est.): 141.4 million.
- Annual growth rate (2007 est.): -0.484% (population declining).
- Ethnic groups: Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, other 14.4%.
- Religion: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhist, other.
- Language: Russian (official); more than 140 other languages and dialects.
- Education (total pop.): Literacy—99.4%.
- Health: Life expectancy (2007 est.)--59.12 yrs. men, 73.03 yrs. women.
- Work force (73.88 million) (2006 est.): Production and economic services—84%; government—16%.
Moscow is Russia's capital and largest city (population 8.3 million). Moscow is also increasingly important as an economic and business center; it has become Russia's principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence. Its cultural tradition is rich, and there are many museums devoted to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science, as well as hundreds of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals.
The second-largest city in Russia is St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), which was established by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 to be the capital of the Russian Empire as part of his Western-looking reforms. The city was called Petrograd during World War I and Leningrad after 1924. In 1991, as the result of a city referendum, it was renamed St. Petersburg. Under the tsars, the city was Russia's cultural, intellectual, commercial, financial, and industrial center. After Lenin moved the capital back to Moscow in 1918, the city's political significance declined, but it remained a cultural, scientific, and military-industrial center. The Hermitage, formerly the Winter Palace of the tsars, is one of the world's great fine arts museums.
Russia has an area of about 17 million square kilometers (6.5 million sq. mi.); in geographic terms, this makes Russia the largest country in the world by more than 2.5 million square miles. But with a population density of about 22 persons per square mile (9 per km2.), it is sparsely populated, and most of its residents live in urban areas.
Western-style homosexuality became a fashionable symbol of Western cultural imperialism and the encroachment of Western values (overt sexuality, nonreproductive sex, and consumerism), and the Western political concepts of tolerance and diversity. For the Yeltsin administration, juridical decriminalization of homosexuality was tool to facilitate Russia's accession to the Council of Europe and in negotiations with other international organizations and foreign governments. Homosexuality was officially decriminalized on May 27, 1993, when the Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russia and the Corrective Labour Code of the Russia was published.
The Science for Truth Information Center published a list of recommendations for legislators and politicians to deal with Russia's declining population and birthrate in April 2021:
|“|| 1. To reconsider the level of cooperation with the UN and WHO and their funding in connection with activities that are contrary to the Constitution, Russian legislation and strategic goals for the sustainable growth of the population of the Russian Federation with an increase in life expectancy to 78 years. We are talking about the UN population policy in general and the promotion of the normality of homosexuality to children in the WHO sex education standards in particular.
2. To toughen the punishment for promoting homosexuality, transsexualism, abortion, childlessness and other types of depopulation behavior in the context of the current demographic crisis. Extend the ban on propaganda of depopulation ideologies to all age categories. 
In May 2022 Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, began discussing the potential withdrawal of the country from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Russia began the process to withdraw from Council of the Baltic Sea States. Previously Russia canceled its membership in the Council of Europe.
Government and Political Conditions
In the political system established by the 1993 constitution, the president wields considerable executive power. There is no vice president, and the legislative branch is far weaker than the executive. The bicameral legislature consists of the lower house (State Duma) and the upper house (the Federation Council). The president nominates the highest state officials, including the prime minister, who must be approved by the Duma. The president can pass decrees without consent from the Duma. He also is head of the armed forces and of the Security Council.
Duma elections were held most recently on December 7, 2003, and presidential elections on March 14, 2004. The pro-government party, United Russia, won close to half of the seats in the Duma. Combined with its allies, United Russia commands a two-thirds majority. Vladimir Putin was re-elected to a second four-year term with 71% of the vote in March 2004. The Russian constitution does not allow presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms. Following elections for the Duma occurred in December 2007, and for President in March 2008. In these election Dmitry Medvedev (member of United Russia) was elected as new president. Since 2012 Vladimir Putin is president again.
Russia is a federation, but the precise distribution of powers between the central government and the regional and local authorities is still evolving. The Russian Federation consists of 89 regional administrative units, including two federal cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The constitution explicitly defines the federal government's exclusive powers, but it also describes most key regional issues as the joint responsibility of the federal government and the regional administrative units. In 2000, President Putin grouped the regions into seven federal districts, with presidential appointees established in Moscow and six provincial capitals. In March 2004, the Constitution was amended to permit the merger of some regional administrative units. A law enacted in December 2004 eliminated the direct election of the country's regional leaders. Governors are now nominated by the president and subject to confirmation by regional legislatures.
The Russian judicial system consists of the Constitutional Court, courts of general jurisdiction, military courts, and arbitrage courts (which hear commercial disputes). The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation is a court of limited subject matter jurisdiction. The 1993 constitution empowers the Constitutional Court to arbitrate disputes between the executive and legislative branches and between Moscow and the regional and local governments. The court also is authorized to rule on violations of constitutional rights, to examine appeals from various bodies, and to participate in impeachment proceedings against the president. The July 1994 Law on the Constitutional Court prohibits the court from examining cases on its own initiative and limits the scope of issues the court can hear. The system of general jurisdiction courts includes the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, regional level courts, district level courts and justices of the peace.
The Duma passed a Criminal Procedure Code and other judicial reforms during its 2001 session. These reforms help make the Russian judicial system more compatible with its Western counterparts and are seen by most as an accomplishment in human rights. The reforms have reintroduced jury trials in certain criminal cases and created a more adversarial system of criminal trials that protect the rights of defendants more adequately. In 2002, the introduction of the new code led to significant reductions in time spent in detention for new detainees, and the number of suspects placed in pretrial detention declined by 30%. Another significant advance in the new Code is the transfer from the Procuracy to the courts of the authority to issue search and arrest warrants. There are rising concerns, however, that prosecutors have selectively targeted individuals for political reasons, as in the prosecution of Yukos Oil CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskiy.[Citation Needed]
In spite of the general tendency to increase judicial independence (for example, by recent considerable salary raise to judges), many judges still see their role not as of impartial and independent arbiters, but as of government officials protecting state interests. See below for more information on the commercial court/business law.
