Russia Issues - 2023


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Disputes - international

Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries

Russia-China: Russia and China have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with the 2004 Agreement, ending their centuries-long border disputes

Russia-Denmark-Norway: Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission

Russia and Estonia: Russia and Estonia signed a technical border agreement in May 2005, but Russia recalled its signature in June 2005 after the Estonian parliament added to its domestic ratification act a historical preamble referencing the Soviet occupation and Estonia's pre-war borders under the 1920 Treaty of Tartu; Russia contends that the preamble allows Estonia to make territorial claims on Russia in the future, while Estonian officials deny that the preamble has any legal impact on the treaty text; negotiations were reopened in 2012, and a treaty was signed in 2014 without the disputed preamble, but neither country has ratified it as of 2020

Russia-Finland: various groups in Finland advocate restoration of Karelia (Kareliya) and other areas ceded to the Soviet Union following World War II but the Finnish Government asserts no territorial demands

Russia-Georgia: Russia's military support and subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence in 2008 continue to sour relations with Georgia; in 2011, Russia began to put up fences and barbed wire to fortify South Ossetia, physically dividing villages in the process; Russia continues to move the South Ossetia border fences further into Georgian territory

Russia-Japan: the sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kurils," occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities

Russia-Kazakhstan: Russia boundary delimitation was ratified on November 2005; field demarcation commenced in 2007 and was expected to be completed by 2013

Russia-Lithuania: Russia and Lithuania committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999; border demarcation was completed in 2018; Lithuania operates a simplified transit regime for Russian nationals traveling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as an EU member state with an EU external border, where strict Schengen border rules apply

Russia-North Korea: none identified

Russia-Norway: Russia and Norway signed a comprehensive maritime boundary agreement in 2010, opening the disputed territory for oil and natural gas exploration; a visa-free travel agreement for persons living near the border went into effect in May 2012

Russia-Ukraine: Russia remains involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine while also occupying Ukraine’s territory of Crimea; preparations for the demarcation delimitation of land boundary with Ukraine have commenced; the dispute over the boundary between Russia and Ukraine through the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov is suspended due to the occupation of Crimea by Russia

Russia-US: Russian Duma has not yet ratified 1990 Bering Sea Maritime Boundary Agreement with the US; the southwesterly "Western Limit" places about 70% of the Bering Sea under U.S. maritime jurisdiction

Russia-various: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea


Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 2,852,395 (Ukraine) (as of 3 October 2022)

stateless persons: 56,960 (mid-year 2021); note - Russia's stateless population consists of Roma, Meskhetian Turks, and ex-Soviet citizens from the former republics; between 2003 and 2010 more than 600,000 stateless people were naturalized; most Meskhetian Turks, followers of Islam with origins in Georgia, fled or were evacuated from Uzbekistan after a 1989 pogrom and have lived in Russia for more than the required five-year residency period; they continue to be denied registration for citizenship and basic rights by local Krasnodar Krai authorities on the grounds that they are temporary illegal migrants

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Russia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, is not making significant efforts to do, and remained on Tier 3; the government took some steps to address trafficking by prosecuting and convicting more traffickers, extending work and residence permits for foreign workers in response to the pandemic, and facilitating the return of Russian children from Iraq and Syria; however, there was a government policy or pattern of trafficking, including forced labor of North Korean workers; officials did not identify any trafficking victims and efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers remained weak; authorities penalized potential victims and prosecuted sex trafficking victims for crimes without screening for signs of trafficking; the government offered no funding or programs to provide services for trafficking victims and took steps to limit or ban such action by civil society groups; no national anti-trafficking strategy has been drafted, and government agencies have not been assigned roles or responsibilities; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 created significant risks of trafficking for the millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine (2022)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Russia, and Russians abroad; although labor trafficking is the predominant problem, sex trafficking also occurs; victims from Russia and other countries in Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China, and North Korea are subjected to forced labor in Russia’s construction, manufacturing, agriculture, maritime, grocery and retail store, restaurant, and domestic services industries, as well as forced begging and drug manufacturing and trafficking; the government increased the use of convict labor to offset a shortage of labor migrants; Russian women and children were reported to be victims of sex trafficking in Russia, Northeast Asia, Europe, Central Asia, Africa, the United States, and the Middle East; Russian-led forces in Syria reportedly recruit Syrian children to fight in Libya, and Russian-led forces in Ukraine reportedly forcibly conscript adults to fight against their country and recruit children for fighting or support roles in eastern Ukraine; Ukrainians forcibly displaced to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, and Ukrainians in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, are highly vulnerable to trafficking (2022)

Illicit drugs

a destination country for heroin and other Afghan opiates; a transit country for cocaine from South America, especially Ecuador to Europe, Belgium and Netherlands; synthetic drugs are produced in clandestine drug laboratories throughout the country; marijuana cultivated in Russian Far East and the North Caucasus; the majority of hashish is smuggled in from Northern Africa


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.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.