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U.S. Warnings to China on Arms Aid for Russias War Portend Global Rift …

Posted: February 20, 2023 at 1:23 pm

MADRID When the top foreign policy officials from the United States and China appeared this weekend at Europes premier global security conference, both stressed that their governments were not seeking a new Cold War.

Yet, new warnings by U.S. officials that China may be preparing to give weapons and ammunition to Russia for its war on Ukraine portend the worst of the old Cold War.

In that decades-long shadow struggle, the United States, the Soviet Union and occasionally China poured military resources into protracted wars around the globe, engaging in bloody proxy conflicts from Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan.

American officials say that China, unlike Iran and North Korea, has over the year of the war in Ukraine refrained from giving material aid to Russia. President Biden has stressed to Xi Jinping, Chinas leader, that any such move would have far-reaching consequences.

There is no doubt that Chinas entry into the war in that manner would transform the nature of the conflict, turning it into an epochal struggle involving all three of the worlds largest superpowers and their partners on opposing sides: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea aligned against the United States, Ukraine and their European and Asian allies and partners, including Japan and South Korea.

Warnings to China from Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state made in multiple settings on Saturday and Sunday, including on television revealed that the Biden administration believes Beijing is close to crossing the line. And the fact Mr. Blinken spoke out publicly shows the desperation of the United States as it tries to dissuade Mr. Xi and his aides from doing so.

Officials in Washington and European capitals, including here in Madrid, one of the staunchest aid providers to Kyiv, say that they are bracing for a new Russian offensive in Ukraine this spring, and that they need to do everything they can this winter to blunt Russias chances of breaking through Ukrainian defenses.

Mr. Blinken confronted Chinas top foreign policy official, Wang Yi, when the two met on Saturday night on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, telling him Washington believed that China was considering providing lethal support to Russia in its efforts in Ukraine, the secretary of state said in an interview with Margaret Brennan of CBS News.

And I was able to share with him, as President Biden had shared with President Xi, the serious consequences that would have for our relationship, Mr. Blinken said.

Mr. Blinken said the aid would consist of weapons and ammunition, but he did not give details on the underlying intelligence that the Biden administration presumably has acquired.

Right before Russia invaded Ukraine last February, Moscow and Beijing unveiled a 5,000-word statement declaring a no limits partnership, stirring anxiety in Washington and in European capitals.

The United States has tried to discourage China from giving Russia military aid in part by releasing intelligence findings, which has increased global public scrutiny of any potential Chinese actions to support the Russians. In March 2022, U.S. officials told reporters from a few news organizations, including The New York Times, that Russia had asked China for aid. That disclosure took place right before Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, was to meet Yang Jiechi, Chinas top foreign policy official at the time, in Rome.

It was part of a wider strategic gambit involving use of intelligence by Washington to try to foil Russias war. In the months before President Vladimir V. Putin began his invasion, the Biden administration quickly made public declassified intelligence to try to deter him from sending in his troops.

That did not work. The intelligence proved accurate but Mr. Putin went ahead with his war.

The public comments by Mr. Blinken over the weekend, and private remarks by U.S. officials to reporters, were another chapter in that same strategy of intelligence disclosure by the Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris also warned China against supporting Russia in a speech to the Munich conference on Saturday, and U.S. officials said they have shared intelligence with allies.

American officials say China has deepened its ties with Russia during the war. And last Thursday, on the eve of the security conference, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, China stands ready to work with Russia to further advance our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.

Wang Yi, the top foreign policy official, arrived in Moscow on Monday at the end of a diplomatic tour of Europe, a trip that American officials are closely watching. Russian officials have said Mr. Xi will visit their country sometime this year. The same day, Mr. Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv and strolled in the historic city center with President Volodymyr Zelensky as air raid sirens blared.

Mr. Zelensky told a German newspaper on Monday that China giving weapons to Russia would result in a world war, and that he hoped Chinese leaders would refrain from doing so after making a practical assessment.

China has given Russia diplomatic support throughout the war, and its Foreign Ministry has officially pushed anti-American and anti-Ukrainian conspiracy theories that appear to have originated with Moscow and its allies and partners.