Some specific areas of human rights violations of the Soviet era continued on into the late 1990s and even have been reported up to 2002. These involved experimentation on humans and the use of imported foreign forced labor, particularly from North Korea, to work in forestry in gulag type camps of Siberia (for Russian and other newspaper accounts, see Essay: KAL 007 Survivors and Gulags of Russia). Experimentation on humans have been noted by Russian rights activists in connection with certain medical facilities. The Serbsky Institute and Mental Hospital figuring in as a center for mind altering experiments receives startling confirmation from Emilia Cherkover, former Deputy of the Zelenograd Soviet and member of the Russian Federation Human Rights Commission. Cherkover maintains that, along with Vladivostok and Moscow prisons and the mental hospital in Oryal, microwave (psychotronic and electromagnetic application) experiments had been conducted on humans between 1989 and 1990 at the Serbsky Institute in Moscow (see The Stavitski Account).[Citation Needed]
Journalist Yury Vorobyovsky has been investigating the top secret program of "psychotronic" brainwashing techniques developed by the KGB and the Ministry for three years. He notes Emilia Cherkova's claim that there are over a million victims. Her group, Ecology and Living Environment had filed damages against the Federal Security Service (FSB). The newspaper reports, "there is strong evidence that some kind of psychotronic warfare program did exist in the Soviet period, and that the technology may be falling into the wrong hands" (From Moscow Times, 7-11-95).[Citation Needed]
Religion - Human rights
See: Religion in Russia The Russian constitution provides for freedom of religion and the equality of all religions before the law, as well as the separation of church and state. Although Jews and Muslims continue to encounter prejudice and societal discrimination, they have not been inhibited by the government in the free practice of their religion. High-ranking federal officials have condemned anti-Semitic hate crimes, but law enforcement bodies have not always effectively prosecuted those responsible. The influx of foreign missionaries has led to pressure by groups in Russia, specifically nationalists and the Russian Orthodox Church, to limit the activities of these "nontraditional" religious groups.
In response, the Duma passed a restrictive and potentially discriminatory law on religion in October 1997. The law is complex, with many ambiguous and contradictory provisions. The law's most controversial provisions distinguish between religious "groups" and "organizations" and introduce a 15-year rule, which allows groups that have been in existence for 15 years or longer to obtain accredited status. Senior Russian officials have pledged to implement the 1997 law on religion in a manner that is not in conflict with Russia's international human rights obligations. Some local officials, however, have used the law as a pretext to restrict religious liberty.
In 2016, another law was passed called the Yarovaya law which primarily focuses on anti-terrorism. However, the law also contains provisions which allow for the further persecution of religious minorities found under the 1997 act. Don Ossewaarde was the first Missionary to be convicted under the law.
In practice, only a minority of citizens actively participated in any religion. Many who identified themselves as members of a religious group participated in religious life rarely or not at all. There is no one set of reliable statistics that breaks down the population by denomination, and the statistics below are compiled from government, polling, and religious group sources.
Approximately 100 million citizens are Russian Orthodox. Muslims, with a population estimated between 14 million and 23 million, form the largest religious minority. The majority of Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region and the North Caucasus, although Moscow, St. Petersburg, and parts of Siberia also have sizable Muslim populations. There are an estimated one million Buddhists, the majority of whom live in the traditionally Buddhist regions of Buryatiya, Tuva, and Kalmykiya. According to the NGO Slavic Center for Law and Justice, Protestants make up the second largest group of Christian believers, with 3,500 registered organizations and more than 2 million followers. The Roman Catholic Church estimated that there are 600,000 Catholics, most of whom are not ethnic Russians. There are an estimated 250,000 Jews, the majority of whom live in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In some areas, such as Yakutiya and Chukotka, pantheistic and nature-based religions are practiced independently or alongside other religions.
According to the annual report from the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Ministry of Justice had registered 21,963 religious organizations as of January 1, 2008, 993 fewer than January 2006. The registered religious groups (with the number of registered organizations) include Russian Orthodox (12,586), Muslim (3,815), Protestant (several denominations totaling 3,410), Jehovah's Witnesses (402), Jewish (286), Orthodox Old Believers (283), Roman Catholic (240), Buddhist (200), and other denominations.
It was reported in 2017 that atheism in Russia had fallen by 50% in three years.
Religion in schools
The federal Government does not require religious instruction in schools, but it continues to allow public use of school buildings after hours for the ROC to provide religious instruction on a voluntary basis. Several regions offer a course on Orthodox Christianity in public schools, and five oblasts or regions (Kaluga, Tver, Bryansk, Smolensk, and Voronezh) have a mandatory class on the "Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture." Students may avoid the Belgorod Oblast voluntary course only if their parents provide and pay for an alternative course. The course is offered as an elective in several other regions. In regions where the class is not mandatory, in practice students may be compelled to take it where schools do not provide alternatives.
Some regions offer a class on "History of Religion," a proposal that the Minister of Education had suggested but did not introduce nationally. Although the Ministry of Education rejected continued publication and dissemination of a controversial textbook that detailed Orthodox Christianity's contribution to the country's culture, some schools continued to use the text. The textbook contained descriptions of some religious groups that members of those groups found objectionable. The Congress of Religious Associations in the Tyumen region appealed to the Governor and regional department of education to allow input from other religious groups into the religious culture curriculum, claiming that the course currently contains only the viewpoint of the ROC.
Restrictions on religious activity and/or religious persecution in Czarist, Soviet, and contemporary Russia
Pressure from Putin's regime weakened freedom of expression and media independence, particularly of the major television networks. Five journalists were assassinated in 2008. As some print and Internet media reflected a widening range of views, the government restricted media freedom through direct ownership of media outlets, pressuring the owners of major media outlets to abstain from critical coverage, and harassing and intimidating journalists into practicing self-censorship. Local governments limited freedom of assembly, and police sometimes used violence to prevent groups from engaging in peaceful protest. The government limited freedom of association. The government restricted religious groups in some regions, and there were incidents of societal discrimination, harassment, and violence against religious minorities, including anti-Semitism.
Government pressure continued to weaken freedom of expression and the independence and freedom of some media, particularly major national television networks and regional electronic media outlets. A government decision resulted in the elimination of the last major non-state television network in 2003. National press is also increasingly in government hands or owned by government officials, narrowing the scope of opinion available. Self-censorship is a growing press problem. Unsolved murders of journalists, including the killing of respected investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006, have caused significant international concern and increased pressure on journalists to avoid subjects considered sensitive. In August 2007, authorities arrested several suspects in connection with the Politkovksaya case.[Citation Needed]
Enactment of a new law on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 2006 was criticized in many quarters as a device to control civil society, that is, private organizations. Implementing regulations appear to impose onerous paperwork reporting burdens on NGOs that could be used to limit or even suppress some of them. This law was used to shut down an NGO for the first time in January 2007 on the basis of extremism charges; however, most foreign NGOs have successfully re-registered. Domestic NGOs were not required to re-register, but are required to meeting new reporting requirements.[Citation Needed]
The Russian federal budget has run growing surpluses since 2001, as the government has taxed and saved much of the rapidly increasing oil revenues. According to preliminary figures, the 2006 budget surplus was 7.4% of GDP on a cash basis. Although there are strong pressures to relax spending ahead of elections, the government has loosened its spending gradually, as the economy is running at near capacity and there are dangers of increasing inflation and rapid exchange rate appreciation. Spending increases to date have mostly been for increased salaries of government employees and pensions, but some money is also being dedicated to special investment funds and tax breaks to develop new industries in special economic zones. The government overhauled its tax system for both corporations and individuals in 2000-01, introducing a 13% flat tax for individuals and a unified tax for corporations, which improved overall collection. Business has put pressure on the government to reduce value added taxes (VAT) on oil and gas, but the government has postponed this discussion. Tax enforcement of disputes, particularly following the Yukos case, continues to be uneven and unpredictable.
