Timeline of US-Russian Relations: What Did We Get Wrong, What Significant Events Are Missing?


March 1983 Reagan called USSR Evil Empire and announced SDI.
September 1983 Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.
September 1983 Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov made an ultimate judgement in September 1983 that report of an U.S. nuclear missile attack was a false alarm.
November 1983 U.S./NATO Able Archer command post exercise held among Soviets’ increasing concerns that a surprise first nuclear strike by U.S./NATO could be planned.
March 1985 Soviet Politburo elected Gorbachev as Communist Party General Secretary, Gorbachev launches campaign of glasnost and perestroika, reaching out to West.
November 1985 1st Reagan-Gorbachev summit of in Geneva, SDI discussed, but to no avail.
January 1986 President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev exchanged New Year’s greetings to the peoples of the Soviet Union and the United States in two televised five-minute statements.
February 1986
April 1986 Chernobyl Disaster.
October, 1986 2nd Reagan-Gorbachev in Reykjavík. The two almost agreed to eliminate all nuclear weapons during their historic summit in Reykjavik in October 1986, but the negotiations eventually stalled over SDI.
June 1987 Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this (Berlin) wall” speech.
December 1987 2nd Reagan-Gorbachev summit in DC. Reagan and Gorbachev sign INF treaty in Washington DC, Time names Gorbachev as man of the year.
May 1988 Fourth and final Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Moscow. Gorbachev was hoping to use the Summit as an opportunity for Reagan and Gorbachev to agree to the START Treaty, but soon after Reagan arrived it became very clear that Reagan was not interested in further arms control agreements.
May- February 1988 The withdrawal of Soviet combatant forces from Afghanistan.
December 1988 In a speech to the United Nations, Gorbachev announced that USSR will begin to withdraw Soviet forces from Eastern Europe,
May-November 1989 Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe: In May 1989 Hungary began dismantling its 240-kilometre (150 mi) long border fence with Austria. Shortly after Poland’s electorate voted the Communists out of government in June, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Eastern European countries. By October, Hungary and Czechoslovakia followed Poland’s example and, on November 9, 1989 the East German Government opened the Berlin Wall.
November 1988 – December 1990 Estonia became 1st Soviet republic to declare sovereignty. This so-called “parade of sovereignty” continued throughout remainder of 1988 and most of 1990 until Soviet republic – Kyrgyz republic – declared sovereignty, becoming the last of 15 Soviet republics to do so.
December 1989 1st Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit 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, agreed on a framework for negotiating the unification of Germany.
March 1990. Gorbachev elected president of USSR.
June 1990 2nd Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit in DC, unification of Germany discussed, but no agreements signed.
July 1990 3rd Bush Sr-Gorbachev summit in Moscow, STAR I is signed.
September-October 1990 German Reunification: Secretary Baker and Foreign Minister Shevardnadze joined the Foreign Ministers of France, Britain, and the two Germanys to sign the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany.”
October 1990 German reunification completed.
December 1990 Gorbachev won Nobel Peace Prize.
February 1991 Warsaw Pact disbanded.
August 1991 Putsch against Gorbachev.
September 1991 Bush Sr announced initiatives on unilateral reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons.
October 1991 Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union will not only reciprocate Bush’s initiatives on non-strategic nuclear weapons, but also proposed that USSR and the United States eliminate entire categories of such weapons.
November 1991. The Nunn-Lugar- bill passes the Senate in an 86-8 vote.
Decmber 1991 Nunn-Lugar bill is signed by President Bush Sr. into Public Law 102-228.
December 1991 Dissolution of Soviet Union: On December 8, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine declared that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and proclaimed a “Commonwealth of Independent States” (CIS). Eleven former Soviet Republics joined the CIS on December 21. The resignation of President Gorbachev on December 25 formally ended the Soviet Union.


January-February 1992 Yeltsin visits the US, meets Bush. Sr.

·      -US promises to promote future Russian admission to IMF and World Bank, a major economic goal for Russia

·      -A Joint Proclamation is issued, stating that the US and Russia don’t see each other as potential adversaries and are beginning a new era of “friendship and partnership”[1]

June 1992 Bush-Yeltsin Summit in Washington

·      -Bush and Yeltsin agree to continue START process; set goal of reducing nuclear force by 3000-3500 warheads by 2003

·      -The US agrees to cut submarine based nuclear weapons by half

·      -Yeltsin had initially been very reluctant to negotiate this reduction, since he saw it as still benefitting the US’ arsenal more; however, a more preferable aid package was also negotiated in order to sway Russia.