In January, the United States imposed sanctions on a Chinese company for giving satellite imagery to the Wagner Group, the Kremlin-aligned Russian militia that is fighting in Ukraine and is active in Africa and the Middle East. It has also penalized a few other Chinese companies for violating export controls against Russia, U.S. officials said.

The Russian military is still able to get Chinese-made commercial drones to use in the war, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The United States has few, if any, good cards to play with China. Though the two nations remain robust trade partners, relations are at one of their lowest points in decades, made worse by the crisis that erupted over the Chinese spy balloon that entered the continental United States at the start of this month.

A long readout of the meeting between Mr. Blinken and Mr. Wang issued by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, did not mention any talk of Ukraine and Russia, but did say the two officials clashed over the balloon episode, and said more broadly that the United States is using all means to block and suppress China.

Xing Yue, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said the tensions might not ease before summer. I dont think China and the U.S. can communicate in the short term, she said.

The implications are far-reaching, she said.

China-U.S. relations are not only about the two countries, she said. It is about relations between China and Western countries. Europe will be on the U.S. side on China-U.S. issues.

Some nations allied with the United States mentioned balloon violations in their own remarks over the weekend, and underscored other areas of dispute with China.

Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japans foreign minister, told Wang Yi about balloon-shaped flying objects that had appeared in Japanese airspace, according to a readout of a meeting at Munich between the two officials released by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Mr. Hayashi also cited Chinese and Russian joint military exercises near Japan, and Chinas aggressive maritime actions around the Senkaku Islands, territory that Japan administers but that China claims.

Recent public messages from other diplomats have revealed that China, Russia and the Ukraine war have been foremost in topics of conversations with Mr. Wang, who has been on a trip around Europe.

Catherine Colonna, the French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, said last week that in a meeting with Mr. Wang, there was solid discussion on Russias war of aggression in Ukraine and means for working to resolve conflict.

Italys foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said on Italian radio last Friday that Mr. Wang had told him that Mr. Xi plans to make a peace speech on the war in the coming days.

U.S. officials and some European officials say they are skeptical, asserting that Chinese officials are trying to make it appear as if China is a neutral broker seeking a peace agreement when in reality it is edging toward giving material aid to the Russian war effort.

Barry Pavel, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy research group in Washington, said in an online post that news that Mr. Xi was preparing a speech was very troubling both for why China is doing this as it also is considering lethal support to Putin, and also what form the peace plan may take and how that too, will support Putins offensive.

David Pierson contributed reporting from Singapore. Olivia Wang contributed research from Hong Kong.

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Russia – History | Britannica

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Prehistory and the rise of the Rus

Indo-European, Ural-Altaic, and diverse other peoples have occupied what is now the territory of Russia since the 2nd millennium bce, but little is known about their ethnic identity, institutions, and activities. In ancient times, Greek and Iranian settlements appeared in the southernmost portions of what is now Ukraine. Trading empires of that era seem to have known and exploited the northern forestsparticularly the vast triangular-shaped region west of the Urals between the Kama and Volga riversbut these contacts seem to have had little lasting impact. Between the 4th and 9th centuries ce, the Huns, Avars, Goths, and Magyars passed briefly over the same terrain, but these transitory occupations also had little influence upon the East Slavs, who during this time were spreading south and east from an area between the Elbe River and the Pripet Marshes. In the 9th century, as a result of penetration into the area from the north and south by northern European and Middle Eastern merchant adventurers, their society was exposed to new economic, cultural, and political forces.

The scanty written records tell little of the processes that ensued, but archaeological evidencenotably, the Middle Eastern coins found in eastern Europeindicates that the development of the East Slavs passed through several stages.

From about 770 to about 830, commercial explorers began an intensive penetration of the Volga region. From early bases in the estuaries of the rivers of the eastern Baltic region, Germanic commercial-military bands, probably in search of new routes to the east, began to penetrate territory populated by Finnic and Slavic tribes, where they found amber, furs, honey, wax, and timber products. The indigenous population offered little resistance to their incursions, and there was no significant local authority to negotiate the balance between trade, tribute, and plunder. From the south, trading organizations based in northern Iran and North Africa, seeking the same products, and particularly slaves, became active in the lower Volga, the Don, and, to a lesser extent, the Dnieper region. The history of the Khazar state is intimately connected with these activities.