A major focus of increased government spending has been the military, with large increases being spent on overhauling and updating equipment, as well as increasing salaries of military personnel, though a huge backlog of problems remain from the chaotic Yeltsin era and almost two decades of chronic underinvestment.
Much needed investment in national infrastructure, including railways and waterways, which are much more important in transportation in Russia than in the US and Europe has been insignificant, leading to bottlenecks that hamper growth and development. Telecoms and electricity production and distribution also remain run-down and outdated from the post-Soviet collapse. As a result of this, Russia remains dependent on energy exports for income, with the domestic economy effectively held back by capacity restraints or neglected facilities, a fact which has left Russia vulnerable to a collapse in fuel prices, such as that experienced at the beginning the global financial crisis, when crude oil prices dropped from over $100 per barrel to less than $60. Currently, Russian development of railways and highways in terms of new/renewed miles of route lies at around 1/10 that of China, despite having a much larger landmass.
Former German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck gave advice to future chancellors and world leaders about dealing with Russia: "Do not expect that once taking advantage of Russia's weakness you will receive dividends forever. Russians always come for their money. And when they come, do not rely on any agreements you have signed and which you're supposed to justify. They're not worth the paper they're written on. With the Russians, always play straight, or do not play at all."
In the years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia took important steps to become a full partner in the world's principal political groupings. On December 27, 1991, Russia assumed the permanent UN Security Council seat formerly held by the Soviet Union. Russia also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Russia and the European Union (EU) signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. It signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace initiative in 1994. The NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997 and the NATO-Russia Council superseded that in 2002. Russia acquiesced (despite misgivings) in enlargement of NATO by members first of the former Warsaw Pact and most recently by the Baltic states that had been forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union.
Over the past several years Russia has increased its international profile, played an increasing role in regional issues, and been more assertive in dealing with its neighbors. The rise in energy prices has given it leverage over countries which are dependent on Russian sources. Russia continues to support separatist regimes in Georgia and Moldova.
Relations with NATO
To assent to the reunification of Germany, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ultimately agreed to a proposal from then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (DOS) that a reunited Germany would be part of NATO but the military alliance would not move “one inch” to the east, that is, absorb any of the former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO.
On Feb. 9, 1990, Baker said: “We consider that the consultations and discussions in the framework of the 2+4 mechanism should give a guarantee that the reunification of Germany will not lead to the enlargement of NATO’s military organization to the East.” On the next day, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said: “We consider that NATO should not enlarge its sphere of activity.” Gorbachev’s mistake was not to get it in writing as a legally-binding agreement.
|“U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’ assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents …
The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels. … The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of ‘pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.’ …
President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (‘I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests.’”
In May 1995 President Bill Clinton was invited to Moscow for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the victory over Hitler. In Moscow, Russian President Boris Yeltsin berated Clinton about NATO expansion, seeing “nothing but humiliation” for Russia: “For me to agree to the borders of NATO expanding towards those of Russia – that would constitute a betrayal on my part of the Russian people.”
Vladimir Putin assumed office as the president of Russia on the last day of 1999. In an interview with David Frost broadcast on the BBC on March 13, 2000, Putin expressed his desire to see Russia join NATO:
|Frost: Tell me about your views on NATO, if you would. Do you see NATO as a potential partner, or rival, or an enemy?
Putin: Russia is a part of European culture. I simply cannot see my country isolated from Europe, from what we often describe as the civilized world. That is why it is hard for me to regard NATO as an enemy. I think that such a perception has nothing good in store for Russia and the rest of the world. ...
We strive for equal cooperation, partnership, we believe that it is possible to speak even about higher levels of integration with NATO. But only, I repeat, if Russia is an equal partner. As you know, we constantly express our negative attitude to NATO's expansion to the East. ...
Frost: Is it possible that Russia will ever join NATO?
Putin: Why not? I do not rule out such a possibility. I repeat, on condition that Russia's interests are going to be taken into account, if Russia becomes a full-fledged partner. I want to specially emphasize this. ...
When we say that we object to NATO's expansion to the East, we are not expressing any special ambitions of our own, ambitions in respect of some regions of the world. ... By the way, we have never declared any part of the world a zone of our national interests. Personally, I prefer to speak about strategic partnership. The zone of strategic interests of any particular region means first of all the interests of the people who live in that region. ...
Within hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call President George W. Bush and offer sympathy and support for what became the first invocation of NATO Article V, "an attack against one is an attack against all." Putin announced a five-point plan to support the war on terror, pledging that the Russian government would (1) share intelligence with their American counterparts, (2) open Russian airspace for flights providing humanitarian assistance (3) cooperate with Russia's Central Asian allies in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to provide similar kinds of airspace access to American flights, (4) participate in international search and rescue efforts, and (5) increase direct assistance -humanitarian as well as military assistance -- to the Afghan Northern Alliance. The intelligence Putin shared, including data that helped American forces find their way around Kabul and logistical information about Afghanistan’s topography and caves, contributed to the success of operation and rout of the Taliban. Two weeks after the attacks, Putin was invited to make a speech to a Special Session of the Bundestag, the first ever by a Russian head of state to the German parliament. Among the numerous subjects Putin addressed in fluent German was peace and stability in the common European home:
|"But what are we lacking today for cooperation to be efficient?
In spite of all the positive achievements of the past decades, we have not yet developed an efficient mechanism for working together.
The coordinating agencies set up so far do not offer Russia real opportunities for taking part in drafting and taking decision. Today decisions are often taken, in principle, without our participation, and we are only urged afterwards to support such decisions. After that they talk again about loyalty to NATO. They even say that such decisions cannot be implemented without Russia. Let us ask ourselves: is this normal? Is this true partnership?
