Timeline of US-Russia Relations (1983-2021)

Below is an evolving timeline of key events shaping the U.S.-Russia relationship along with hyperlinks to resources with more detailed information. This chronology has been compiled by Mari Dugas and RM staff Nini Arshakuni, Angelina Flood, Simon Saradzhyan, Aleksandra Srdanovic and Natasha Yefimova-Trilling. First published February 2018; last updated Dec. 17, 2021.

March 1983

U.S. President Ronald Reagan calls the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire in a public address and announces the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as “Star Wars.”

September 1983

Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.

November 1983

U.S. and NATO hold Able Archer command post exercise amid Soviets’ increasing concerns that a surprise nuclear strike by U.S./NATO could be in the works.

March 1985

Soviet Politburo elects Mikhail Gorbachev as Communist Party General Secretary.

Gorbachev launches campaign of glasnost and perestroika, and reaches out to the West.

November 1985

1st Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Geneva.

  • SDI is discussed, but no agreement is reached.

April 1986

Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurs in Ukrainian SSR.

October 1986

2nd Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Reykjavík.

  • The two almost agree to eliminate all nuclear weapons, but negotiations eventually stall over SDI.

June 1987

Reagan delivers his “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this [Berlin] wall” speech.

December 1987

3rd Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Washington, D.C.

  • Reagan and Gorbachev sign the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
  • Time magazine names Gorbachev man of the decade.


Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

May 1988

4th and final Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Moscow.

  • Gorbachev hopes to use the summit as an opportunity to agree to the START Treaty, but Reagan is not interested in further arms control agreements.

May 1988- February 1989

Soviet combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

November 1988

Estonia becomes first Soviet republic to declare sovereignty.

December 1988

In a speech at the United Nations, Gorbachev announces that the USSR will begin to withdraw Soviet forces from Eastern Europe.

April 1989

Anti-government demonstrations in Soviet Georgia are dispersed by Soviet Army, leaving 20 dead.

May-November 1989

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe:

  • More Soviet republics declare sovereignty.
  • In May, Hungary begins dismantling its 150-mile border fence with Austria.
  • Poland's electorate votes the Communists out of government in June, and Gorbachev subsequently announces that the Soviet Union will not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries.
  • Latvia declares sovereignty in July, followed by Azerbaijan in September.
  • By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia follow Poland's example and, on Nov. 9, the East German government opens the Berlin Wall.
  • In November, Soviet Georgia declares sovereignty.

December 1989

1st summit between President George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev in Malta “officially” ends Cold War.

February 1990

Discussions on the reunification of Germany: In Ottawa, the four major World War II Allies (the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union), as well as the two Germanys, agree on a framework for negotiating the unification of Germany.

March 1990

Gorbachev elected president of the USSR.

June 1990

2nd Bush-Gorbachev summit in Washington, reunification of Germany discussed, but no agreements signed; the following day ethnic violence breaks out in the Soviet Kyrgyz republic (then Kirghizia, now Kyrgyzstan), leaving hundreds dead.

July 1990

3rd Bush-Gorbachev summit in Moscow, START I is signed.

September-October 1990

German reunification: U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze join the foreign ministers of France, Britain and the two Germanys to sign the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany. Reunification is completed by October.

December 1990

Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

January 1991

Crackdowns on independence movements in Latvia and Lithuania, which turn deadly.

February 1991

Warsaw Pact is disbanded.

August 1991

Putsch against Gorbachev; soon after the coup is rebuffed, four of the 15 Soviet republics—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia—officially leave the USSR.

September 1991

Bush announces initiatives on unilateral reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons.

October 1991

Gorbachev announces that the Soviet Union will not only reciprocate Bush’s initiatives on non-strategic nuclear weapons, but also proposes that the USSR and the United States eliminate entire categories of such weapons.

December 1991

Nunn-Lugar bill on cooperative nuclear threat reduction is signed by Bush into law, after being passed by the Senate in November.

December 1991

Dissolution of the Soviet Union: On Dec. 8, the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine declare that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist and proclaim a Commonwealth of Independent States. Eleven former Soviet republics join the CIS on Dec. 21. The resignation of Gorbachev on Dec. 25 formally ends the Soviet Union.

January-February 1992

Russian President Boris Yeltsin visits the U.S., meets Bush.

  • U.S. promises to promote future Russian admission to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, a major economic goal for Russia.
  • A joint proclamation is issued, stating that the U.S. and Russia don’t see each other as potential adversaries and are beginning a new era of “friendship and partnership.”

February-March 1992

The U.S. establishes diplomatic relations with Moldova on Feb. 18 and with Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on Feb. 19. On March 24, it extends diplomatic recognition to Georgia.

April 1992

Belarus announces the completion of the withdrawal to Russia of all tactical nuclear warheads deployed on Belarusian territory.

May 1992

By May, all tactical nuclear weapons are moved from Ukraine to Russia.

May 1992

On May 23, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine sign the Lisbon Protocol to the START I Treaty, becoming parties to the treaty as legal successors to the Soviet Union, with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine committing to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear states. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan all commit to eliminate all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from their territories. 

June 1992

Bush-Yeltsin summit in Washington:

  • Bush and Yeltsin agree to continue START process; set goal of reducing nuclear forces by 3,000-3,500 warheads by 2003.
  • The U.S. agrees to cut submarine-based nuclear weapons by half.
  • Yeltsin is initially very reluctant to negotiate this reduction, seeing it as benefitting the U.S. arsenal over Russia’s; a more attractive aid package is negotiated in order to sway Russia.
  • Bush had previously proposed that Moscow give up its land-based, multiple-warhead ballistic missiles. The Kremlin counters with a proposal for the two sides to reduce their arsenals to 2,500 warheads each, and to give up their land-based and sea-launched multiple-warhead missiles.
  • The U.S. pledges $4.5 billion in economic assistance to Russia.
  • The U.S. launches its Peace Corps volunteer program in Russia.
  • Both states declare bilateral support for U.N. operations in Bosnia.

June 1992

Bush and Yeltsin sign the umbrella Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) agreement.

July 1992

Yeltsin attends G7 meeting in Munich and meets privately with Bush. The G7 promises another $1 billion in aid to Russia but links it to economic reform. Yeltsin announces that Russia will soon begin to withdraw troops from the Baltics.

October 1992

Bush signs the Freedom Support Act, providing $4 billion in aid to Russia and eliminating some of the U.S. restrictions on trade that existed during the Cold War.

January 1993

Bush-Yeltsin summit in Moscow:

  • START II is signed.
  • In the first phase of START II, states have to reduce nuclear weapons to 3,800-4,250 warheads.
  • By the end of phase 2, neither is to have more than 3,000-3,500 warheads (to be completed by 2003).

April 1993

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Vancouver:

  • First meeting between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton; leaders declare a “new democratic partnership.”
  • The U.S. pledges $1.6 billion in additional aid to Russia in light of its economic stagnation (pre-approved by Congress).
  • The two leaders discuss START I and II; Ukraine is delaying the ratification of START I, and until it does so, Russia will not ratify START II.
October 1993

NATO summit proposes Partnership for Peace. 

  • U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher assures Yeltsin that the Partnership for Peace was about including Russia, not creating a new membership list of just some European countries for NATO; Yeltsin responds, “This is genius!”

January 1994

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

  • Clinton and Yeltsin agree that their countries’ strategic nuclear missiles will no longer target each other.
  • The U.S. will purchase $12 billion of low-enriched uranium from Russia over 20 years, after Russia converts it from highly enriched uranium.
  • Russia will participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.
  • Clinton and Yeltsin also agree that the sovereignty of former Soviet states should be respected, as well as rights of Russian speakers in the Baltics, though Yeltsin opposes any early accession of Central European countries to NATO.
  • Leaders of Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. agree that Ukraine will give up all nuclear weapons and sign the NPT; in exchange, the U.S. and Russia will negotiate security guarantees with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

NATO summit launches Partnership for Peace.

February 1994

First joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle mission launches on Feb. 3 with Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev on board the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.

March 1994

Russian troops leave Germany.

May 1994

Moscow Declaration implemented: The U.S. and Russia officially no longer aim nuclear weapons at each other.

September 1994

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Washington:

  • The Partnership for Economic Progress is created, opening new paths for bilateral trade and economic development.
  • No resolution is reached on Bosnian conflict or Iranian cooperation; Moscow states it will keep its existing contracts with Iran.
November 1994 Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Richard Holbrooke initiates a NATO study of the “how and why” of new members as part of efforts to speed up NATO expansion discussions.

December 1994

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is signed by Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, United States and the United Kingdom:

  • Involves assurances by the U.S., U.K. and Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. These assurances are a key factor in persuading Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

April 1995

Kazakhstan returns all nuclear warheads to Russia.

