Founded in the 12th century, the Principality of Muscovy was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities. In the early 17th century, a new ROMANOV Dynasty continued this policy of expansion across Siberia to the Pacific. Under PETER I (ruled 1682-1725), hegemony was extended to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. During the 19th century, more territorial acquisitions were made in Europe and Asia. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms. Devastating defeats and food shortages in World War I led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire and to the overthrow in 1917 of the ROMANOV Dynasty. The communists under Vladimir LENIN seized power soon after and formed the USSR. The brutal rule of Iosif STALIN (1928-53) strengthened communist rule and Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. After defeating Germany in World War II as part of an alliance with the US (1939-1945), the USSR expanded its territory and influence in Eastern Europe and emerged as a global power. The USSR was the principal adversary of the US during the Cold War (1947-1991). The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the decades following Stalin's rule, until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 led to the dissolution of the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent states.
Following economic and political turmoil during President Boris YELTSIN's term (1991-99), Russia shifted toward a centralized authoritarian state under President Vladimir PUTIN (2000-2008, 2012-present) in which the regime seeks to legitimize its rule through managed elections, populist appeals, a foreign policy focused on enhancing the country's geopolitical influence, and commodity-based economic growth.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula as well as large portions of two eastern Ukrainian oblasts. In desultory fighting over the next eight years, more than 14,000 civilians were killed or wounded as a result of the Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, Russia escalated its conflict with Ukraine by invading the country on several fronts in what has become the largest conventional military attack on a sovereign state in Europe since World War II. The invasion has received near universal international condemnation, and many countries have imposed sanctions on Russia and supplied humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Russia made substantial gains in the early weeks of the invasion but underestimated Ukrainian resolve and combat capabilities. By the end of 2022, Ukrainian forces had regained all territories in the north and northeast of their country and made some advances in the east and south. Nonetheless, Russia in late September 2022 unilaterally declared its annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts - Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia - even though none was fully under Russian control. The annexations remain unrecognized by the international community.
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NOTE: The information regarding Russia on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Russia 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Russia 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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