About 830, commerce appears to have declined in the Don and Dnieper regions. There was increased activity in the north Volga, where Scandinavian traders who had previously operated from bases on Lakes Ladoga and Onega established a new centre, near present-day Ryazan. There, in this period, the first nominal ruler of Rus (called, like the Khazar emperor, khagan) is mentioned by Islamic and Western sources. This Volga Rus khagan state may be considered the first direct political antecedent of the Kievan state.

Within a few decades these Rus, together with other Scandinavian groups operating farther west, extended their raiding activities down the main river routes toward Baghdad and Constantinople, reaching the latter in 860. The Scandinavians involved in these exploits are known as Varangians; they were adventurers of diverse origins, often led by princes of warring dynastic clans. One of these princes, Rurik, is considered the progenitor of the dynasty that ruled in various portions of East Slavic territory until 1598 (see Rurik dynasty). Evidences of the Varangian expansion are particularly clear in the coin hoards of 900930. The number of Middle Eastern coins reaching northern regions, especially Scandinavia, indicates a flourishing trade. Written records tell of Rus raids upon Constantinople and the northern Caucasus in the early 10th century.

In the period from about 930 to 1000, the region came under complete control by Varangians from Novgorod. This period saw the development of the trade route from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which established the basis of the economic life of the Kievan principality and determined its political and cultural development.

The degree to which the Varangians may be considered the founders of the Kievan state has been hotly debated since the 18th century. The debate has from the beginning borne nationalistic overtones. Recent works by Russians have generally minimized or ignored the role of the Varangians, while non-Russians have occasionally exaggerated it. Whatever the case, the lifeblood of the sprawling Kievan organism was the commerce organized by the princes. To be sure, these early princes were not Swedes or Norwegians or Danes; they thought in categories not of nation but of clan. But they certainly were not East Slavs. There is little reason to doubt the predominant role of the Varangian Rus in the creation of the state to which they gave their name.

The consecutive history of the first East Slavic state begins with Prince Svyatoslav (died 972). His victorious campaigns against other Varangian centres, the Khazars, and the Volga Bulgars and his intervention in the Byzantine-Danube Bulgar conflicts of 968971 mark the full hegemony of his clan in Rus and the emergence of a new political force in eastern Europe. But Svyatoslav was neither a lawgiver nor an organizer; the role of architect of the Kievan state fell to his son Vladimir (c. 9801015), who established the dynastic seniority system of his clan as the political structure by which the scattered territories of Rus were to be ruled. He invited or permitted the patriarch of Constantinople to establish an episcopal see in Rus.

Vladimir extended the realm (to include the watersheds of the Don, Dnieper, Dniester, Neman, Western Dvina, and upper Volga), destroyed or incorporated the remnants of competing Varangian organizations, and established relations with neighbouring dynasties. The successes of his long reign made it possible for the reign of his son Yaroslav (ruled 101954) to produce a flowering of cultural life. But neither Yaroslav, who gained control of Kiev only after a bitter struggle against his brother Svyatopolk (101519), nor his successors in Kiev were able to provide lasting political stability within the enormous realm. The political history of Rus is one of clashing separatist and centralizing trends inherent in the contradiction between local settlement and colonization on the one hand and the hegemony of the clan elder, ruling from Kiev, on the other. As Vladimirs 12 sons and innumerable grandsons prospered in the rapidly developing territories they inherited, they and their retainers acquired settled interests that conflicted both with one another and with the interests of unity.

The conflicts were not confined to Slavic lands: the Turkic nomads who moved into the southern steppe during the 11th century (first the Torks, later the Kipchaksalso known as the Polovtsy, or Cumans) became involved in the constant internecine rivalries, and Rurikid and Turkic princes often fought on both sides. In 1097, representatives of the leading branches of the dynasty, together with their Turkic allies, met at Liubech, north of Kiev, and agreed to divide the Kievan territory among themselves and their descendants; later, however, Vladimir II Monomakh made a briefly successful attempt (111325) to reunite the land of Rus.