May 1995

Clinton visits Russia for WWII Victory Day:

  • Clinton and Yeltsin agree that START II should be ratified early.
  • Clinton urges Yeltsin to stop the war in Chechnya and comply with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty; by November 1995, the CFE treaty would require large withdrawal of weaponry from Chechnya.
  • Yeltsin proposes that Moscow build nuclear reactors in Iran; Clinton objects.

January 1996

The U.S. Senate ratifies the START II Treaty on Jan. 26.

April 1996

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

  • Both leaders agree to seek Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by September 1996 to fulfill Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation.
  • Modifications to the CFE Treaty are discussed, given Russia’s concerns over its provisions in regards to Chechnya.
  • Yeltsin objects again to NATO enlargement plans; Clinton promises there will be “no surprises.”

June 1996

The last nuclear warheads are transferred from Ukraine to Russia on June 1.

October 1996 Clinton calls for NATO’s enlargement into Warsaw Pact countries.

May 1997

NATO-Russia Founding Act:

  • Yeltsin and Clinton sign NATO-Russia cooperation pact, stating that the two sides no longer consider themselves adversaries.
  • NATO asserts that it will continue to expand.
  • NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council created to facilitate transparency and cooperation.
  • All parties agree to work toward a solution for the Bosnian conflict.

March 1997

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Helsinki:

  • Clinton and Yeltsin agree to start negotiations on a new arms reduction treaty that will span the next decade, but formal talks can happen only after Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, ratifies START II.
  • Clinton supports Russia’s accession to the G7, making it the G8.
  • Yeltsin notes that NATO expansion is inevitable, and Russia will just have to mitigate any negative consequences that stem from expansion.

June 1997

Russia admitted to G8.

September 1998

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

  • Each country will remove 50 metric tons of plutonium from their nuclear weapons programs; Clinton urges Duma to approve START II so the next round of START can begin.
  • Both leaders agree to implement the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons.
  • Yeltsin says Russia is against the use of force in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
  • Yeltsin states that Russia is not dependent on Western economic aid, but does welcome increased Western investment and continued aid from the U.S.
  • Despite disagreement over NATO enlargement, Russia will participate in upcoming NATO summit and says it has no plans to expand westward.

November 1998

Launch of International Space Station (ISS): The joint international project to establish a manned space station begins with launch of Russian-built control module on Nov. 20.

March-June 1999


Bombing of then-Yugoslavia over its actions in Kosovo and expansion of NATO leads to seriously strained relationship between U.S. and Russia by the end of the Clinton administration.

 March 1999

In fourth wave of NATO expansion since the alliance’s inception, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are admitted. (First wave was Greece and Turkey; second was West Germany; third was Spain.)

August 1999

Vladimir Putin is appointed prime minister of Russia.

December 1999

Yeltsin resigns; Putin becomes acting president.

March 2000

Putin is elected president of Russia.

June 2000

Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow:

  • In the first meeting between Clinton and Putin (in his role as president), Clinton disagrees with Putin’s harsh Chechnya policy.
  • Both agree to establish a data exchange to share early warning missile threat information, which would be the first case of joint U.S.-Russian major military cooperation, and to continue the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium.
  • Clinton addresses State Duma and sits for an interview with Ekho Moskvy, a liberal radio station.
  • Clinton again tries to propose a missile defense shield, but Putin rejects this.

July 2000

Clinton and Putin meet in Okinawa ahead of G8 summit and discuss a range of political and security issues. These include the recent Middle East peace initiative, the Iranian nuclear program, Chechnya, Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade and Clinton’s call for rule of law in Russia.

November 2000

First crew on manned ISS: A Russian Soyuz rocket delivers the first permanent resident crew to the ISS on Nov. 2. One American astronaut, Bill Shepherd, and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, remain in space until March 21, 2001.

July 2001

President George W. Bush and Putin meet at G8 summit:

  • Both agree to hold new talks on the reduction of nuclear weapons, in particular, to discuss the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
  • Putin and Bush announce a Russian-American business dialogue.
  • Putin expresses concern that the U.S. has not been consistent in its support of Russia’s WTO bid.

September 2001

Putin becomes first foreign leader to call Bush after 9/11 attacks.

January 2002

Mutual U.S.-Russian Legal Assistance Treaty signed. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov state that the U.S. and Russia will jointly fight crime and terrorism.

January 2002

The term "axis of evil" is used by Bush in his State of the Union address on Jan. 29.

May 2002

Treaty of Moscow signed on strategic offensive reductions:

  • The treaty reduces levels of operationally deployed warheads to 1,700-2,000 by 2012.       
  • It also gives Putin more clout on the international stage as a partner to the U.S.

May 2002

NATO-Russia Council summit:

  • Bush and Putin agree to create the NATO-Russia Council, which will work toward cooperation in areas of common interests, including nonproliferation and a joint peacekeeping force in Bosnia.

June 2002

The G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is established at Kananaskis, Canada. U.S. pledges $10 billion, and others another $10 billion over 10 years.

July 2002

U.S. withdraws from ABM Treaty signed in 1972.

  • The withdrawal is accompanied by a statement from Bush, saying the U.S. is committed to moving forward with missile defense programs.
  • In response, the Kremlin announces that it is no longer bound by START II, a treaty that had never entered into full force. However, Putin notes that Bush’s decision “does not threaten Russia's national security” and that “the existing level of bilateral relations must not only be preserved but used to work out a new framework of strategic relations as soon as possible.”

Nov 2002

Bush flies to St. Petersburg after a NATO summit in Prague to meet with Putin. Bush personally thanks Putin for his support on a recent U.N. resolution on Iraq. The two also discuss efforts against terrorism, NATO expansion, NATO-Russia cooperation, energy, technology and strategic stability, and they issue a joint statement on the development of a U.S.-Russian Energy Dialogue, offering support for closer governmental ties on energy issues and for closer commercial cooperation in this area.

March 2003

Russia opposes U.S.-led invasion of Iraq:

  • Putin calls the invasion an error in policy and intelligence and claims he had warned the U.S. about the 9/11 attacks two days prior to their occurrence.

April 2003

The Roadmap for Middle East Peace, developed by the U.S. in cooperation with Russia, the European Union and the United Nations (“the Quartet”), is presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

March 2004

Fifth wave of NATO expansion: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia admitted.

March 2004

Putin elected president for a second term.

February 2005

Bush-Putin summit in Bratislava:

  • Putin and Bush discuss nuclear security, particularly the possibility of nuclear terrorism.
  • Both agree to help countries processing uranium move to low-enriched fuel.
  • A new joint senior group on nuclear issues is created that will update the governments and work together on best practices, reactor conversion, enhancing nuclear security and bettering emergency response systems on both sides.
  • The U.S. and Russia also agree to work toward Russian membership in the WTO.

July 2006

Bush and Putin establish the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism at St. Petersburg G8 summit:

  • The joint initiative increases nuclear facility security and work against nuclear terrorism incidents.
  • Thirteen countries join initially. By 2016, 86 are party to the treaty.

March 2007

Russia opposes U.S. plans to build missile defense shield in Poland:

  • Russia responds by threatening to withdraw from the INF Treaty.

July 2007

Russia formally notifies NATO member states of its intention to suspend participation in the CFE Treaty at the end of the year, largely in protest of the U.S. missile-defense plans in Eastern Europe.

April 2008

NATO summit in Bucharest:

  • Putin personally attends to avert granting of Membership Action Plans (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine. Although the plans are ultimately blocked by Germany, the U.S. and many NATO allies agree that Georgia and Ukraine will one day be NATO members. However, no action plan is extended to these countries.
  • NATO members invite Albania and Croatia to join, and agree that expansion should continue.

March 2008

Dmitry Medvedev is elected president of Russia with Putin’s blessing.

May 2008

Putin’s presidency ends and he becomes prime minister under Medvedev.

August 2008

U.S. and Poland agree to 10 two-stage missile interceptors on Polish territory.

  • Russia responds that it will increase its Western border defenses and place short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave.

August 2008




Russo-Georgian war:

  • Russia claims its citizens and Russian-speaking compatriots were being targeted in South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Georgian forces; Georgia claims Russian peacekeeping troops were targeting Georgian civilians and planning to invade Georgia.
  • Russia and Georgia mobilize and fight a five-day war over the two separatist provinces, ending in a stalemate and internationally negotiated treaty.
  • The U.S. supported Georgia throughout the war and condemned Russia’s actions, although Bush called on President Mikhail Saakashvili to stand down.
  • The U.N. reports after the war that human rights violations were committed on both sides.

April 2009

 Sixth wave of NATO expansion: Albania and Croatia admitted.

