Here’s some background information about Russia. The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-ninth of the earth’s land area.
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 17 million sq km (1.8 times the size of the United States)
Population: 142,320,790 (July 2021 est.)
Median age: 40.3 years
Ethnic groups: Russian 77.7%, Tatar 3.7%, Ukrainian 1.4%, Bashkir 1.1%, Chuvash 1%, Chechen 1%, other 10.2%, unspecified 3.9% (2010 est., most recent available)
Religion: Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)
Unemployment: 4.6% (2019 est.)
One of the top producers of natural gas and oil in the world.
The legislative body, the Federal Assembly, is made up of the lower house, the State Duma, and the upper house, the Federation Council.
Russia spans nine time zones.
Contains one-fourth of the world’s fresh water.
1613 – Mikhail Romanov’s coronation establishes the Romanov dynasty, which lasts for more than 300 years.
1917 – The Bolshevik Revolution begins. The new government formed eventually becomes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a communist country.
July 1918 – Tsar Nicolas II and the royal family are executed by the Bolsheviks, in Yekatrinburg, Russia.
January 21, 1924 – Vladimir Lenin, founder and first leader of the USSR, dies. He is replaced by dictator Joseph Stalin, who leads until his death in 1953.
1939-1945 – Helps the Allied Powers defeat Nazi Germany during World War II. Other Allies include the United States, Great Britain, France and China.
1955 – The Warsaw Pact is organized, creating a military alliance of communist nations in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
October 4, 1957 – The Soviet Union launches Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, which starts the “space race” between the Soviets and the United States.
April 12, 1961 – Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to go to space.
October 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: During one of the most dangerous confrontations of the “Cold War” between the communist Eastern Bloc countries and the West, the Soviet Union installs nuclear missiles on Cuba capable of reaching most of the United States. US President John F. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba, and six days later, the Soviets agree to remove the missiles.
December 1979 – The USSR invades Afghanistan. The last troops leave in 1989.
March 11, 1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected general secretary of the Communist Party. During his time as leader of the USSR, he advocates political and social reforms called “perestroika” (restructuring) and “glasnost” (openness), and participates in a series of summit meetings with US President Ronald Reagan.
June 1991 – Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Russian Republic, the largest of the Soviet republics, in the first democratic presidential election in Russian history.
August 1991 – Yeltsin helps put down a coup against Soviet President Gorbachev.
December 19, 1991 – Yeltsin issues a decree ordering the Russian government to seize the Kremlin from the USSR.
December 21, 1991 – Eleven of the 12 Soviet republics sign an agreement to form the Commonwealth of Independent States.
December 25, 1991 – Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin is now the leader of the new Russian state after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union.
September 21, 1993 – Yeltsin disbands parliament. Lawmakers vote to impeach Yeltsin and elect Alexander Rutskoi as acting president.
October 4, 1993 – Troops loyal to Yeltsin surround and attack the parliament.
December 11, 1993 – The first parliamentary elections are held under the new constitution with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia receiving 24% of the vote.
December 11, 1994 – Invasion of Chechnya.
July 30, 1995 – Russia calls a truce with Chechen separatists.
July 3, 1996 – Yeltsin defeats challenger Gennady Zyuganov in the presidential election by 14%.
August 9, 1996 – Chechen separatists capture the capital of Grozny.
May 12, 1997 – Russia signs a peace treaty with Chechen separatists.
September 23, 1999 – Russia initiates a bombing campaign against Chechen separatists.
March 26, 2000 – Putin is formally elected president of the Russian Federation, winning 53% of the vote over Communist party leader Zyuganov.
May 7, 2000 – Putin is sworn in as president.
August 12, 2000 – The Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sinks in Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board.
October 23-26, 2002 – Chechen separatists seize a Moscow theater and take 850 people hostage. Russian special forces pump fentanyl into the theater and then storm the building, killing 50 terrorists and 129 hostages.
March 2003 – Russia opposes the US-led invasion of Iraq.
December 7, 2003 – Putin’s party, United Russia, wins majority in the State Duma.