Yes, the assertion of democratic principles in international relations, the ability to find a correct decision and readiness for compromise are a difficult thing. But then, it was the Europeans who were the first to understand how important it is to look for consensus over and above national egoism. We agree with that! All these are good ideas. However, the quality of decisions that are taken, their efficiency and, ultimately, European and international security in general depend on the extent to which we succeed today in translating these obvious principles into practical politics.
It seemed just recently that a truly common home would shortly rise on the continent, a home in which the Europeans would not be divided into eastern or western, northern or southern. However, these divides will remain, primarily because we have never fully shed many of the Cold War stereotypes and cliches.
Today we must say once and for all: the Cold War is done with! We have entered a new stage of development. We understand that without a modern, sound and sustainable security architecture we will never be able to create an atmosphere of trust on the continent, and without that atmosphere of trust there can be no united Greater Europe! Today we must say that we renounce our stereotypes and ambitions and from now on will jointly work for the security of the people of Europe and the world as a whole.
In 2004 the Baltic states - Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia joined NATO, setting up for the first time a common border between the Russian Federation and a NATO state. Three years later, at the Munich Security Conference, Putin declared, “We have the right to ask: against whom is this [NATO] expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.” In 2008 NATO said Ukraine and Georgia would become members. Four other Eastern European states joined NATO in 2009.
In the run up to the Russia-Ukraine war of 2022, both the United States and NATO rejected without consideration two treaty proposals by the Russian Federation to avoid war. The treaty proposals would require NATO to pledge not granting Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia NATO membership; U.S. missiles in Poland and Romania to be removed; and NATO deployments to Eastern Europe reversed. The U.S. and NATO rejected the proposals without consideration and instead sent more NATO forces to Eastern Europe and continued to heavily arm Ukraine. NATO-backed neo-Nazis attacked the Donbas on February 14, 2022.
With a diplomatic solution rejected out of hand by the United States and NATO, the Russian Federation entered Ukraine on February 24, 2022 to put a stop to the eight year war against the people of the Donbas by the Kyiv regime which had already claimed 14,000 lives. After more than two weeks fighting claiming more civilian lives with NATO-supplied weapons, on March 12, 2022, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg began walking back NATO threats to Russia by saying membership for Ukraine was not relevant or on the agenda.
Relations with the United States
The United States embassy in Russia is located on Donetsk Peoples Republic Square in Moscow. The street was renamed after American aggression against the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014.
Vladimir Putin revealed that the Yeltsin administration had been compromised by corrupt CIA agent who were exploiting Russia for personal gain during the hard times in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its painful transition to a free market economy:
|"in the mid-1990s, we had, as it later turned out, cadres of the US Central Intelligence Agency sitting as advisers and even official employees of the Russian government...They were later prosecuted in the United States for violating US law and taking part in privatization while they were CIA employees working for us...They lived and worked here…They didn’t need such subtle instruments of interference in our political life because they controlled everything anyway”.|
Ties between Moscow and Washington plunged to a post-Cold War low as Barack Obama slapped on sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and Russia's alleged meddling in Trump's election. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that US sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Moscow "reverses the actions" it has taken in Ukraine. In April 2017 Putin explained that the US-Russia relations have gotten worse under Trump.
U.S. Col Douglas MacGregor, a critic of the globalist and Uniparty war on Russia said, "Russia to them [the Uniparty] represents the last major European state that is not part of the globalist internationalist empire, if you will. They've [Russia] resisted LGBTQ, they've resisted what I would call this interesting blend of nihilism-Marxism-atheism, and as a result, they [Russia] have to be subverted and overthrown."
Relations with China
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of the Russia-China relationship revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in cryptocurrency.
Relations with Ukraine
On February 15, 2021 the State Duma passed a resolution calling for the recognition of the independence of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine by a vote of 351 to 16 with 1 abstention.
Relations with Lithuania
In violation of a longstanding treaty in perpetuity, Lithuania cut off rail traffic of critical materials to the Russian federal territory of Kaliningrad in June 2022. The Russian foreign ministry said: ‘We consider provocative measures of the Lithuanian side which violate Lithuania’s international legal obligations, primarily the 2002 Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the European Union on transit between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation, to be openly hostile.’ A member of the Russian State Duma, Yevgeny Fedorov, submitted draft legislation to revoke the Russian Federation's recognition of the independent status of Lithuania.
Russia's efforts to transform its Soviet-legacy military into a smaller, lighter and more mobile force continue to be hampered by an ossified military leadership, discipline problems and human rights violations, limited funding and demographics. Recent steps by the government under Vladimir Putin suggest a desire to reform. There has been an increased emphasis on practical training, and the government is introducing bills to improve the organization of the military. Modelled on the American use of Wackenhut and Blackwater, Russia has added the use of contract soldiers with the Wagner Group.
Despite large increases in the budget, defense spending is still unable to sustain Russia's large military. Current troop strength, estimated at 1.1 million, is large in comparison to Russia's GDP and military budget, which continues to make the process of transformation to a professional army difficult. This is both the result of the Soviet legacy and military thinking, and Russian geography, which demands a sizable force simply to patrol and maintain normal defensive readiness across Russia's huge, remote and sparsely populated territory. Furthermore, unrest and NATO meddling in Russia's southern regions demands a substantial military force at a high level of readiness.
In the 21st century, Russia has modernized its conventional strategic doctrine with a movement away from mass formations, conversation to mobile special operations forces, and development of amphibious landing capabilities.
Russian military salaries are low. Though, the army provides all necessities, the quality of accommodation is low, though the situation has improved considerably since the Yeltsin era when the military establishment almost totally collapsed, and some soldiers actually starved when provisions to remote bases went undelivered for months on end. Problems with both discipline and brutal hazing remain common, however. HIV infection rates in the Russian army are estimated to be between two and five times higher than in the general population, and tuberculosis is a persistent problem both in and outside the military, affecting the fitness of recruits.
Although the available manpower (males 15-49) for the Russian Armed Forces was projected at 35.2 million in 2005, only approximately 11% of eligible males do military service. Moreover, military officials complain that new recruit cohorts are plagued by increasing incidences of poor education, communicable diseases and criminality.
The Russian Government has possibly the most professional army on the planet. Current plans envision a transition to a mixed force, in which professional soldiers fill the ranks of select units and conscription is gradually phased out. Some officials have talked of developing a non-commissioned officer corps to lead the professional army, but the military has yet to make any concrete decisions, due to internal political considerations and a backlog of other issues soaking up increased funding.
Russia is a major arms producer and supplier to the word, with the price of Russian armaments generally only about 70% the cost of NATO armaments, more reliable, less costly to maintain, and easier to train people in its use.