July 2009

Reset” in relations:

  • After conflict in Georgia, U.S. President Barack Obama calls for the U.S. and Russia to reset relations and renew cooperation to address nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

September 2009

On Sept. 17, Obama announces the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense in Europe, with stated purpose of countering threat posed by Iranian short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

April 2010

Medvedev-Obama Prague summit:

  • The U.S. and Russia sign New START after START treaties expired in December 2009.
  • Treaty cuts deployed strategic warheads by 30 percent, down to 1,550.
  • ICBMs and SLBMs are limited to 700.

June 2010

The U.S. and Russia cooperate on tightening sanctions on Iran over nuclear program.

June 2010

The U.S. announces it has arrested 10 Russian spies living in America.

  • Putin is highly critical, though says he doesn’t want this to hamper the reset in relations.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry says arrests are an “unjustified throwback to the Cold War.”

January 2011

U.S. and Russia bring into force the 123 Agreement on nuclear cooperation.

March 2011 Russia abstains on UNSR on no-fly zone on Libya. Putin then criticizes abstention as Gadhafi is removed from power and killed.

October 2011

Russia vetoes a U.S.-backed U.N. resolution condemning the Assad regime in Syria.

  • Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin claims that Syria needs a gradual and apolitical approach, as opposed to the options the U.S. has proposed.
  • His U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, affirms that a resolution condemning the human rights abuses will not lead to military action in Syria.

Fall 2011

Massive protests in Moscow after allegations of rigged Duma elections. Putin blames the U.S. and accuses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of personally interfering.

March 2012

Putin is elected to third presidential term, which will end in 2018.

  • Thousands protest Putin’s reelection, citing widespread election fraud.

August 2012

Russia joins the WTO.

September 2012

USAID is expelled from Russia.

December 2012

Congress passes the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on a group of Russian officials and repeals the effects of the Jackson–Vanik amendment on Russia and Moldova.

June 2013

U.S. citizen Edward Snowden arrives in Russia, after exposing NSA domestic surveillance program.

July 2013

Russia, which does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S., grants asylum to Snowden.

September 2013

 G20 summit in St. Petersburg:

  • Russian and other world leaders pressure Obama not to intervene militarily in Syria, marking an ongoing rift between the U.S. and Russia over how to deal with Syria’s civil war.
  • Putin gives Obama a plan on Syria, later agreed to by Assad, to remove all of the chemical weapons from the country.

February 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych flees the country after mass protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square urging him to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, which had started the previous fall.

March 2014

Following the ouster of Yanukovych, Russia annexes Crimea. The U.S. and EU impose two rounds of sanctions in March-April, targeting primarily Russian individuals and companies involved in the annexation, and they suspend Russia’s membership in the G8.

April 2014

Fighting begins in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

  • The conflict has continued through 2018, despite numerous ceasefires and internationally mediated meetings between Ukraine and Russia.

July 2014

  • Sectoral sanctions (third round) are imposed on Russia by the EU and U.S. over Ukraine.
  • Separately, the U.S. accuses Russia of violating the INF Treaty by testing and deploying a new cruise missile system (identified by U.S. sources as SSC-8). The State Department would renew the complaint each subsequent year through 2017. Russia in turn would accuse the U.S. of violating the treaty by deploying an MK41VLS launcher capable of launching cruise missiles as part of the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Romania.

August 2014

Russia counter-sanctions the U.S. and EU countries, banning imports of agricultural products.

February 2015

Minsk II Accord signed, laying out principles to end the conflict in Ukraine.

March 2015

Moscow stops taking part in the Joint Consultative Group on the CFE Treaty, effectively withdrawing from the 1990 arms-control pact.

September 2015

Russia begins its air campaign in Syria.

November 2015

Obama and Putin discuss Syria during the G20 summit in Turkey, agree to a U.N. framework for a ceasefire and eventual peaceful transition in Syria.

March 2016

Russia refuses to attend the final Nuclear Security Summit.

September 2016

Russia and the U.S. announce joint peace plan for Syria. After meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announce that the two countries have agreed on the provisions of a peace plan for Syria, but implementation of the agreement stalls.

September-October 2016

Russia suspends the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Disposition Agreement, concerning the management and disposal of plutonium. Terms set forth by Moscow for resuming cooperation include the repeal of and compensation for U.S. sanctions and a rollback of U.S. forces in NATO member states admitted after Sept. 1, 2000. The Russian government then also suspends a 2013 agreement with the U.S. on nuclear energy research and development and terminates another, signed in 2010, on cooperation on the conversion of Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel.

November 2016

Businessman and TV personality Donald Trump elected U.S. president with an exceptionally pro-Russia stance in his campaign.

December 2016

  • U.S. intelligence organizations say they have information confirming that Russian hackers intervened in the U.S. election in an effort to sway it in favor of Donald Trump, the president-elect.
  • Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats.

January 2017

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases a declassified version of the Intelligence Community’s assessment that “Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election”; that “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency”; and that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

March-May 2017


After Trump fires FBI director James Comey, his predecessor Robert Mueller is officially appointed special counsel with the purpose of investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and … any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Meanwhile, several congressional committees pursue their own investigations.

June 2017 Montenegro enters NATO.

July 2017

G20 summit in Hamburg:

  • Donald Trump holds first face-to-face meeting as president with Putin, in which he asks the Russian leader about election hacking and concludes that it’s “time to move forward” on the issue.
  • The two leaders are able to reach an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, to be monitored by Russian military police in coordination with the U.S. and Jordan.
  • The meeting also yields the announcement of a new U.S. special envoy for Ukraine who would have a special communication channel with a Russian counterpart. 

August 2017


  • Trump signs a bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress that imposes new sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and alleged election interference. At the same time, Trump calls the bill “seriously flawed” because it limits his ability to negotiate with Moscow.
  • In the period leading up to and following the signing of the sanctions bill, Moscow and Washington exchange in a tit-for-tat with Russia ordering that U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia be cut by 755 employees and the U.S. ordering the closure of Russia’s diplomatic headquarters in San Francisco.

November 2017

After briefly meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam, Trump says the Russian leader again denied interfering in the U.S. election, and Trump says he believes him. The two leaders also announce agreement on a deconfliction plan in Syria and the broad outlines for a peace process in the war-torn country.

December 2017


  • Trump presents his National Security Strategy, which warns that China and Russia “challenge American power, influence and interests” and “are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” In a speech announcing the strategy, Trump refrains from directly criticizing Russia and instead speaks positively of a phone call from Putin a few days earlier in which the Russian president credited the CIA with helping to avert a terror attack in St. Petersburg.
  • Separately, the Trump administration approves the limited sale of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, a move reportedly backed by the secretaries of defense and state, but not welcomed by Moscow. 
January 2018
  • The U.S. Treasury publishes a list of 210 people allegedly close to Vladimir Putin who may be designated for sanctions in the future. The list includes all members of the Russian Cabinet and presidential administration, other senior officials, the heads of state-run firms and 96 of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen.
  • The newly released 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy says the U.S. must prepare to wage a great-power competition with China and Russia. The document highlights Russian actions to undermine democratic processes in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine, as well as Moscow’s efforts to “shatter” NATO.
  • Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, and Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB, visit the U.S. to meet with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and discuss counterterrorism issues. Naryshkin also meets with U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
  • Trump names Russia and China as rivals of the U.S. in his State of the Union address.