·      -Bush had previously proposed that Moscow give up its “land-based, multiple-warhead ballistic missiles. The Kremlin countered with a proposal that the two sides cut to 2,500 warheads each, and that both nations give up their land-based and sea-launched multiple-warhead missiles.”[2]

·      -The US pledges 4.5$ billion in economic assistance to Russia

·      -The US launches Peace Corp volunteer program in Russia

·      -Both states declare bilateral support for UN operations in Bosnia[3]

February-March 1992 The United States established diplomatic relations with Moldova on February 18 and with Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on February 19. On March 24, it extended diplomatic recognition to Georgia.
April 1992 Belarus announced the completion of the withdrawal to Russia of all the tactical nuclear warheads deployed on Belarusian territory.[4]
May 1992 By May 1992 all tactical nuclear weapons had been removed from Ukraine to Russia.[5]
May 1992. On May 23, 1992. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol to the START I Treaty, becoming parties to the START I Treaty as legal successors to the Soviet Union with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, therefore, committing to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear states. Would be good to add that, in side letters, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan all committed to eliminate all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles from their territories.
June 1992. In June 1992 President Bush and President Yeltsin signed the umbrella CTR agreement.[6]
January 1993 Bush-Yeltsin summit in Moocow: START II signed[7]

·            -In the first phase of START II, states will have to reduce nuclear weapons to 3800-4250

·            -By the end of phase 2, neither will have more than 3000-3500 warheads (to be completed by 2003)[8]

April 1993: Yeltsin-Clinton Summit in Vancouver

·            -First meeting between Yeltsin and Clinton, where leaders pledge a “new democratic partnership”[9]

·            -The US pledges 1.6$ bn 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

January 1994 Yeltsin-Clinton Summit in Moscow:

·      -Both leaders agree to move towards liquidating Cold War military hardware

·      The US will purchase 12$ bn of low enriched uranium from Russia over 20 years, after Russia converts it from high enriched uranium to low enriched uranium

·      -Russia will participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program

·      -Clinton and Yeltsin 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 ascension of Central Europe countries into NATO

·      -Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, and the US agree that Ukraine will give up all nuclear weapons and sign the NPT; in exchange, the US and Russia will negotiate security guarantees with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus[10]

February 1994 First Joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission: The first joint U.S.-Russian Space Shuttle Mission launched on February 3 with Russian Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev onboard the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery.
May 1994 Moscow Declaration implemented: The US and Russia officially no longer aim nuclear weapons at each other[11]
September 1994 Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Washington in September 1994

·      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, which the US labels a terrorist state[12]

December 1994. Budapest memorandum, a key factor in persuading Ukraine to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, but involving assurances by the US and Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
April 1995 By April 1995 Kazakhstan had returned to Russia all the nuclear warheads.[13]
May 1995 Clinton visits Russia for 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 Treaty (CFE); by November 1995, the CFE treaty would require large withdrawal of weaponry from Chechnya

·            -Yeltsin proposes that Moscow sell some of its nuclear reactors to Iran; Clinton objects[14]

January 1996 – U.S. Ratification of START II Treaty: The U.S. Senate ratified the START II Treaty on January 26.
April 1996: Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Moscow

·            -Both leaders agree to seek Comprehensive Test Ban treaty by September 1996 to fulfill NPT obligation[15]

·            -Modifications to the CFE treaty are discussed, given Russia’s concerns over the Treaty provisions in regards to Chechnya

·            -Yeltsin objects again to NATO enlargement plans; Clinton promises there will be “no surprises”[16]

June 1996. June 1, 1996. Last nuclear warheads transferred from Ukraine for Russia.
May 1997: NATO-Russia Founding Act[17]

·            -Yeltsin and Clinton sign NATO-Russia cooperation, are no longer adversaries

·            -NATO asserts that it will continue to expand however

·            -NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council created to facilitate transparency and cooperation

·            -All parties agree to work towards a solution for the Bosnian conflict

March 1997 Clinton-Yeltsin 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 the Duma ratifies START II

·            -Clinton supports Russia’s ascension to the G7, now the G8[18]

·            -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: Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Moscow

·            -Each country will remove 50 metric tons of plutonium from the other country’s stockpiles; Clinton urges Duma to approve START II, so the next round of START can begin

·            -Both leaders agree to implement the Convention of the Prohibition of Biological Weapons

·            -Yesin says Russia is against the use of force in Iraq, Kosovo, or Afghanistan[19]

·            -Yeltsin states that Russia is not dependent on Western economic aid, but does welcome increased Western investment and continued aid from the US