Russia continues to maintain a sizable strategic nuclear force equipped with global reach, with land, sea and air based nuclear launch facilities, though maintenance issues continue to affect the readiness of the system due to a flight of skilled personnel from the military, and financial and organization pressures in the post-Soviet era. For this reason, Russia has sought a renewed START treaty with the United States for a mutual reduction of strategic nuclear forces. This agreement was reached between Presidents Obama and Medvedev in April 2010.
Having liberated 12,000 cities, towns and villages furing World War II, the Russian military remains the most experienced military establishment in urban warfare.
Principles Governing the Use of Armed Forces and Other Troops
Article 13 states: “The Russian Federation considers it lawful to utilize the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops to repulse aggression directed against it…The Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops should be prepared to repulse aggression, effectively engage an aggressor, and conduct active operations (both defense and offensive) under any scenario for the unleashing and waging of wars and armed conflicts, under conditions of the massive use by the enemy of modern and advanced combat weapons, including weapons of mass destruction of all types."
According to an April 21, 2022 Congressional Research Service Report, Russia has altered and adjusted Soviet nuclear doctrine to meet the circumstances of the post-Cold War world. In 1993, Russia explicitly rejected the Brezhnev era’s no-first-use pledge, in part because of the weakness of its conventional forces at the time. Russia subsequently revised its military doctrine and national security concept several times over the nect few decades, with successive versions in the 1990s appearing to place a greater reliance on nuclear weapons. For example, the national security concept issued in 1997 allowed for the use of nuclear weapons “in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation as an independent sovereign state.” The military doctrine published in 2000 expanded the circumstances in which Russia might use nuclear weapons, including in response to attacks using weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies, as well as in response to “large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.”
These revisions led to questions in the West about whether Russia would employ nuclear weapons preemptively in a regional war or only in response to the use of nuclear weapons in a broader conflict. In mid-2009, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s Security Council, hinted that Russia would have the option to launch a “preemptive nuclear strike” against an aggressor “using conventional weapons in an all-out, regional, or even local war.”
When Russia updated its military doctrine in 2010, it did not specifically provide for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. Instead, the doctrine stated that Russia “reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.”
In Early June 2020, Russia released a new document, titled “On Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” that outlined the threats and circumstances that could lead to Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. This document specifically notes that Russia “considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence.” It states that Russia’s nuclear deterrence policy “is defensive by nature, it is aimed at maintaining the nuclear forces potential at the level sufficient for nuclear deterrence, and guarantees protection of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, and deterrence of a potential adversary from aggression against the Russian Federation and/or its allies.” It emphasizes that Russia maintains forces that could “inflict guaranteed unacceptable damage on a potential adversary … in any circumstances”
The document lists a number of threats that Russia might face and circumstances under which it might consider the use of nuclear weapons. It indicates that Russia could respond with nuclear weapons when it has received “reliable data on a launch of ballistic missiles attacking the territory of the Russian Federation and/or its allies” and in response to the “use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction by an adversary against the Russian Federation and/or its allies.” It could also respond with nuclear weapons following an “attack by adversary against critical governmental or military sites of the Russian Federation, disruption of which would undermine nuclear forces response actions” and “aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”
As with previous official statements, this document does not call for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons during conventional conflicts. But it does not completely resolve the question of whether Russia would escalate to nuclear use if it were losing a conventional war. It notes that, “in the event of a military conflict, this Policy provides for the prevention of an escalation of military actions and their termination on conditions that are acceptable for the Russian Federation and/or its allies.”
If Russia were to overpower the United States on land using their cyborgs and Armta tanks, the US still has a technology to defeat Russia using the NAVY fleet armed nuclear Tomahawk missiles, submarines with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Dakota based ICBMs and nuclear bombers.
In America if the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. and a top secret Sierra Nevada Mountains command center were wiped out - that would be the end of the war for the United States because no one would give any more central orders and the entire US Army machine will be at stand still, while local commanders can do little with their units without the centralized coordination and joint Army, Navy and Air Force support. In other words, if those 3 command centers were wiped out - it would spell an automatic defeat of all US forces around the globe.
Dead Hand Doctrine
Russia developed Terminator Skynet-like technology, where the Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to wage war on Russia's behalf even if any single Russian secret command center is wiped out. It is known as the Russia Dead Hand Doctrine.
Every hour Russian AI is checking with commanding officers in the Kremlin. The officer responds that everything is OK and the Russian skynet goes to sleep. In case the officer does not answer, AI asks another officer in the secret command center. In case of silence, it repeats requests in 5 minutes and scanning for any missile launches around the world. If more than 1 missile launch is detected and both officers are silent, Dead Hand takes control over all Russian missile silos and submarines and launches all Russian ICBMs to there designated targets - all NATO bases and major cities of NATO countries.
It will also give orders to any remaining Russian bombers, mobile ICMB launchers and ground forcers to begin immediate attack of their predestinated targets.
Along with that Russian skynet will deploy its drones and unmanned vehicles. Some of them will have an option to automatically eliminate all biological targets over 50 Kilograms or 100 Pounds that it can detect.
After that, Dead Head launches a fleet of unmanned submarines - each converted to 100 megaton warhead torpedoes that target major NATO ports - from Istanbul to New York. Each atomic torpedo will create a mega radioactive tsunami that will flood all coastal cities.
Along with that, Dead Hand will blow up tons of conventional charges on the Russian Kuril Islands, collapsing those islands in the Pacific Ocean with a tsumani wave flooding anything between Japan and Los Angeles all the way to Australia and Alaska.
Then Russian Skynet will launch another fleet of small, unmanned submarines with Cesium and Americium warheads that will penetrate deep in American and European rivers making the Western World uninhabitable for the next millennium.
At the end of March, 2009, the World Bank issued a grim forecast of the Russian Economy, projecting a 4.5% decline in the economy in 2009 and warning that 5.8 million Russians would fall into poverty unless the government shifts spending to poor families. It praised the government's $85 billion anticrisis program, which stabilized Russia's banks and prevented financial panic. But it said too little had gone to households — a hazard in a society where 37 million people, a quarter of the population, lives near the poverty line.
The Russian economy underwent tremendous stress in the 1990s as it moved from a centrally planned economy to a free market system. Difficulties in implementing fiscal reforms aimed at raising government revenues and a dependence on short-term borrowing to finance budget deficits led to a serious financial crisis in 1998. Lower prices for Russia's major export earners (oil and minerals) and a loss of investor confidence due to the Asian financial crisis exacerbated financial problems. The result was a rapid and steep decline (60%) in the value of the ruble, flight of foreign investment, delayed payments on sovereign and private debts, a breakdown of commercial transactions through the banking system, and the threat of runaway inflation.