February 2018


  • The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review states that the world has seen “the return of Great Power competition” and puts Russia at the core of U.S. nuclear strategy. The new document gives short shrift to arms control and diplomacy, but calls for two new systems—lower-yield nuclear weapons deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles—to create “credible deterrence against regional aggression.” As part of its rationale the document cites Russia’s recent statements on its nuclear posture and the Kremlin’s reported belief that “limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons,” would give Russia a strategic advantage.
  • The U.S. and Russia both declare that they have met the Feb. 5 deadline for compliance with the New START treaty, with Moscow and Washington posting their respective numbers of warheads and delivery systems.
  • Robert Mueller unveils an indictment of 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by creating fake online personas to help Trump’s presidential campaign and hurt Clinton’s.
  • In Syria, U.S. forces clash with Russian mercenaries allegedly working for an opaque private military firm (with reported links to the Kremlin and Defense Ministry via entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin); the precise number of Russian casualties is unknown, but early reports put the figure as high as 300 killed and injured, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who headed the CIA at the time of the fighting, later told Congress that “a couple of hundred” Russians were killed.
  • The U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment reiterates U.S. allegations that Russia has developed a ground-launched cruise missile that Washington believes to be in violation of the INF Treaty.
  • The White House accuses “the Russian military” of launching the devastating June 2017 cyberattack known as NotPetya, which caused billions of dollars in damage worldwide.
March 2018
  • In his address to parliament, Putin gives a litany of new long-range attack systems being developed by Russia’s defense industry, including: the Avangard strategic missile system; a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system; the Sarmat multiple-warhead ICBM, equipped with nuclear warheads, including hypersonic warheads; a miniature nuclear propulsion unit that can be installed on Russia’s air-to-surface Kh-101 missiles; and a high-speed underwater drone tested in 2017 with an "intercontinental" range and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities.
    • The U.S. responds by accusing Russia of developing destabilizing weapons systems in direct violation of its treaty obligations and of failing to exhibit “the behavior of a responsible international player.”
  • The United States imposes sanctions on five Russian entities and 19 Russian nationals, including Yevgeny Prigozhin and 12 others indicted in Robert Mueller’s investigation; the entities include Russia’s Federal Security Service, its military intelligence directorate and the Internet Research Agency, commonly known as the Russian “troll factory.”
  • A former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter are poisoned in England in a nerve-agent attack allegedly approved by the Russian state. In its initial response the Trump administration expels 60 Russian diplomats; the Kremlin expels 60 American diplomats from Russia in retaliation.
  • Foreign-policy hawk John Bolton is named Trump’s new national security adviser.
  • The House Intelligence Committee votes to approve a Republican-authored report saying there is no evidence of collusion between the Kremlin and Trump or his affiliates during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, ending the committee’s Russia probe.
  • Putin is re-elected to a fourth term as president.
  • Newly declassified documents show that in 1993 the U.S. State Department envisioned Russia being admitted to NATO in 2005.
April 2018
  • The U.S. issues new sanctions under CAATSA and earlier executive orders against Russian oligarchs, including Oleg Deripaska, Suleiman Kerimov, Viktor Vekselberg, Alexei Miller and Vladimir Bogdanov.
May 2018
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee says it sees no reason to dispute the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
June 2018
  • The U.S. issues new sanctions against a handful of Russian companies and nationals—including Digital Security, ERPScan, Divetechnoservices and Divetechnoservices-connected individuals Alexander Tribun, Oleg Chirikov and Vladimir Kaganskiy—for cyberattacks on U.S. energy and other interests.
July 2018
  • The Justice Department secures an indictment against 12 members of Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, for hacking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as well as conspiring to hack into state election systems and other entities. The Justice Department also charges a Russian national, Maria Butina, with conspiring against the U.S. as an unregistered agent for the Russian government.
  • Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki, Finland. Putin and Trump both hail the meeting as a success.
    • The meeting establishes separate working groups of business leaders and foreign-policy experts, and follow-up meetings between the national security council staffs of both countries.
    • The Russian delegation passes a proposal to its U.S. counterparts for the two countries to reaffirm their commitment to New START, the INF Treaty, the Vienna document and the Open Skies treaty.
    • The longest encounter between the two presidents to date, lasting over two hours, included no other officials or notetakers, just interpreters.
August 2018
  • The United States imposes a ban on arms sales, arms-sales financing, U.S. government credit or other financial assistance, exports of national-security-sensitive goods and most foreign assistance to Russia under the terms of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
  • The U.S. State Department imposes fresh sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, with a second tranche of sanctions to be activated after 90 days.
September 2018
  • In the 60th sanctions package since 2011, the U.S. blacklists 33 Russian nationals and three entities.
  • Russia holds its Vostok-2018 military exercises with China participating for the first time directly in the exercise itself.
October 2018
  • Trump announces his intention to have the United States pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
  • John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, visits Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, and other senior officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
  • U.S. Justice Department officials announce charges against seven officers of Russia's GRU (including three who had been indicted for election interference) in connection with the leaking of athletes' drug-test data and efforts to steal information from organizations probing Russia's alleged use of chemical weapons, including the Skripal poisoning.
November 2018
  • U.S. Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, reportedly blocked internet access to the Russian Internet Research Agency during congressional mid-term elections, in what unnamed sources called the first offensive cyber-campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election.
  • Putin and Trump speak during a leaders' luncheon in Paris marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but do not have a formal meeting (reportedly at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron). At the time Trump and Putin were expected to meet at the G20 summit in Argentina later in the month.
  • Trump cancels his scheduled G20 meeting with Putin at the last minute, citing Russia’s capture of Ukrainian ships and crew off Crimea.
December 2018
  • The U.S. says it will withdraw from the INF Treaty if Russia does not return to compliance within 60 days.
  • Trump announces that he is pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, declaring the Islamic State defeated. However, his administration is then reported to have revised the withdrawal timeline amid concerns from allies and military leaders.
January 2019
  • Trump unveils the new Missile Defense Review (MDR), saying that Washington’s goal is “to ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against us, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.”  The document says “the United States relies on deterrence to protect against large and technically sophisticated Russian and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile threats to the U.S. homeland.”
  • The U.S. National Intelligence Strategy says Russia's efforts to expand its influence and the modernization of China's military are among the "ever more diverse" threats facing the United States.
  • The U.S. Intelligence Community releases the new Worldwide Threat Assessment, describing Russia as a major threat to U.S. interests not just in its own right but particularly in tandem with China—a pairing mentioned about twice as often as in the previous year’s assessment.
  • Former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan is detained in Russia on charges of espionage, which he denies.
February 2019
  • The United States suspends its obligations under the INF Treaty, with plans to formally withdraw in six months if Russia does not return to compliance. In response, Russia also suspends its involvement in the treaty. Later in the month, Putin tells parliament that Russia does not intend to be the first to deploy INF-range missiles in Europe, but would have to target the U.S. if it deploys weapons that Russia sees as a direct threat.  
  • In his state-of-the-nation address Putin says Russia does not want confrontation with the U.S., but accuses Washington of ignoring Russia's "legitimate interests" and of organizing "anti-Russian activities."
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses Russia of "grand designs of dominating Europe” and the U.S. ambassador to Poland says Washington plans to significantly increase its troop numbers in the country.
  • Russia detains investor Michael Calvey on embezzlement charges, which he denies, linking them to a dispute with a Russian bank.
  • Russia sentences two cybersecurity experts, including an FSB colonel whose work had officially included liaising with U.S. cyber-crime investigators, to lengthy prison terms for passing classified information to Western intelligence agencies.
March 2019
  • The U.S. sanctions six Russian individuals and eight entities for involvement in the November 2018 attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait and other Ukraine-related actions.
  • A summary of the Mueller report released by the U.S. attorney general says the special counsel investigation found no evidence that Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference; while the “report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” according to the summary.

April 2019

  • The U.S. halts deliveries to Turkey related to the F-35 fighter-jet program in response to Ankara's decision to move ahead with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air-defense system.
  • The Justice Department posts a redacted version of Mueller’s report online, revealing a trove of details about the two-year investigation. While the report explicitly “does not exonerate” Trump from any crimes, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, said in his presentation of the report “that the evidence … is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice.”
  • Twenty-four Democratic senators write a letter urging Trump to renew New START.
  • Russia launches a special-purpose, nuclear-powered submarine, Belgorod, that is believed capable of carrying nuclear-tipped Poseidon underwater drones that could threaten U.S. coastal cities.
  • The U.S., Russia and China agree on the goal of withdrawing foreign forces from Afghanistan and to seek an "inclusive Afghan-led" peace process, the three countries declare in a joint statement. 
May 2019
  • Lavrov describes U.S. and Russian positions in the Venezuela crisis as “incompatible.”
  • When passing a $750 billion draft National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate Armed Services Committee acknowledges that “our margin of military supremacy has eroded and is undermined by new threats from strategic competitors like China and Russia.”
  • After Iran halts compliance with elements of JCPOA, the Kremlin states that the Trump administration's "poorly conceived, reckless decisions" have led Iran to curtail its commitments.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designates five individuals and one entity pursuant to the Magnitsky Act. 
  • U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley says that "the United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the 'zero-yield' standard." The Russian Foreign Ministry calls the statement a “crude provocation.”
June 2019
  • The U.S. agrees to station "about 1,000" more military personnel in Poland. The Russian Foreign Ministry says the move represents a “further dangerous build-up of military capabilities on the continent.”
  • In a Financial Times interview, Putin claims “the liberal idea” has “outlived its purpose,” sparking disagreement from Western leaders.
  • Putin and Trump meet at the G20 summit in Japan and discuss a range of issues, including improving economic ties, arms control issues, Syria and China. The two leaders reportedly agree “that improved relations between the United States and Russia was in each countries' mutual interest and the interest of the world,” and Putin invites Trump to Moscow to mark the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