March 14, 2004 – Putin is re-elected for a second term as president with 71% of the vote.
September 1, 2004 – Chechen separatists take more than 1,000 people hostage at a school in Beslan.
July 14, 2007 – The International Olympic Committee selects Sochi, Russia, as the host for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
December 2, 2007 – United Russia wins the majority in the parliamentary election with 64.1% of the vote.
December 10, 2007 – Putin names Dmitry Medvedev his successor as president.
March 2, 2008 – Medvedev wins the presidential election with 70.28% of the vote.
May 7, 2008 – Medvedev is inaugurated as president; Putin is named prime minister.
August 8, 2008 – Russia invades Georgia after clashes in South Ossetia.
October 6, 2008 – The Russian stock market plunges 19.1%.
October 13, 2008 – Medvedev signs into law a $37 billion aid package for banks to shore up the Russian economy, affected by the world economic downturn.
November 21, 2008 – The State Duma increases the presidential term to six years by a vote of 392-57.
June-August 2010 – Russia experiences the worst heat wave on its record, causing 15,000 deaths and destroying 25% of the grain crop.
December 4, 2011 – Parliamentary elections take place. United Russia, Putin’s ruling party, suffers big losses in the election, but retains its parliamentary majority. The official election results are 238 seats for United Russia, 92 seats for the Communists, 64 seats for Fair Russia and 56 seats for the Liberal Democrats.
December 10, 2011 – Tens of thousands of Russians gather in Moscow to protest what they believe were parliamentary elections rigged in favor of United Russia, Putin’s party.
March 4, 2012 – Russia’s presidential elections are held amid complaints of fraud. Putin faces off against Gennady Zyuganov, Mikhail Prokhorov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov.
March 5, 2012 – Putin wins the election.
May 7, 2012 – Putin is sworn in under tight security amid protests of fraud. His new prime minister is former President Dmitry Medvedev.
December 28, 2012 – Putin signs an anti-US adoption bill.
October 21, 2013 – A suicide bomb destroys a bus in Volgograd, killing six and injuring 33. The bomber is believed to be a woman.
December 29, 2013 – A female suicide bomber detonates a device in Volgograd. Eighteen people die and 34 are injured in the blast inside a train station.
December 30, 2013 – Less than 24 hours after a suicide bomb explodes in a Volgograd train station, another one disrupts rush hour traffic in the same city. Sixteen people are killed and more than 30 are injured when a blast rips through a bus near a busy market.
March 1, 2014 – The upper house of the Russian parliament votes to send troops into Crimea in Ukraine.
March 15, 2014 – Russia wields its veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council against a US draft resolution declaring the upcoming Crimea referendum invalid. Thirteen of the 15 Security Council members back the resolution, while China abstains.
March 16, 2014 – In the Crimean referendum, 96.7% vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and being annexed by Russia.
March 17, 2014 – US and European Union officials announce sanctions on more than two dozen Russian officials and their allies in Crimea. In Moscow, Putin signs a decree that recognizes the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Crimea.
March 18, 2014 – Putin signs an annexation pact with the prime minister of Crimea and the mayor of the city of Sevastopol. In an address before a joint session of Russia’s Parliament, Putin calls Crimea “an inalienable part of Russia.”
July 29, 2014 – The United States and the European Union enact major sanctions against significant areas of the Russian economy including financial institutions and oil and arms manufacturers.
July-December 2014 – A combination of rapidly falling oil prices, economic sanctions and a decline in the value of the ruble leads to a Russian financial crisis.
November 13, 2015 – Russia is provisionally suspended as a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in response to doping allegations.
October 14, 2016 – The US administration, for the first time, officially accuses Russia of hacking into US political systems, saying it is “confident” that Russia was behind recent hackings of emails about upcoming US elections in an attempt to interfere with the process.
December 29, 2016 – US President Barack Obama takes unprecedented steps to retaliate against alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, sanctioning nine Russian entities and individuals and ordering 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country. Two Russian compounds in the United States are to be closed.