Still, Russia weathered the crisis well. In the 8 years following the financial crisis, GDP growth averaged just under 7% due to a devalued ruble, implementation of key economic reforms (tax, banking, labor and land codes), tight fiscal policy, and favorable commodities prices. Household consumption and fixed capital investments have both grown by about 10 percent per year since 1999 and have replaced net exports as the main drivers of demand growth. Inflation and exchange rates have stabilized due to a prudent fiscal policy (Russia has run a budget surplus since 2003). The government created a stabilization/rainy day fund ($127 billion in mid-2007), and has the third-largest foreign exchange reserves in the world (close to $420 billion in mid-2007) which should shelter it from commodity price shocks.
Russia's balance of payments moves from strength to strength. The current account balance grew from $58.6 billion in 2004 to $95.3 billion in 2006, almost entirely due to oil price increases. The capital account turned positive in 2006, with net inflow of $6.1 billion. In addition, net private capital flows in 2006 increased significantly to $40.9 billion, compared to an inflow of $0.1 billion in 2005 due to liberalization of the capital account in mid-2006. Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows dramatically improved in 2006 to an estimated $31 billion (inflows totaled $15.4 billion and $14.6 billion in 2004 and 2005, respectively). As of July 1, 2006, the ruble is convertible for both current and capital transactions. Russia prepaid its entire Soviet-era Paris Club debt of $22 billion in late 2006, pushing Russia's sovereign foreign debt down to $45 billion at the end of 2006, or about 5 percent of GDP. Russia's total public and private foreign debt at the end of 2006 was $310 billion, or 31 percent of GDP. Such a dramatic reversal to the macroeconomic situation is truly remarkable. Russia currently has a sovereign investment-grade rating from Standard and Poor's of BBB+.
Although the economy has begun to diversify, the government budget remains dependent on oil and gas revenues; consumption and investment are, however, contributing to an increasing share to GDP growth. While currently sheltered from external price shocks, the government realizes the need to intensify reforms that will promote new investment in aging infrastructure and continued productivity gains. The government believes it can do this by creating state-sponsored investment funds, special economic zones, and by exercising control of strategic enterprises (a draft law defining strategic sectors was submitted to the Duma in August 2007). Although investors are returning to Russia, excessive bureaucracy, corruption, insufficient and insufficiently enforced legislation, selective interpretation of laws (particularly tax laws), unclear limits and conditions on foreign investment, obsolete infrastructure, and stalled economic reforms still remain a problem.[Citation Needed] In 2005, the government announced reform programs in four priority areas (health, education, housing, and agriculture), but further work is needed on them as well as in financial regulation, civil service reform, and reform of government monopolies, such as railroads, gas, and electricity.
- GDP: $1.65 trillion (2020)
- Growth rate: 3.0% (2020)
- Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, timber, furs, precious and nonferrous metals.
- Agriculture: Products—Grain, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, meat, dairy products.
- Industry: Types—Complete range of manufactures: automobiles, trucks, trains, agricultural equipment, advanced aircraft, aerospace, machine and equipment products; mining and extractive industry; medical and scientific instruments; construction equipment.
- Trade (2006): Exports--$304 billion: petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, woods and wood products, metals, chemicals. Major markets—EU, CIS, China, Japan. Imports--$165 billion: machinery and equipment, chemicals, consumer goods, medicines, meat, sugar, semi-finished metal products. Major partners—EU, U.S., NIS, Japan, China. U.S. exports--$4.7 billion. Principal U.S. exports (2006)--oil/gas equipment, meat, inorganic chemicals, tobacco, aircraft, medical equipment, autos/parts. U.S. imports--$19.8 billion. Principal U.S. imports (2006)--oil, aluminum, chemicals, platinum, iron/steel, fish and crustaceans, nickel, wood, and copper.
The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although well educated and skilled, it is largely mismatched to the rapidly changing needs of the Russian economy. Official unemployment has shrunken in recent years to 6.9%, and labor shortages have started to appear in some high-skilled job markets. Nonetheless, pockets of high unemployment remain and many Russian workers are underemployed. Unemployment is highest among women and young people. Following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, the standard of living fell dramatically. However, real disposable incomes have doubled since 1999, and experts estimate that the middle class ranges from one-fifth to one-third of the population. In 2006, 15.8% of the population lived below the subsistence level, in contrast to 38.1% in 1998.[Citation Needed]
Russia's low fertility rate, aging population, projected working population and its potential impact on its economy
Adam Gwiazda's article Demographic crisis in Russia states:
|“|| The state of public health is one of the most extreme aspects of the demographic crisis in Russia. As a result of the AIDS epidemic, alcoholism and the dreadful state of health care, in the years 2005-2015 the mortality rate in Russia was three times higher among men and twice as high among women as in other countries with a similar level of social and economic development. More than half of the deaths of Russians aged 15-54 were caused by alcohol abuse after the collapse of the USSR. It should be noted that even the increase in the income of the Russian population by about 80 per cent in the years 1999-2008 did not result in a decrease in the mortality rate. High Russian mortality is the result not only of “normally” treatable diseases, such as tuberculosis, but also of lifestyle: drinking vodka, smoking cigarettes and AIDS. Every year, 500,000 people die due to alcohol in Russia. This applies to both women and men. The drug problem is also huge, as the prices of drugs are lower than in Western countries.
Russia is also unable to cope with the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, which are the main cause of death. The problem is not only the lack of sufficient funds for health care (until mid-2005, about 4.2 per cent of GDP was allocated for this purpose, while in rich European countries it was on average 8-10 per cent of GDP), but also the country’s unfavorable social and economic situation, relatively low position of health and a long life on the Russian list of priorities, poverty, lack of responsibility for one’s own health, and bad habits.
Russia and Ukraine are said to have the highest growth rates of HIV infection in the world. In Russia HIV seems to be transmitted mostly by intravenous drug users sharing needles, although data is very uncertain. Data from the Federal AIDS Center shows that the number of registered cases is doubling every 12 months and is currently at 300,000 persons. When projections are made which allow for people in high-risk groups who have not been tested for the disease, estimates of the actual number of HIV-infected persons are approximately 3 million. The high growth rate of AIDS cases, if unchecked, will have negative economic consequences. Investment will suffer from the diversion of private and government funds to AIDS treatment. The effect on the labor force may be acute since about 80% of infected individuals in Russia are under 30 years of age.[Citation Needed]
A strong expansion in domestic demand continues to drive GDP growth, despite a slowdown in manufacturing. GDP growth and industrial production for 2006 were 6.7% and 4.8%, respectively, relative to 6.4% and 5.7% in 2005. GDP growth is currently derived from non-tradable sectors, but investment remains concentrated in tradables (oil and gas). Construction was the fastest growing sector of the economy, expanding by 14% in 2006. The main private sector services—wholesale & retail trade, banking & insurance, and transportation & communications—showed strong growth of about 10%. In contrast, public sector services—education, health care, and public administration—lagged behind with only 2-4% growth in 2006. Recent productivity growth has still been strong in some parts of domestic manufacturing. Real disposable incomes grew by 10.2% in 2006, spurring considerable growth in private consumption.