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Russia - History | Britannica

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Russian Empire – Wikipedia

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Empire spanning Europe and Asia from 1721 to 1917

Russian Empire

Rossiyskaya Imperiya

17211725 (first)

18941917 (last)

18101812 (first)

1917 (last)


The Russian Empire[e][f] was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended the Great Northern War. The rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighbouring rival powers: the Swedish Empire, the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth, Qajar Iran, the Ottoman Empire, and Qing China. It also held colonies in North America (in California and Alaska) between 1799 and 1867. Covering an area of approximately 22,800,000 square kilometres (8,800,000sqmi), it remains the third-largest empire in history, surpassed only by the British Empire and the Mongol Empire; it ruled over a population of 125.6 million people per the 1897 Russian census, the only census carried out during the entire imperial period. Owing to its geographic extent across three continents at its peak, it featured great ethnic, linguistic, religious, and economic diversity.

From the 10th17th centuries, the land was ruled by a noble class known as the boyars, above whom was a tsar (later adapted as the "Emperor of all the Russias"). The groundwork leading up to the establishment of the Russian Empire was laid by Ivan III (14621505): he tripled the territory of the Russian state and laid its foundation, renovating the Moscow Kremlin and also ending the dominance of the Golden Horde. From 1721 until 1762, the Russian Empire was ruled by the House of Romanov; its matrilineal branch of patrilineal German descent, the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov, ruled from 1762 until 1917. At the beginning of the 19th century, the territory of the Russian Empire extended from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea in the south, and from the Baltic Sea in the west to Alaska, Hawaii, and California in the east. By the end of the 19th century, it had expanded its control over most of Central Asia and parts of Northeast Asia. The Russian Empire entered the twentieth century in a perilous state. A devastating famine in 189192, killed millions across the empire leading to discontent among the population. Moreover, the Russian Empire was the last remaining absolute monarchy in Europe at the time which played a role in the rapid radicalization of Russian politics. During this time Communism was gaining popularity and acceptance among the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions as well as in the general population.[9] In 1905 Russia experienced a revolution in which Tsar Nicholas II authorized the creation of a parliament, the Duma although he still retained absolute political power. When Russia entered the First World War on the side of the Allies it suffered a series of defeats that further galvanized the population against the empire and the Tsar. In 1917, mass unrest among the population and mutinies in the army resulted in Russian leaders pressuring Tsar Nicholas to abdicate, which he did during the February Revolution. Following his abdication, the Russian Provisional Government was formed and created the Russian Republic. The Russian government chose to continue Russia's involvement in the war despite near universal distain for further involvement. This decision coupled with food shortages lead to mass demonstrations against the government in July. The Russian Provisional government was overthrown in the October Revolution by the Bolsheviks who ended Russia's involvement in WWI with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Russian Revolution led to the end of almost two centuries of imperial rule, making Russia one of the four continental empires which collapsed after World War I, along with Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire.[10]

Peter I (16821725) fought numerous wars and expanded an already vast empire into a major power of Europe. During his rule, he moved the Russian capital from Moscow to the new model city of Saint Petersburg, which was largely built according to designs of the Western world; he also led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval socio-political customs with a modern, scientific, rationalist, and Western-oriented system. Catherine the Great (17621796) presided over a golden age: she expanded the Russian state by conquest, colonization, and diplomacy, while continuing Peter I's policy of modernization towards a Western model. Alexander I (18011825) played a major role in defeating the militaristic ambitions of Napoleon and subsequently constituting the Holy Alliance, which aimed to restrain the rise of secularism and liberalism across Europe. The Russian Empire further expanded to the west, south, and east, concurrently establishing itself as one of the most powerful European powers. Its victories in the Russo-Turkish Wars were later checked by defeat in the Crimean War (18531856), leading to a period of reform and intensified expansion into Central Asia.[11] Alexander II (18551881) initiated numerous reforms, most notably the 1861 emancipation of all 23 million serfs. His official policy involved the responsibility of the Russian Empire towards the protection of Eastern Orthodox Christians residing within the Ottoman-ruled territories of Europe; this was one factor that later led to the Russian entry into World War I on the side of the Allied Powers against the Central Powers.