April 3, 2017 – At least 14 people are killed and 51 are injured when an explosion rocks a St. Petersburg metro train traveling between stations. Medvedev describes the attack as a “terrorist act.” Authorities say the blast was set off by a suicide bomber, a Russian citizen from Kyrgyzstan.
July 26, 2017 – US Congress passes a bill calling for new sanctions against Russia. The legislation, approved by Trump, is in response to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and military operations in eastern Ukraine, and aggression in Syria. Moscow responds by expelling 755 US embassy staff members and seizing two properties from US missions in the country — all but crushing any hope for the reset in US-Russian relations that Trump and Putin had called for. Trump signs the bill into law one week later.
December 5, 2017 – The IOC announces that Russia is banned from participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics due to a lengthy doping investigation. Clean athletes will be allowed to participate under the generic Olympic flag.
March 12, 2018 – British Prime Minister Theresa May says that Russia is “highly likely” responsible for the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. The pair are hospitalized in critical condition after being exposed to what British police believe was a military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok.
March 14, 2018 – May gives 23 Russian diplomats — whom she describes as undeclared intelligence officers — one week to leave British soil, after concluding that the Russian state is responsible for the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter. On March 17, Moscow retaliates by sending the same number of UK diplomats back, and by shuttering British cultural institutions in Russia.
March 15, 2018 – The Trump administration announces it is enacting new sanctions on Russia, including individuals indicted in February by special counsel Robert Mueller, in a sweeping new effort to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 US election. In enacting the sanctions, the administration is finally meeting a congressional mandate to impose measures punishing Moscow for its cyber intrusion.
March 18, 2018 – Putin is re-elected as president, with 76.7% of the vote, according to Central Election Commission data.
March 26, 2018 – Trump orders the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the United States identified as intelligence agents and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. The United States joins more than 20 countries — including more than 18 European Union states and Canada — to kick out diplomats in a coordinated effort that represents a significant diplomatic victory for the UK, which blames Russia in the March 4 poisoning of former spy Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in England.
March 29, 2018 – In retaliation to Trump’s expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announces that Russia will expel 60 US diplomats and close the US consulate in St. Petersburg.
August, 8, 2018 – In response to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, the US State Department announces that the Trump Administration will impose more sanctions on Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
September 11, 2018 – Russia kicks off what it says are the country’s largest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union, with at least 300,000 troops, 36,000 vehicles and 1,000 aircraft taking part. Thousands of Chinese and Mongolian troops are set to join the exercises, which start on the day Russia hosts a bilateral meeting between Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia.
November 25, 2018 – The Ukrainian military says Russian boats opened fire on and seized three of the country’s ships near Crimea.
February 2, 2019 – Putin signs law suspending Russia’s participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
March 18, 2019 – Putin signs two laws establishing fines for individuals who disseminate fake news. Critics say the ban is censorship.
August 1, 2019 – Trump signs an executive order sanctioning Russia in response to the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter.
September 7, 2019 – Ukrainian and Russian media report that 70 individuals have been released in a long-awaited prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, a move that is meant to ease tensions between the two countries.
September 9, 2019 – CNN reports that the United States successfully extracted one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government. The removal was driven by concerns that Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence.
October 22, 2019 – Putin meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi and the men announce a wide-ranging agreement on Syria, saying that Russian and Turkish troops will patrol the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurdish forces have about six days to retreat about 20 miles away from the border.
November 1, 2019 – A law takes effect mandating the creation of an independent internet for Russia. The law, signed by Putin in May, establishes rules to create a national network that can operate independently from the rest of the world. The law allows Russia’s telecoms agency to close the country off from external traffic.
December 9, 2019 – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) unanimously agrees to ban Russia from major international sporting competitions — notably the Olympics and the World Cup — for four years over doping non-compliance.
January 15, 2020 – The entire Russian government resigns after Putin proposes constitutional amendments that would strengthen the powers of the prime minister and parliament at the expense of the presidency.
August 15, 2020 – According to Russian state news agency TASS, Russia begins production on the coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik-V. The vaccine is developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute with funding from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The vaccine was approved for public use before completion of Phase 3 trials, which usually precedes approval.