July 2019

  • Russian and Chinese bombers conduct their first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific. The mission triggers hundreds of warning shots from South Korean warplanes and accusations from Seoul that Russian military aircraft violated South Korean airspace.
  • In his testimony before Congress, Mueller clarifies that he had not exonerated Trump of acting to obstruct the Russia probe. He disagrees with the president’s characterization of his investigation as a “witch hunt” and warns that Russian meddling threatens the 2020 U.S. election.
August 2019
  • Trump signs an executive order imposing fresh sanctions on Russia over the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
  • The U.S. formally withdraws from the INF Treaty after determining that Moscow is in violation of the treaty, a claim the Kremlin repeatedly denied. Putin says Russia would respond in kind if the U.S. develops short- and intermediate-range, land-based nuclear missiles following the demise of the INF. In February 2019, Russia had suspended its participation in INF in a “symmetrical” response to the Trump administration’s announcement that it would withdraw from the Treaty in six months, should Russia not come into compliance.
  • Trump reiterates his call for Russia to be allowed to rejoin the G7.
  • Jon Huntsman submits his resignation from the post of U.S. Ambassador to Russia.
September 2019
  • U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says "Russia is a competitor, and the NATO advantage over a resurgent Russia has eroded."
  • U.S. media report the CIA in 2017 extracted a Russian who provided top-secret intelligence on Putin, including information about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
October 2019
  • Trump withdraws most U.S. troops from Syria.
  • Western security officials reportedly conclude that operations such as the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and a thwarted coup in Montenegro are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilize Europe, executed by an elite unit known as Unit 29155 inside the Russian intelligence system.
November 2019
  • Russia formally proposes to the U.S. that the two nuclear superpowers extend New START, which expires in February 2021, by five years.
December 2019
  • Trump and Pompeo host Lavrov in Washington, agreeing with him on the need for denuclearization of North Korea, but disagreeing on whether to extend New START, as the U.S. side insists on including China in a new arms control deal.
  • The U.S. approves sanctions on companies and governments working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, causing Western contractors to stop constructing the pipeline.
  • Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), creating the U.S. Space Force, the sixth branch of the armed forces.
January 2020
  • Following the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani by an American drone strike, the Russia Foreign Ministry condemns the act as a “reckless step which could lead to a growth of tensions across the region.”
  • The entire Russian government resigns, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after Putin proposes a series of amendments to the Russian Constitution meant to enable him to continue steering Russia after his fourth presidential term expires in 2024. Putin appoints Mikhail Mishustin as the new prime minister.
  • The Trump administration cracks down on “birth tourism” by making it harder for pregnant women, including hundreds of Russian women, to travel to the U.S. to secure American citizenship for their babies by giving birth in the country.
  • Pompeo sets off on a trip to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan, he meets with the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian nations.

February 2020

  • Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov meets Commander-in-Chief of NATO forces in Europe Gen. Tod Wolters in Baku to discuss strategic stability, situations in crisis regions and practical steps to prevent incidents in the process of the two sides’ military activity.
  • U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan presents his diplomatic credentials to Putin and Lavrov.  
  • The Trump administration’s budget proposals for fiscal year 2021 call for $4.5 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, a fund started by the Obama administration in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, representing a precipitous drop from the $6 billion enacted for the current fiscal year and $6.5 billion the year before.
  • A median of 50 percent of respondents in 16 NATO member states believe their country should not defend a fellow NATO ally against a potential attack from Russia, with the share of those who hold such views reaching 66 percent in Italy, 60 percent in Germany and 53 percent in France, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
  • Lavrov tells Rossiiskaya Gazeta that counter-terrorism dialogue with the U.S. resumed last year. Lavrov says the U.S. over the past few years has on a couple of occasions shared information that helped prevent terrorist attacks in Russia. "We have been sharing relevant information, too, since the Boston Marathon incident. It looks like we’ve resumed contacts," Lavrov said.
  • American military and diplomatic officials say Russian military personnel have increasingly had run-ins with U.S. troops on highways in northeastern Syria, breaking agreements between the two countries to steer clear of each other. Russian helicopters are flying closer to American troops. 
  • Facebook removes two unconnected networks of accounts, pages and groups “engaging in foreign or government interference,” one originating in Russia and the other one in Iran, both of which have alleged ties to intelligence services.
  • Russia adds the legal entity of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news organization to its list of “foreign agent” media under a controversial law that requires listed outlets to disclose their funding sources.
  • Georgia, the U.S. and U.K. blame Russia for a massive coordinated cyberattack that took thousands of Georgian websites offline in October 2019. The U.K. and U.S. say they believe the attacks were perpetrated by the Sandworm team, a unit operated by Russia’s military intelligence service. 
  • When asked by the New York Times if Russia continues on its current course in Ukraine and other former Soviet states, should the United States regard it as an adversary, or even an enemy, all of America’s Democratic presidential candidates answered in the affirmative.
March 2020
  • Both houses of Russia's parliament approve a bill containing constitutional amendments that will allow Putin to run for two more terms in 2024 and 2030.
  • Russia begins reporting COVID-19 cases.

April 2020
  • The United States designates Russian far-right group Russian Imperial Movement as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time it has targeted white supremacist groups with tools regularly used against jihadist groups.

  • bipartisan report by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help elect Donald Trump was accurate and based on strongly sourced information.