·            -Despite disagreement over NATO enlargement, Russia will participate in upcoming NATO summit; Russia has no plans to expand westward

November 1998 -Launch of International Space Station: The joint international project to establish a manned space station began with the launch of the Russian-built control module on November 20.
March-June 1999. Bombing of then-Yugoslavia to win independence for Kosovo and expansion of NATO led to seriously strained relationships by the end of the Bush administration
 March 1999 4th wave of NATO expansion (1st was Greece and Turkey, second was W. Germany, 3rd was Spain) NATO: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland admitted
August 1999 Putin is appointed prime minister.
December 1999. Yeltsin resigns, Putin becomes acting president.
March 2000. Putin is elected president of Russia
June 2000: Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow[20]

·            -In the first meeting between Clinton and Putin (in his role as President), Clinton disagrees with Putin’s harsher Chechnya policy

·            -Both agree to establish a data exchange to share early warning missile threat info, which will be the first join US- Russia major military cooperation, and the continued disposition of weapon-grade plutonium[21]

·            -Clinton addresses Russian State Duma, and sits for an interview with Ekho Moskvy, a liberal radio station, after Putin had ordered a government raid of a few liberal news outlets

·            -Clinton again tries to propose a missile defense shield proposal, but Putin rejects this.

July 2000 – Clinton and Putin Meet at G-8 Summit: President Clinton discussed a range of political and security issues with President Putin in a meeting just prior to the beginning of the G-8 Summit at Okinawa, Japan. These issues included the recent Middle East peace initiative, the Iranian nuclear program, Chechnya, Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Belgrade, and the need to establish rule of law in Russia.
November 2000 – First Crew on Manned International Space Station: A Russian Soyuz Rocket delivered the first permanent resident crew to the International Space Station on November 2. One American astronaut, Bill Shepherd, and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, remained in space until March 21.
July 2001: 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 Treaty

·            -Putin and Bush announce a Russian-American Business dialogue

·            -Putin expresses concern that the US has not been consistent with its support of Russia’s WTO bid[22]

September 2001 Putin becomes 1st foreign leader to call Bush Jr after 9/11.
January 2002: Mutual US-Russian Legal Assistance Treaty signed

-Colin Powel and Yuriy Ushakov sign a treaty, stating that the US and Russia will jointly fight crime and terrorism[23]

January 2002: The term “axis of evil” was used by U.S. President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002,
May 2002: Treaty of Moscow signed on Strategic Defensive Reductions

·            -The Treaty reduces levels of operationally deployed warheads to 1700-2000 by 2012[24]

·            -The arms control agreement gives Putin more clout on the international stage as a partner to the US[25]

May 2002 NATO-Russia Council Summit[26]

·            -Bush and Putin agree to create a body that will work towards cooperation in areas of common interests, including nonproliferation and a joint peacekeeping force in Bosnia

June 2002. In 2002 G-8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was established at Kananaskis. U.S. pledged $10 bn, others another $10 bn. over 10 years[27]
July 2002: Bush withdrawals from ABM Treaty signed in 1972

·            The withdrawal is accompanied by a statement from Bush, saying the US is committed to moving forward with missile defense programs, which would have otherwise broken the treaty[28]

-In response, the Kremlin announces that it is therefore no longer bound by START II, even though the treaty had never entered full force[29]

March 2003 Russia opposes US-led invasion of Iraq

·            Putin calls the invasion an error in policy and intelligence and claims he had warned the US about the 9-11 attacks two days prior to their occurrence[30]

March 2004 5th wave of NATO expansion: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia admitted.
March 2004 Putin was elected to the presidency for a second term.
February 2005 Bush-Putin Summit in Bratislava

·            -Putin and Bush discuss nuclear security, particularly noting the possibility of nuclear terrorism

·            -both agree to help countries processing uranium move to low enriched fuel[31]

·            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[32]

·            The US and Russia also agree to work towards Russian membership in WTO[33]

July 2006 : Bush and Putin establish the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism at St. Petersburg G8 Summit

·            -The Joint Initiative increase nuclear facility security and work against nuclear terrorism incidents[34]

·            -13 countries joined initially, as of 2016, 86 are party

March 2007: Russia opposes US plans to build missile defense shield in Poland

·      -Russia responds by threatening to withdraw from INF

July 2007 Russia notified other signatories of its intended suspension of the CFE on July 14, 2007.
April 2008: NATO Summit in Bucharest.