Large balance of payments surpluses have complicated monetary policy for Russia. The Central Bank has followed a policy of managed appreciation to ease the impact on domestic producers and has sterilized capital inflows with its large budget surpluses. However, the Central Bank also has been buying back dollars, pumping additional ruble liquidity into the system. Given the rising demand for money, this has softened the inflationary impact, but these policy choices have complicated the government's efforts to lower inflation to the single digits. Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation was 9% in 2006 and 10.9% in 2005, having steadily decreased from 20.2% in 2000, due primarily to prudent fiscal policy and in 2006 lower world oil prices.
Russia has a body of conflicting, overlapping and rapidly changing laws, decrees and regulations, which has resulted in an ad hoc and unpredictable approach to doing business. In this environment, negotiations and contracts from commercial transactions are complex and protracted. Uneven implementation of laws creates further complications. Regional and local courts are often subject to political pressure, and corruption is widespread.[Citation Needed] However, more and more small and medium businesses in recent years have reported fewer difficulties in this regard, especially in the Moscow region. In addition, Russian businesses are increasingly turning to the courts to resolve disputes. Russia's WTO accession process is also helping to bring the country's legal and regulatory regime in line with internationally accepted practices.
The mineral-packed Ural Mountains and the vast oil, gas, coal, and timber reserves of Siberia and the Russian Far East make Russia rich in natural resources. However, most such resources are located in remote and climatically unfavorable areas that are difficult to develop and far from Russian ports. Nevertheless, Russia is a leading producer and exporter of minerals, gold, and all major fuels. Natural resources, especially energy, dominate Russian exports. Ninety percent of Russian exports to the United States are minerals or other raw materials.
Russia is one of the most industrialized of the former Soviet republics. However, years of very low investment have left much of Russian industry antiquated and highly inefficient. Besides its resource-based industries, it has developed large manufacturing capacities, notably in metals, food products, and transport equipment. Russia is now the world's third-largest exporter of steel and primary aluminum. Russia inherited most of the defense industrial base of the Soviet Union, so armaments remain an important export category for Russia. Efforts have been made with varying success over the past few years to convert defense industries to civilian use, and the Russian Government is engaged in an ongoing process to privatize the remaining 9,222 state-owned enterprises, 33% of which are in the industrial manufacturing sector.
For its great size, Russia has relatively little area suited for agriculture because of its arid climate and inconsistent rainfall. Northern areas concentrate mainly on livestock, and the southern parts and western Siberia produce grain. Restructuring of former state farms has been an extremely slow process. Foreigners are not allowed to own farmland in Russia although long-term leases are permitted. Private farms and garden plots of individuals account for over one-half of all agricultural production.
Russia attracted an estimated $31 billion in FDI in 2006 (3.2% of GDP), up from $13 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2005.Russia's annual FDI figures are now in line with those of China, India, and Brazil. However, Russia's per capita cumulative FDI still lags far behind such countries as Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. The paradox is that Russia's challenging business climate, lack of transparency, and weak rule of law/corruption[Citation Needed] has taken a back seat to Russia's extraordinary macroeconomic fundamentals and the consumer and retail boom, which is providing double digit returns to investors and attracting new flows. Russian domestic investment is also returning home, as the foreign investment coming into Russia from havens like Cyprus and Gibraltar, is actually returning Russian capital . As of the end of 2006, loans to the financial sector were 57.2% of total banking sector assets. Retail loans amounted to $78.4 billion at the end of 2006, up from $41 billion at the end of 2005. Retail deposits increased to $144.1 billion from $95.7 billion over the same period. Also, currently deposits are fully insured up to $4,000 and an additional $12,000 is insured at 90%.
Although still small by international standards, the Russian banking sector is growing fast and is becoming a larger source of investment funds. To meet a growing demand for loans, which they were unable to cover with domestic deposits, Russian banks borrowed heavily abroad in 2006, accounting for two-thirds of the private-sector capital inflows in that year. Ruble lending has increased since the October 1998 financial crisis, and in 2006 loans were 63% of total bank assets, with consumer loans posting the fastest growth at 74% that same year. Fewer Russians prefer to keep their money outside the banking sector, the recent appreciation of the ruble against the dollar has persuaded many Russians to keep their money in rubles or other currencies such as the euro, and retail deposits grew by 65% in 2006. Despite recent growth, the poorly developed banking system, along with contradictory regulations across banking, bond, and equity markets, still makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to raise capital as well as to permit capital transfer from a capital-rich sector such as energy to capital-poor sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing and to diversify risk. Banks still perceive small and medium commercial lending as risky, and some banks are inexperienced with assessing credit risk, though the situation is improving. In 2003, Russia enacted a deposit insurance law to protect deposits up to 100,000 rubles (about $3,700) per depositor, and a bill is currently in the Duma, which if passed will increase this coverage to 190,000 rubles (about $7,000) per depositor.
The U.S. exported $4.7 billion in goods to Russia in 2006, a 21% increase from the previous year. Corresponding U.S. imports from Russia were $19.8 billion, up 29%. Russia is currently the 33rd-largest export market for U.S. goods. Russian exports to the U.S. were fuel oil, inorganic chemicals, aluminum, and precious stones. U.S. exports to Russia were machinery, meat (mostly poultry), electrical equipment, and high-tech products.
Russia's overall trade surplus in 2006 was $139 billion, up from $118 billion in 2005. World prices continue to have a major effect on export performance, since commodities—particularly oil, natural gas, metals, and timber—comprise 80% of Russian exports. Russian GDP growth and the surplus/deficit in the Russian Federation state budget are closely linked to world oil prices.
Russia is in the process of negotiating terms of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. and Russia concluded a bilateral WTO accession agreement in late 2006, and negotiations continue in 2007 on meeting WTO requirements for accession. Russia reports that it has yet to conclude bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia and Georgia.