  • The U.S. State Department reports that Russia, China and Iran are mounting disinformation campaigns against the U.S. relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 2020
  • The United States notifies Russia of its intent to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.
June 2020
  • U.S. intelligence agencies assess that Russian military intelligence offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Moscow rejects this assessment as unfounded.
July 2020
  • U.S. and Russian officials meet in Vienna, Austria to hold their first talks on space security and militarization since 2013.
August 2020
  • Russia becomes the first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny is poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, and Russian FSB operatives are suspected to be behind the attack.
September 2020
  • Alexander Lukashenko is sworn in for a sixth term as president of Belarus, following large-scale protests since August 2020 over what is considered a fraudulent election.
  • Clashes erupt between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces within the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
October 2020
  • Russia, France and the United States issue a joint demand for an immediate ceasefire between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces as the latter attack the former in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region.
  • The United States Department of Commerce and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom sign the final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation, which extends the agreement to 2040 and reduces the allowed Russian uranium exports from 20 percent of U.S. enrichment demand to about 17 percent over the next twenty years.
  • The EU imposes sanctions on six top Russian officials over their alleged involvement in the chemical weapon poisoning of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.
  • The United States charges six Russian military intelligence officers with involvement in a hacking campaign targeting several foreign powers and infrastructure networks.
November 2020
  • Putin signs executive order “On the Strategy for Developing the Russian Arctic Zone and Ensuring National Security until 2035”, which announces the construction of new nuclear-powered icebreakers to ensure navigation along the Northern Sea Route.
  • Leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia sign an agreement to end fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which provides for deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the zone of the conflict.
  • U.S. officials report that Russia has not conducted a hacking or disinformation campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, nor did it target elections systems.
  • A former Green Beret officer pleads guilty in a U.S. federal court to conspiring with Russian intelligence officers and providing them with classified information.
  • The U.S. Navy sends the USS John S. McCain on a freedom of navigation operation to challenge Russia’s maritime claims in the Western Pacific.
December 2020
  • Russian state-run news agency reports that the Russian navy will participate in joint exercises alongside NATO members for the first time in 10 years.
  • U.S. officials accuse the Russian government of being behind the hack of software company SolarWinds, considered to be one of the largest cyber breaches of U.S government agencies.
  • Putin becomes one of the last world leaders to congratulate U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on winning the November 2020 U.S. presidential election.
January 2021
  • The U.S. remains the top exporter of arms in 2016-2020, accounting for 37% of global arms transfers, according to SIPRI. Russia, the world's second-largest exporter, accounts for one-fifth of global arms deliveries.
  • Putin makes no immediate statement on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack in Washington, D.C., but senior Russian lawmakers weigh in. Konstantin Kosachyov, chair of the Russian senate's foreign affairs committee, says: "The celebration of democracy has … hit rock bottom.” Leonid Slutsky, his counterpart in the lower house, says “the boomerang of the color revolutions is turning back on the United States."
  •  U.S. security agencies say Russia was likely behind a massive cyber espionage campaign uncovered late in 2020 but describe it as “an intelligence gathering effort” rather than data manipulation or something more destructive. Russia denies involvement. Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approves the creation of a bureau to counter cybersecurity threats.
  •  Russia says it will withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Putin will officially sign off on the decision in June and the process is to end in December.
  • The Trump administration on Jan. 14 labels China, Iran, Russia, Cuba and North Korea foreign adversaries under new rules aimed at protecting the U.S. telecoms supply chain. Shipments of equipment and software from these nations could be blocked as posing a national-security risk.
  • As Biden takes oath of office, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says "nothing will change for Russia.” 
  • U.S. intelligence officials quietly conclude that more than a thousand Russian software engineers were most likely involved in the SolarWinds hack, according to the New York Times. 
  • A poll of 15,000 Europeans in 11 countries reveals that in no surveyed country would a majority want to take Washington’s side in a conflict with Russia. 
  • On Jan. 29, three days after a phone conversation with newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden, Putin signs a law extending the New START nuclear treaty for five years. According to the White House, the two presidents had “agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues.” 
February 2021
  • The Biden administration likewise extends the New START treaty by five years. The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomes the move, expressing hope that Biden was turning the page on the "destructive U.S. policy" of ending arms control measures. 
  • Naval forces from 45 countries, including the U.S., Russia, China and Turkey reportedly take part in the Aman 2021 naval exercises, which kicked off in Pakistan on Feb. 12—marking the first time in 10 years that Russian and NATO naval forces took part in a joint exercise.
  • In a speech to the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 19, Biden argues that the only way to deal with Russia is to push back hard. Russia remains intent on undermining Western democracy and must not be allowed to succeed, he says, adding that “the Kremlin … weaponizes corruption.”
  • Russians' attitudes toward the United States improve after a year of deteriorating sentiment, according to the Levada Center. A January 2021 poll showed nearly equal shares of Russians with positive and negative assessments of the U.S.: 40% versus 43%, respectively. 
  • Putin calls on the Federal Security Service, or FSB, to prioritize the Western threat in its work this year along with its primary task of countering terrorism.
March 2021
  • The Biden administration singles out a "growing rivalry with China, Russia and other authoritarian states" as a key challenge facing the United States in its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. At the same time, the document notes the extension of New START, pledging that the administration will “engage in meaningful dialogue with Russia and China on a range of emerging military technological developments that implicate strategic stability,” will “pursue new arms control arrangements” and “take steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.” 
  • A Gallup poll released March 1 shows that Americans’ overall favorable view of Russia has dropped to a new low of 22% and 77% now have an unfavorable opinion of the country.
  • The U.S. and EU announce coordinated sanctions against Russian officials over the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny.
  • Asked if he thought Putin was a killer, Biden tells ABC: "Mmm hmm, I do." Biden also says he has come to know Putin "relatively well" over the years and doesn't believe Putin has a soul.
  • U.S. intelligence concludes that Putin authorized “influence operations” to support Trump’s bid for re-election in the 2020 presidential campaign. The assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence finds that the Kremlin did not back hacking missions like those in 2016, which included attempts to break into “election infrastructure.”
  • A Levada Center poll shows that 29% of Russians think Russia is a European country, while 64% think it is not.
  • Politico, citing two congressional sources, reports that suspected Russian hackers stole thousands of U.S. State Department officials’ emails last year.
  • Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, speak by phone as Russia builds up armed forces near Ukraine’s borders.
April 2021
  • Russia's top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, says April 1 that the country's relations with the United States and its allies have “hit bottom.
  • report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council says Russia will likely remain a “disruptive power” for the next two decades, but its global influence may decline in the face of political, economic and societal headwinds.
  • The U.S. Air Force decides to retire the planes used for monitoring Russia under the Open Skies Treaty. An internal memo to U.S. partners by the State Department says the U.S. would send the “wrong message” to Russia by rejoining the treaty.
  • Biden announces his first unilateral sanctions against Russia two days after a conversation with Putin, noting that he “could have gone further but chose not to” and that “now is the time to de-escalate.”
  • Russia sees the U.S. as its “adversary,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says April 13, marking a departure from Russia’s earlier references to the U.S. as a “partner.”
  • The 2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community says: “We assess that Russia does not want a direct conflict with U.S. forces,” but also that “Moscow is well positioned to increase its role in the Caucasus, intervene in Belarus … and continue destabilization efforts against Ukraine.”
  • The White House says the U.S. intelligence community does not have conclusive evidence that Russian operatives encouraged the Taliban to attack American troops in Afghanistan. This marks a shift from Biden’s claims as a presidential candidate that Putin was “actually paying bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.”
  • In his annual address to parliament on April 21, Putin accuses Western countries of trying to “to impose their will on others by force” and warns against crossing Russia’s red lines, which his press secretary defines as protecting the “interests of our external and domestic security and preventing any foreign meddling.”
  • The Czech Republic alleges that Russian agents were involved in a 2014 arms depot blast, setting off a series of mutual expulsions of diplomats.
  • EU diplomats report that more than 100,000 Russian troops have been positioned near the Ukrainian border, with the Pentagon saying this buildup is larger than in 2014.
  • At an April 22 climate summit, Biden commits the U.S. to slashing its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52% by 2030 and Putin says Russia has set out to "significantly limit" net emissions by 2050.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rules out the possibility of creating a bloc between Russia and China in order to oppose the U.S., saying Putin understands the term "alliance" differently than Biden, according to Interfax.
  • Russia’s trade with the U.S. was up 15.7% in January-April, making America Russia’s fourth largest trading partner outside the former Soviet Union in that period, behind China, Germany and the Netherlands, according to Russia’s customs service.
May 2021
  • Senior Defense Department officials say that close to 80,000 Russian troops remain near various parts of the border with Ukraine. "Russia has the capacity on pretty short notice to take further aggressive action, so we're being very vigilant about that … and also making sure that we're helping Ukraine have the means to defend itself," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
  • Biden says the U.S. government has “strong reason” to believe that the hackers behind a cyberattack that shut the Colonial oil pipeline, a group called DarkSide, were based in Russia but it does not believe the Kremlin was involved in the attack. DarkSide avoids targeting computers that use languages from former Soviet republics, cyber experts say.
  • Putin submits a bill on May 11 to withdraw Russia from the Open Skies Treaty after the United States’ exit last year.
  • During their meeting in  Reykjavik on May 19, Blinken and Lavrov discuss “areas in which both of our peoples could benefit from sustained and enhanced cooperation, including Afghanistan, strategic stability and curbing Iran and the DPRK’s nuclear programs,” according to the U.S. State Department. Afterwards, Lavrov says the Russian side reaffirmed a “proposal to start a dialogue by considering all factors influencing strategic stability.”  
  • Blinken announces the decision to waive the application of sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG—the company overseeing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project—as well as its chief executive, Matthias Warnig.
  • Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the United States is toeing a dangerous line in maintaining an appropriate level of competition with China and Russia. "We … can see it fraying at the edge," Milley says. "With history as our guide, we would be wise to lift our gaze from the never-ending urgency of the present to set the conditions for a future that prevents great power war. … Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia … [a]nd we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”
  • Meat plants across the U.S. and Australia shut down for at least a day after a ransomware attack attributed to a “Russian-speaking hacker gang” called REvil halted operations at JBS, the world’s largest beef supplier. JBS would later say it paid about $11 million in ransom to the hackers.
  • In January to May 2021, Russia’s key non-CIS trading partners were China, with a turnover of $50.1 billion (up 26.1% year on year); Germany, with a turnover of $21.2 billion (+29.7%); the Netherlands, with a turnover of $16 billion (+23.7%) and the United States, with a turnover of $13.1 billion (+24.1%), TASS reports.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia will form 20 new “units and formations” in the country’s west by the end of the year in response to a growing NATO threat.
June 2021
  • Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov tells the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that Russia’s $186 billion national welfare fund would completely divest its $41 billion worth of holdings in dollars within a month, increasing its share of euros to 40% and Chinese yuan to 30%, with another 20% stored in gold.
  • With less than a week to go before a Biden-Putin summit in Switzerland, the White House orders the Pentagon to delay a long-planned hypersonic missile test so as not to raise tensions with Moscow. A U.S. defense official notes that the Russians likewise “didn’t do [provocative] things in advance of that summit. This is not unusual at all for the sake of table-setting.”  
  • Days after Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia would send “unpleasant signals” to the U.S. ahead of the Biden-Putin summit, Moscow announces its denunciation of a 1992 U.S.-Russian memorandum on "open 
  • lands," which allowed diplomats to travel without seeking permission and abolished most so-called closed areas.
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley believes the biggest threats the U.S. faces are China and Russia. "Combined, the Russian and Chinese budgets exceed our budgets if all the cards are put on the table," he notes.
  • Asked what position Russia would take in the event of an armed conflict between China and the United States, Russian Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov says: “I am convinced that there will be no armed conflict between China and the United States… however, if you are asking about the judgment of the international situation, then Russia's position is clearly much closer to China's.”
  • During their June 16 summit in Geneva, Biden and Putin agree to: (a) return the U.S. and Russian ambassadors to the respective capitals; (b) resume a U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability, reaffirming the key principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”; (c) enter a bilateral dialogue on cyber security. While Putin says after the summit that “the main result is these flashes of trust,” Biden separately says: “This is not about trust; this is about self-interest and verification of self-interest.” While the two leaders discussed prisoner exchanges, no deadline is set or agreement reached.
  • Leaders of the G7 nations say on June 13: “We reiterate our interest in stable and predictable relations with Russia, and will continue to engage where there are areas of mutual interest.”
  • Following a one-day summit in Brussels, NATO leaders say on June 14: "Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to 'business as usual.’”
  • At their June 16 summit, the U.S. and EU agree to "establish a high-level EU-U.S. dialogue on Russia” to “coordinate our policies and actions.” 
  • Russia says one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the path of Britain's HMS Defender to force it from an area near Crimea that Moscow claims as its territorial waters; a week later Putin claims that a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was operating in concert with the Defender; Ryabkov warns that in such cases Russia “may drop bombs and not just in the path but right on target.”
  • On June 24, a proposal by France and Germany to hold an EU-Russia summit with Putin faces fierce resistance from some of the member states. As a result, the participants only agree to maintain and develop a dialogue with Russia.
  • In an op-ed in Die Zeit, Putin writes that “Russia is in favor of restoring a comprehensive partnership with Europe.”
  • The leaders of China and Russia announce the extension of a 20-year-old friendship treaty as Putin and Xi hold a televised meeting by video link.
  • Rosatom releases annual report stating that in 2020 U.S. diplomats warned their Russian counterparts that ISIS was plotting to acquire radioactive substances in Russia, prompting all Russian operators of sites handling radioactive material and associated facilities to conduct unscheduled physical protection audits in September 2020.
  • During his annual call-in show on June 30 Putin portrays the U.S. as a waning power: "On one hand, our partners in the United States understand this; therefore there was a meeting in Geneva. On the other hand, they are trying at all costs to maintain their monopoly position.”
  • Putin reveals that he received the domestically produced Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and urges Russians to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases and deaths surge amid widespread hesitancy to get the shot.
  • Russia and the U.S. join efforts to organize an event commemorating those killed in the 9/11 attacks, ahead of their 20th anniversary, Vladimir Voronkov, under secretary general of the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism, tells a press conference on June 30.
July 2021
  • The U.N. Security Council on July 9 extends a cross-border aid operation into Syria from Turkey after Russia agrees to a compromise in last-minute talks with the U.S., ensuring the delivery of humanitarian help to millions of Syrians for the next 12 months.
  • Biden tells Putin in a July 9 phone call that he must “take action” against cybercriminals acting in Russia and that the U.S. reserves the right to “defend its people and its critical infrastructure”; this reiterates earlier comments by White House press secretary Jen Psaki in the wake of a massive ransomware attack via breached software made by multi-national tech firm Kaseya.  
  • Putin signs a National Security Strategy. A comparison between the 2021 document and its 2015 predecessor reveals that the Kremlin has strengthened its determination to deter the West and engage Asia, seeing them, respectively, as declining and rising, while starting to pay more attention to domestic components of national security, such as human capital.
  • The Guardian claims that leaked Kremlin documents show that Putin personally authorized a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council. Putin’s spokesman Peskov tells the newspaper the idea that Russian leaders had met and agreed to support Trump was “great pulp fiction”; Trump dismisses the report as “disgusting” and “fiction.”
  • U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and Putin agree during a July 14 phone call that the U.S. and Russia should work together on climate issues. "The climate problem is one of the areas where Russia and the United States have common interests and similar approaches," Putin says during the call with Kerry, who was visiting Moscow at the time.
  • Amid deteriorating security in Afghanistan, Kommersant reports that, during their June 16 summit, Putin offered Biden the coordinated use of Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for information gathering from Afghanistan. Lavrov says Russia will continue working with the U.S. to help stabilize Afghanistan, but Washington’s “mission has failed," he says, blaming the instability in Afghanistan on the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.
  • Russian and U.S. negotiators have held four rounds of consultations on cybersecurity issues, including one in Geneva in mid-July, Ryabkov tells a Russian-American dialogue on nuclear issues.
  • NATO holds exercises in the Black Sea, saying it has increased its presence there “since Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.”
  • The U.S. and Germany say they have reached an agreement to allow the completion of Nord Stream 2, agreeing on measures, including the possible implementation of sanctions against Russia, that aim to soften any impact on Ukraine's budget and national security from the pipeline’s completion. 
  • Per an agreement reached at the U.S.-Russian summit in June, U.S. and Russian teams led by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov hold "professional and substantive" talks in Geneva on July 28 on "maintaining strategic stability, the prospects for arms control and measures to reduce risks." Washington wants China to be included in wider talks on nuclear arms control, while Russia wants Britain and France included.
  • Moscow forces the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia to stop employing foreign nationals in any capacity as of Aug. 1, slashing the number of personnel staffing the U.S. Embassy and consulates by around 90% percent.
  • Lavrov becomes  the latest Russian political figure to praise the Taliban, with the Kremlin calling it a “powerful force” and Russia's envoy for Afghanistan calling its rapid takeover of border areas “positive” for regional security.
August 2021
  • Russia is supplying more oil and refined petroleum products to the U.S. than any other foreign producer aside from Canada,with growth driven largely by high prices.
  • Soviet Air Force veteran Viktor Alksnis says Russian military pilots use commercial GPS receivers during their combat operations in Syria.
  • Russian forces take part in a regular Chinese military exercise, Sibu/Interaction 2021, for the first time, operating Chinese hardware. Some analysts believe the two militaries could grant each other access to electronic communications systems and build joint command structures.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, speak by telephone about ongoing strategic stability talks, discussing "transparency and risk-reduction efforts.”
  • After Taliban fighters take over Afghanistan’s capital, the U.S. reaches out to Russia to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that Putin, during the June 16 summit with Biden, “objected to any role for American forces in Central Asian countries,” according to senior U.S. and Russian officials. Former and current U.S. officials saw this as indicating “that Moscow is more determined to try to maintain Central Asia as a sphere of influence than to expand cooperation with a new American president over the turmoil in Afghanistan,” according to the newspaper.
  • Russia, with its array of hard-to-detect cruise missiles and advanced submarines, poses the primary military threat to the American homeland today, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command, says Aug. 17.
  • The Biden administration puts Russia’s “market economy” status under review in a move that revives a weapon not used since the 1990s to hurt Russian trade. Without the designation the U.S. can impose special duties on global Russian exports that could be more painful than sanctions.
  • Putin has criticizes the U.S. and its allies for leaving Afghanistan in chaos and causing potential security threats for Russia and its allies in Central Asia. The Russian Embassy in Kabul remains open as Taliban fighters occupy the city.
  • As the U.S. withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, Biden says: “We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia. … And there’s nothing China or Russia would … want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan.”
September 2021
  • The last piece of the Nord Stream 2 pipe is welded into place on Sept. 7. The operating company remains vague on the timing for the commencement of gas flow, saying only that it would start before the end of the year.
  • Leaders of the Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization urge the world to unfreeze Afghanistan's assets and boost assistance to the war-torn nation. Putin speaks at an SCO summit of integration processes in Eurasia that advance the interests of the region’s countries, while China’s Xi Jinping said SCO nations should help a smooth transition in Afghanistan.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives agrees to add legislation to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 (NDAA-2022) that would place sanctions on Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The House also approves an amendment that would ban U.S. citizens from trading in newly issued Russian sovereign debt on both primary and secondary markets; its Rules Committee recommends the U.S. consider imposing sanctions against 35 Russian citizens, including government ministers and major businessmen.
  • Russia’s ruling United Russia party retains a two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, following elections criticized as neither free nor fair by Russia’s opposition and the West. Jailed activist Alexei Navalny accuses the Kremlin of stealing the elections and a group of Russian parliamentary candidates calls for protest rallies. A Russian analyst of election fraud estimates that actual support for United Russia was about 33%.