·            Putin personally attends to avert granting of MAPs to Georgia and Ukraine, which is ultimately blocked by Germany. -The US and many NATO allies agree that Georgia and Ukraine will one day be NATO members, though no action plan is extended to these countries.

·            -NATO members meet to invite Albania and Croatia as members, and agree that expansion should continue

March 2008. Dmitry Medvedev elected president of Russia with Putin’s blessing.
May 2008 Putin’s presidency ends and he becomes PM under Medvedev.
August 2008: US 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 Kaliningrad[35]

August 2008 Russo-Georgian War
·      -Russia claims its citizens and Russian speaking compatriots were being targeted in South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Georgia forces; Georgia claims Russian peacekeeping troops were targeting Georgian civilians and planning to invade Georgia

·      -Russia and Georgia mobilize and fight a 5 day war over the two separatist provinces, ending in a stalemate and internationally negotiated treaty[36]

·      -US supported Georgia throughout the war and condemned Russia’s actions, although Bush called on President Mikhail Saakashvili to stand down[37]

·      -UN reports after the war note human rights violations on both sides

April 2009 6th wave of NATO expansion: Albania, Croatia admitted,
July 2009: Obama calls for a reset in relations with Russia

-after conflict in Georgia, Obama calls for the US and Russia to reset relations and called for renewed cooperation to address Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs[38]

September2009 On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the European Phased Adaptive Approach or EPAA.
April 2010 Putin-Obama Prague Summit[39]

·            The US and Russia sign New START after START treaties expired in December 2009

o      Treaty cuts deployed strategic warheads by 30%, down to 1550[40]

o      ICBMs and SLBMs limited to 700

June 2010 The US and Russia cooperate about tightening sanctions on Iran over nuclear program[41]
June 2010: US announces it has arrested 10 Russian spies living in US[42]

·      -Putin is highly critical, though says he doesn’t want this to hamper the reset in relations

·      -Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says arrests are an “unjustified throwback to the Cold War” [43]

January 2011 In January 2011 U.S. and Russia exchanged notes to bring into force the 123 Agreement. [44]
October 2011: Russia Vetoes a US resolution condemning the Assad regime in Syria

·      -Churkin claims that Syria needs a gradual and apolitical approach, as opposed to the options the US has proponed

·      -Susan Rice affirms that a resolution condemning the human rights abuses will not lead to military action in Syria[45]

Fall 2011 Massive protests in Moscow after rigged Duma elections, Putin blames US/Clinton.
March 2012: Putin elected for 3rd presidential term, which will expire in 2018. This sparks more   protests

·      -thousands protest Putin’s reelection as President, citing widespread election fraud[46]

August 2012: Russia joins WTO
September 2012 USAID expelled from Russia.
December 2012 Congress passed Magnitsky Act.
June 2013 Snowden arrives in Russia.
July 2013 Russia 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 US and Russia on how to deal with Syria’s civil war[47]

·      -Putin gives Obama a plan on Syria, later agreed to by Assad, to remove all of the chemical weapons from the country[48]

February 2014 Protests, which began in Ukraine in fall 2013 over Yanukovych’s stalling of signing EU-Ukraine deal culminate in “Maidan Revolution,” promoting Yanukovych to flee.
March 2014 Following ouster of Yanukovych, Russian annexes Crimea, US and EU impose 1st and 2nd round of sanctions in March-April, targeting mostly individuals and companies.
April 2014: Fighting begins in Donetsk and Luhansk

-The conflict has continued through 2016, despite numerous ceasefires and internationally mediated meetings between Ukraine and Russia[49]

July 2014 Sectoral sanctions (3rd round) imposed on Russia by EU and US.
August 2014: Russia counter-sanctions the US and EU countries
September 2015: Russia begins air campaign in Syria
February 2015 Minsk II Accord signed
November 2015: Obama and Putin discuss Syria during the G-20 summit in Turkey, agree to a UN framework for a ceasefire and eventual peaceful transition in Syria[50]
March 2016. Russia refuses to attend the final Nuclear Security Summit.
September 2016 Russia and the US announce joint peace plan for Syria After meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov announce that the two countries have agreed on the provisions of a peace plan for Syria[51]
September 2016. September 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a bill to the State Duma to suspend the U.S.-Russian agreement concerning the management and disposition of plutonium designated as no longer required for defense purposes and related cooperation, according to an October 3 statement published on the Kremlin’s web site
October 2016. The Russian government has “suspended” a 2013 agreement with the USA on nuclear energy research and development and “terminated” another, signed in 2010, on cooperation in the conversion of Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel. The decisions were issued in separate documents signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the government’s website on 5 October.

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