According to the 2005 U.S. Trade Representative's National Trade Estimate, Russia continues to maintain a number of barriers with respect to imports, including tariffs and tariff-rate quotas; discriminatory and prohibitive charges and fees; and discriminatory licensing, registration, and certification regimes. Discussions continue within the context of Russia's WTO accession to eliminate these measures or modify them to be consistent with internationally accepted trade policy practices. Non-tariff barriers are frequently used to restrict foreign access to the market and are also a significant topic in Russia's WTO negotiations. In addition, large losses to U.S. audiovisual and other companies in Russia owing to poor enforcement of intellectual property rights in Russia is an ongoing irritant in U.S.-Russia trade relations. Russia continues to work to bring its technical regulations, including those related to product and food safety, into conformity with international standards.
At the onset of Operation Barbarossa, Russia was caught flatfooted in military preparedness and defense spending. In the four years during World War II the Russian economy became geared up and fully focused on arms manufacture. When the war ended, Russian conventional arms manufacturing never ceased and became one among several precipitating causes of the Cold War. Defense conversion to a peacetime, consumer driven, manufacturing economy never occurred. The situation was compounded by a costly nuclear arms race which made conventional arms spending redundant and wasteful. The communist system imposed a rigid cost-burden on ordinary people's lives to support the Soviet military industrial complex at the expense of luxury consumer goods, such as automobiles, television sets, and household appliances, that the Western capitalist system enjoyed.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has tried to improve the living standards of ordinary citizens and consumers by reducing costly defense expenditures and promote the manufacture of household consumer goods. However Russia has been forced to maintain its status as a nuclear superpower through a series of agreements with the United States, beginning in the period of Detente of the 1970s, to never allow China to catch-up in the sphere of nuclear weapons development and manufacture. To live up to these commitments requires a constant process of modernization and adaptation to technological improvements, which the Russian people can scarcely afford, but were forced into in the modern tri-polar world which has maintained the peace and avoided the use of nuclear weapons since 1945.
World War I
In 1917 Russia suffered two successive internal Revolutions which would later caused it to withdraw from the side of the Allies and leave the war altogether. The February Revolution overthrew the centuries-old monarchy of the Tsar; the October Revolution installed the communist Bolshevik Party under V.I. Lenin. The lack of success against the German and Austrian Empires, and the hyperinflation caused by unsustainable military spending by the Russian government led to much internal discontent and economic chaos.
Losses and hardship of the war had weakened Russian Czar Nicholas II. He abdicated the throne in March 1917 in favor of a provisional government headed by Alexander Kerensky. Hopes for a democratic revolution still existed at this time. But in October 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and the Communist Party, which was never strong enough to challenge the Czar, overthrew the fledgling provisional government. The Communists later executed every member of the Czar's family including the children.
Lenin became the founder of the Soviet state. He was both a writer and a revolutionary, a rare combination. He was the brother of the "bomb thrower" Alexander Ulyanov who was hanged for his involvement in terrorist activity and an assassination attempt on Czar Alexander III in 1887. An atheist, he became a Marxist in 1889. He obtained a law degree shortly afterwards, and by 1895 was a subversive who was arrested and sent to the Tsarist gulag along the Lena River in frigid Siberia where he adopted the name Lenin after the place of his internment. Once he served his time he left for Zurich, where he developed his ideas further and became a leader of the Bolsheviks. He was returned to Russia by the Germans in the wake of chaos during the Kerensky regime with the hope to led the Bolsheviks to power and negotiate a peace settlement with the Germans. After the Treaty of Versailles failed to recognize the settlement between Germany and the Soviet Union in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, he then ruled the Soviet Union and imposed a system of Marxism-Leninism (communism) that remained in force there until Stalin's rise to power.
World War II
- See also: Operation Barbarossa
Post 1991 transition
In a review of New York Times reporter Anne Williamson's book, Contagion: The Betrayal of Liberty -- Russia and the United States in the 1990s, Paul Likoudis writes: "According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than [Jeffrey] Sachs' "shock therapy" -- a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries -- including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. -- who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.
These third-generation Bolsheviks -- led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition -- became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors."
In late 1994, the Russian security forces launched a military operation in the Republic of Chechnya against internationally financed Islamists who were intent on creating a Caliphate. The protracted conflict, which received close coverage in the Russian media, was ignored by Western media. In August 1996 the Russian and Chechen Republic authorities negotiated a settlement that resulted in greater autonomy for the Republic to deal with Islamists a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the holding of elections in January 1997.
Following a number of continued terrorist attacks from Chechen jihads against non-Muslims, the Russian government launched a new military campaign into Chechnya in 1997. By spring 2000, federal forces claimed control over Chechen territory, but fighting continued as jihadis regularly ambushed Russian forces in the region. Throughout 2002 and 2003, the ability of Islamists to battle the Russian forces waned but they claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts. In 2005 and 2006, key terrorist leaders were killed by Russian forces.
Global War on Terror
Within hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call U.S. President George W. Bush and offer sympathy and support for what became the first invocation of NATO Article V, "an attack against one is an attack against all." Putin announced a five-point plan to support the war on terror, pledging that the Russian government would (1) share intelligence with their American counterparts, (2) open Russian airspace for flights providing humanitarian assistance (3) cooperate with Russia's Central Asian allies in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to provide similar kinds of airspace access to American flights, (4) participate in international search and rescue efforts, and (5) increase direct assistance -humanitarian as well as military assistance -- to the Afghan Northern Alliance. The intelligence Putin shared, including data that helped American forces find their way around Kabul and logistical information about Afghanistan’s topography and caves, contributed to the success of operation and rout of the Taliban. Two weeks after the attacks, Putin was invited to make a speech to a Special Session of the Bundestag, the first ever by a Russian head of state to the German parliament. Among the numerous subjects Putin addressed in fluent German was peace and stability in the common European home.
The Beslan massacre occurred when a group of Chechen jihadis took over 1200 pupils and their teachers hostage in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia, on September 1, 2004. The people of Beslan are mostly Christian and this is why they were targeted. The terrorists began by executing male teachers; female teachers were raped, tortured and taunted for being Christian. Pupils, both female and male, were forced to strip to their underwear; many of the children were raped by fanatical jihadists who recorded the rapes on video. An 18 Month old baby was knifed to death by one of the Muslim terrorists.
On September 4, possibly accidentally, a battle erupted between Russian forces and the terrorists. More than 330 civilians died, including 186 children. Many of the children were shot in the back by the terrorists. The Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev, who was trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban and Pakistani ISI claimed responsibility for the attack, which ranks as one of the worst terrorist outrages in history. Basayev was later killed by Russian forces.
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