Bolshevik seizure of power resulted in the Russian Civil War, which pitted the Bolsheviks (Reds) against their adversaries (Whites).[12][13] The White Army was not a unified front and comprised the totality of the Bolsheviks' enemies on both the left and right. In 1918, the Bolsheviks executed the Romanov family, ending over three centuries of Romanov rule. After emerging victorious from the Russian Civil War in 19221923, the Bolsheviks established the Soviet Union across most of the territory of the former Russian Empire.

Though the Empire was not officially proclaimed by Tsar then Emperor Peter I until after the Treaty of Nystad (1721), some historians argue that it originated when Ivan III of Russia conquered Veliky Novgorod in 1478.[citation needed] According to another point of view, the term Tsardom, which was used after the coronation of Ivan IV in 1547, was already a contemporary Russian word for empire.[citation needed]

Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian colonization of the Pacific, the Russo-Polish War (165467), which led to the incorporation of left-bank Ukraine, and the Russian conquest of Siberia. Poland was partitioned by its three neighbours in the 17721815 era, with much of its land and population being taken under Russian rule. Most of the empire's growth in the 19th-century came from gaining territory in central and eastern Asia south of Siberia.[14] By 1795, after the Partitions of Poland, Russia became the most populous state in Europe, ahead of France.

The foundations of the Russian Empire laid during Peter I's reforms, which significantly altered Russia's political and social structure,[17] and as a result of the Great Northern War, which strengthened Russia's standing on the world stage.[18] Internal transformations and military victories contributed to the transformation of Russia into a great power, playing a major role in European politics,[19] given the realities of the new situation in the country. On the day of the announcement of the Treaty of Nystad, which was 2 November[O.S. 22 October]1721, the Senate and Synod presented the Tsar with the titles of the Pater Patriae (Russian: , tr. Otets otechestva, IPA:[tets tetstv]) and the Emperor of all the Russias.[20] It is generally accepted that with the adoption of the imperial title by Peter I, Russia turned from a tsardom into an empire, and the imperial period began in the history of the country.[21][22]

Following the reforms, Russia became ruled by an absolute monarchy. The Military Regulations made a note of the autocracy regime.[h] Even though the Holy Synod's chief prosecutor served as the church's link to the head of state, Peter I changed the patriarchal system that had previously existed into a synodal one. During the reign of Peter I, the last vestiges of a boyar's independence were lost. He transformed them into nobility, who were obedient nobles served the state for the rest of their lives. He also introduced the Table of Ranks and equated the Votchina with an estate. Russia's modern fleet was built by Peter the Great, along with an army that was reformed in the manner of European style and educational institutions (the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences). Civil lettering was adopted during Peter I's reign, and the first Russian newspaper, Vedomosti, was published. Peter I promoted the advancement of science, particularly geography and geology, trade, and industry,[23] including shipbuilding, as well as the growth of the Russian educational system. Every tenth Russian acquired an education during Peter I's reign, when there were 15 million people in the country.[24] The city of Saint Petersburg, which was built in 1703 on territory along the Baltic coast that had been conquered during the Great Northern War, served as the state's capital.