  • U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discusses with his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, Putin’s reported offer to use Russian military bases in Central Asia to respond to emerging terrorist threats in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials cited by The Wall Street Journal. TASS cites a senior Russian diplomat as saying Moscow continues to consider U.S. military presence in ex-Soviet Central Asia inadmissible.
  • After the talks with Gerasimov, Milley says the U.S. should explore ways to expand its military contacts with the Russians, potentially to include allowing observers from each country to watch the other’s combat exercises, in a broad effort to increase transparency and reduce the risk of conflict.
  • NATO holds more exercises in the Black Sea.
  • U.S. and Russian teams led by the countries’ No. 2 diplomats, Wendy Sherman and Sergei Ryabkov, meet in Geneva on Sept. 30 for the second round of the bilateral dialogue on strategic stability. They agree to set up two working groups. (According to later reporting by Kommersant, the Biden administration initially proposed creating four working groups—on doctrines, space, nuclear weapons and new technologies—but the Russian negotiators opposed a rigid separation of certain issues, in particular space and missile defense.) The U.S. expresses concern over China’s nuclear build-up.
  • Russia’s Kommersant daily reports, citing unnamed sources, that U.S.-Russian cybersecurity cooperation over the past several months has led to “a blow … against” criminal hacker gangs Evil Corp., TrickBot and REvil. 
October 2021
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Oct. 7 that NATO has decided to expel eight Russians accredited to the alliance in response to a surge in Moscow's "malign activities.” Earlier, Sky News alleged the activities included killings and espionage. Later this month, Russia suspends the work of NATO’s liaison office in Moscow and recalls its own representatives to the alliance.
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. senators urges Biden to increase staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and to expel Russian diplomats from Washington if Moscow doesn’t cooperate.
  • U.S. and Russian diplomats fail to agree on embassy staffing and consular services during an Oct. 11-13 visit to Moscow by U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; however, Nuland reportedly makes progress on near-future contacts between the countries’ presidents and on Ukraine, according to TASS, which quotes her as saying she and deputy head of the Kremlin administration Dmitry Kozak discussed a shared interest “in the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements.”
  • The New York Times reports that U.S. officials said they had begun passing intelligence to Russia in recent weeks about specific hackers believed to be a threat to U.S. companies, cities and infrastructure; the officials said their Russian counterparts have sounded cooperative, but had not yet made arrests.
  • recent poll from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs says the share of Americans who favor defending Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia if Russia were to invade increased from 44% in 2014 to 59% today.
  • Putin says that tensions surrounding Taiwan should be resolved through talks by the countries of the region without outside interference. "China does not need … the use of force. China … has emerged as the world’s top economy in terms of purchasing power parity, outpacing the United States," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying Oct. 13. He added in separate comments: “I … believe that President Xi Jinping is my friend.” 
  • The deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council says Russia has intelligence on “terrorists’ aspirations” to get information on the manufacture of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, “as well as their increased attention to the possible use of pathogenic biological agents and toxic chemicals.”
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tells NATO counterparts that the U.S. wants "predictability and stability" in its relationship with Russia, while NATO’s secretary-general says Russia and China should not be seen as separate threats. Jens Stoltenberg also says NATO’s forthcoming plans to deter Russia include “significant improvements to our air and missile defenses,” as well as fifth-generation jets.
  • Building on two earlier “consensus reports” unexpectedly backed by both Washington and Moscow in March and July, Russia and the U.S. put forward a joint resolution to the U.N. General Assembly on responsible state behavior in cyberspace.
  • Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, gives a brief update on the U.S.-Russia cybersecurity talks announced after the Biden-Putin summit in June, calling them “direct and candid” and saying the dialogue had been used “to outline our expectations” and “to pass information regarding individual criminal activity.”
  • A State Department official tells The Washington Post that Moscow hasn’t yet “taken aggressive action against Russian-based hackers” and warns that “‘if they won’t act, we will.’”
  • On Oct. 20 Russia hosts the Taliban for talks in Moscow. The next day Putin says he thinks Biden “did the right thing by deciding to withdraw troops” from Afghanistan. He also says Afghanistan should receive economic support and hints that Russia may recognize the Taliban. TASS reports that such recognition would be conditional on its inclusivity and observance of human rights, citing senate Speaker Valentina Matviyenko.
  • Gallup releases polling data about global powers' leadership, saying that in 2020 Russia, for the first time, edged out both the U.S. and China, with a median approval rating of 34%. (China and the U.S. tied for last place at 30%.) 
  • Microsoft officials and cybersecurity experts warn that Russia’s military intelligence agency (SVR) has launched another cybersurveillance campaign targeting thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks.
  • Interfax quotes Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov as saying it is “impossible” for Russia to stop Ukraine from joining NATO, but it is possible to minimize the ramifications of such steps for Russia. The next day Ukraine’s military announces it has destroyed a howitzer operated by pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east in its first combat deployment of a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone.
  • A U.S. official warns that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow could stop performing most functions next year unless there is progress with Russia on increasing the number of visas for diplomats. He says the U.S. lacks staff for basic tasks such as opening and closing the embassy gates, ensuring secure telephone calls and operating the elevators. Washington has added Russians seeking U.S. visas to a list of “homeless nationals” who can apply for visas in third countries, sparking criticism from Moscow. 
  • Putin tells Gazprom to start pumping natural gas into European storage facilities once Russia finishes replenishing its own stocks, estimated to happen by Nov. 8. The Financial Times reports that the largest shortfalls in European gas storage are at sites owned or controlled by Gazprom; critics interpret this as a Russian attempt to squeeze European energy supplies.
  • Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s senior adviser for energy security, says “Russia did not create the natural gas crisis in Europe. … But there’s no doubt that Russia has not done what it could have done to mitigate it and to slow the price increase.”
  • Lavrov says he spoke briefly with Biden in Rome and the U.S. leader “stressed his commitment to further contacts.”
November 2021
  • Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council, meets with CIA Director William Burns in Moscow to discuss U.S.-Russian relations. The same day a Kremlin spokesman says there is “mutual interest” in another Putin-Biden meeting. Burns also holds talks in Moscow with Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) chief Sergei Naryshkin on bilateral cooperation in fighting international terrorism. It is later reported that during his visit Burns warned the Kremlin that the U.S. is watching its buildup of troops near Ukraine's border and that Russia will face “consequences” if it is responsible for the mysterious health incidents known as “Havana Syndrome.” Neuberger, the cybersecurity advisor, says Burns likewise discussed “the need for Russia to address malicious ransomware activity coming from within its borders.”
  • “We are entering into a tripolar world with the United States, Russia and China,” chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley says. “We’re going to have to put a premium … on maintaining great power peace.”
  • Russia joins over 100 countries in promising to end deforestation by 2030 at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. However, while 105 countries sign the Global Methane Pledge at the summit, Russia does not. Biden criticizes Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping for not attending the summit in person. A group of researchers from British universities say Russia could be left with almost $2 trillion in worthless hydrocarbon assets if major economies hit their net zero targets over the coming decades.
  • On Nov. 8 the Justice and Treasury departments announce several tough moves against alleged “affiliates” of the REvil ransomware gang believed to be behind the May JBS breach and other cyberattacks; actions include the arrest of a Ukrainian national suspected of involvement in the July ransomware attack against Kaseya and an indictment against Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin and the seizure from him of more than $6 million. (Polyanin, 28, stands accused of taking part in ransomware attacks on multiple companies and government entities in Texas; the U.K.’s Daily Mail tabloid later reports that it had located Polyanin living lavishly in the Siberian city of Barnaul.) Biden says he was following through on a promise he made to Putin during their June summit.
  • Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sign an update to a charter on a strategic partnership that says Washington supports Ukraine's "right to decide its own future foreign policy course free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO."
  • Tensions get worse between Russia and the West over a migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border, with Moscow sending bombers to patrol the area.
  • Putin calls U.S. and NATO activities in the Black Sea a "serious challenge" to Russia, specifically noting exercises involving a “powerful naval group” and strategic bombers.
  • Putin instructs his diplomats to maintain tensions with the West, “so that it does not occur to them to stage some kind of conflict on our western borders.”
  • Patrushev reportedly discusses Ukraine, cybersecurity and the migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border with U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan over the phone.
  • A makeshift migrant camp on Belarus' border with Poland has been cleared, Minsk says Nov. 18, as hundreds of Iraqis who failed to cross into the EU return home. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks with Putin on Nov. 19, taking credit for de-escalating the crisis.
  • The U.S. shares intelligence, including maps, with European allies showing a buildup of Russian troops and artillery poised for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations, possibly as soon as early next year. The Biden administration weighs sending military advisers and new equipment, including weaponry, to Ukraine.  
December 2021 (through Dec. 15)
  • Putin warns the West against crossing Moscow’s “red lines” in Ukraine. On Dec. 1 he calls for “legal guarantees” that NATO will not expand eastward; his aide Yuri Ushakov echoes this demand two days later. On Dec. 2, Lavrov says Moscow would soon put forward proposals for a new European security pact that would hopefully stop such expansion.
  • Biden and Putin hold a two-hour video conference Dec. 7. No formal agreements were on the table, “but the straightforward notion that the United States, flanked by our European allies and partners, would be prepared to talk to Russia about strategic issues in the European theater—that was on the table, and we are prepared to do that,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan says. Speaking the next day, Biden says he hopes to announce  a meeting soon between the U.S., its major allies in Europe and Russia for talks on Moscow's concerns about NATO expansion. 
  • During the call, Biden and Putin also discuss Iran, the U.S.-Russia dialogue on strategic stability, cybersecurity and constraints on each other’s diplomatic missions, but neither side’s readouts mention either Crimea or domestic politics in Russia. Putin tells Biden he would like to meet for more talks.
  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Dec. 10 issues a demand that NATO withdraw its 2008 pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia to the alliance. 
  • AP reports that Biden administration officials have suggested that the U.S. will press Ukraine to formally cede a measure of autonomy within its eastern Donbas region; moreover, the agency says, senior U.S. State Department officials have told Ukraine that NATO membership is unlikely to be approved in the next decade.
  • Russia says it could be forced to deploy nuclear missiles in Europe as a reaction to what it perceives as NATO’s intentions to make similar moves.

For an alternative timeline of U.S.-Russian relations from the 1690s to January 2020 , visit CCNY's web site on U.S.-Russian relations.

Correction: An entry for January 2002 initially identified Yuri Ushakov as Russia's foreign minister; he was in fact Russia's ambassador to the U.S.