This concept of the triune Russian people, composed of the Great Russians, the Little Russians, and the Belorussians (White Russians), was introduced during the reign of Peter I, and it was associated with the name of Archimandrite Zakhary Kopystensky (1621), the Archimandrite of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Afterwards, the concept was developed in the writings of an associateof Peter I, Archbishop Professor Feofan Prokopovich. Several of Peter I's associates are well-known, including Franois Le Fort, Boris Sheremetev, Alexander Menshikov, Jacob Bruce, Mikhail Golitsyn, Anikita Repnin, and Alexey Kelin. During Peter's reign, the nobility was still required to serve, and serf labour played a significant role in the growth of the industry; therefore, Peter's objectives required the preservation of antiquated traditions. The volume of the country's international trade turnover increased as a result of Peter I's industrial reforms. However, imports of goods overtook exports, strengthening the role of foreigners in Russian trade, particularly the British domination.[25]

Peter I (16721725)also referred to as Peter the Greatplayed a major role in introducing the European state system into the Russian Empire. While the empire's vast lands had a population of 14million, grain yields trailed behind those in the West.[26] Nearly the entire population was devoted to agriculture, with only a small percentage living in towns. The class of kholops, whose status was close to that of slaves, remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter converted household kholops into house serfs, thus counting them for poll taxation. Russian agricultural kholops had been formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. They were largely tied to the land, in a feudal sense, until the late nineteenth century.

Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks. His attention then turned to the north. Russia lacked a secure northern seaport, except at Archangel on the White Sea, where the harbor was frozen for nine months a year. Access to the Baltic Sea was blocked by Sweden, whose territory enclosed it on three sides. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him, in 1699, to make a secret alliance with Saxony, the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth, and Denmark against Sweden; they conducted the Great Northern War, which ended in 1721 when an exhausted Sweden asked for peace with Russia.

As a result, Peter acquired four provinces situated south and east of the Gulf of Finland, securing access to the sea. There he built Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, on the Neva River, to replace Moscow, which had long been Russia's cultural center. This relocation expressed his intent to adopt European elements for his empire. Many of the government and other major buildings were designed under Italianate influence. In 1722, he turned his aspirations toward increasing Russian influence in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea at the expense of the weakened Safavid Persians. He made Astrakhan the centre of military efforts against Persia, and waged the first full-scale war against them in 172223.[27] Peter the Great temporarily annexed several areas of Iran to Russia, which after the death of Peter were returned in the 1732 Treaty of Resht and 1735 Treaty of Ganja as a deal to oppose the Ottomans.[28]

Peter reorganized his government based on the latest political models of the time, molding Russia into an absolutist state. He replaced the old boyar Duma (council of nobles) with a nine-member Senate, in effect a supreme council of state. The countryside was divided into new provinces and districts. Peter told the Senate that its mission was to collect taxes, and tax revenues tripled over the course of his reign. Meanwhile, all vestiges of local self-government were removed. Peter continued and intensified his predecessors' requirement of state service from all nobles, in the Table of Ranks.

As part of Peter's reorganisation, he also enacted a church reform. The Russian Orthodox Church was partially incorporated into the country's administrative structure, in effect making it a tool of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchate and replaced it with a collective body, the Holy Synod, which was led by a government official.[29]

Peter died in 1725, leaving an unsettled succession. After a short reign by his widow, Catherine I, the crown passed to empress Anna. She slowed the reforms and led a successful war against the Ottoman Empire. This resulted in a significant weakening of the Crimean Khanate, an Ottoman vassal and long-term Russian adversary.

The discontent over the dominant positions of Baltic Germans in Russian politics resulted in Peter I's daughter Elizabeth being put on the Russian throne. Elizabeth supported the arts, architecture, and the sciences (for example, the founding of Moscow University). But she did not carry out significant structural reforms. Her reign, which lasted nearly 20 years, is also known for Russia's involvement in the Seven Years' War, where it was successful militarily, but gained little politically.[30]

Catherine the Great was a German princess who married Peter III, the German heir to the Russian crown. After the death of Empress Elizabeth, Catherine came to power after she effected a coup d'tat against her unpopular husband. She contributed to the resurgence of the Russian nobility that began after the death of Peter the Great, abolishing State service and granting them control of most state functions in the provinces. She also removed the tax on beards instituted by Peter the Great.[31]

Catherine extended Russian political control over the lands of the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth, supporting the Targowica Confederation. However, the cost of these campaigns further burdened the already oppressive social system, under which serfs were required to spend almost all of their time laboring on their owners' land. A major peasant uprising took place in 1773, after Catherine legalised the selling of serfs separate from land. Inspired by a Cossack named Yemelyan Pugachev and proclaiming "Hang all the landlords!", the rebels threatened to take Moscow before they were ruthlessly suppressed. Instead of imposing the traditional punishment of drawing and quartering, Catherine issued secret instructions that the executioners should execute death sentences quickly and with minimal suffering, as part of her effort to introduce compassion into the law.[32] She furthered these efforts by ordering the public trial of Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova, a high-ranking nobleman, on charges of torturing and murdering serfs. Whilst these gestures garnered Catherine much positive attention from Europe during the Enlightenment, the specter of revolution and disorder continued to haunt her and her successors. Indeed, her son Paul introduced a number of increasingly erratic decrees in his short reign aimed directly against the spread of French culture in response to their revolution.

In order to ensure the continued support of the nobility, which was essential to her reign, Catherine was obliged to strengthen their authority and power at the expense of the serfs and other lower classes. Nevertheless, Catherine realized that serfdom must eventually be ended, going so far in her Nakaz ("Instruction") to say that serfs were "just as good as we are" a comment received with disgust by the nobility. Catherine advanced Russia's southern and western frontiers, successfully waging war against the Ottoman Empire for territory near the Black Sea, and incorporating territories of the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth during the Partitions of Poland, alongside Austria and Prussia. As part of the Treaty of Georgievsk, signed with the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, and her own political aspirations, Catherine waged a new war against Persia in 1796 after they had invaded eastern Georgia. Upon achieving victory, she established Russian rule over it and expelled the newly established Persian garrisons in the Caucasus.

Catherine's expansionist policy caused Russia to develop into a major European power,[33] as did the Enlightenment era and the Golden age in Russia. But after Catherine died in 1796, she was succeeded by her son, Paul. He brought Russia into a major coalition war against the new-revolutionary French Republic in 1797.

Russia was in a continuous state of financial crisis. While revenue rose from 9million rubles in 1724 to 40million in 1794, expenses grew more rapidly, reaching 49million in 1794. The budget allocated 46 percent to the military, 20 percent to government economic activities, 12 percent to administration, and nine percent for the Imperial Court in St. Petersburg. The deficit required borrowing, primarily from bankers in Amsterdam; five percent of the budget was allocated to debt payments. Paper money was issued to pay for expensive wars, thus causing inflation. As a result of its spending, Russia developed a large and well-equipped army, a very large and complex bureaucracy, and a court that rivaled those of Paris and London. But the government was living far beyond its means, and 18th-century Russia remained "a poor, backward, overwhelmingly agricultural, and illiterate country".[35]

In 1801, 4 years after Paul became ruler of Russia, he was killed in the Winter Palace in a coup. Paul was succeeded by a his 23-year-old son, Alexander. Russia was in a state of war with the French Republic under the leadership of the Corsica-born consul Napoleon Bonaparte. After he became the emperor, Napoleon defeated Russia at Austerlitz in 1805, Eylau and Friedland in 1807. After Alexander was defeated in Friedland, he agreed to negotiate and sued for peace with France; the Treaties of Tilsit led to the Franco-Russian alliance against the Coalition and joined the Continental System. By 1812, Russia had occupied many territories in Eastern Europe, holding some of Eastern Galicia from Austria and Bessarabia from the Ottoman Empire; from Northern Europe, it had ceded Finland from the war against weaken Sweden; it also possessed some territory in Caucasus.

Following a dispute with Emperor Alexander I, in 1812, Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia. It was catastrophic for France, whose army was decimated during the Russian winter. Although Napoleon's Grande Arme reached Moscow, the Russians' scorched earth strategy prevented the invaders from living off the country. In the harsh and bitter winter, thousands of French troops were ambushed and killed by peasant guerrilla fighters.[38] As Napoleon's forces retreated, Russian troops pursued them into Central and Western Europe and to the gates of Paris. After Russia and its allies defeated Napoleon, Alexander became known as the "saviour of Europe". He presided over the redrawing of the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna (1815), which ultimately made Alexander the monarch of Congress Poland.[39] The "Holy Alliance" was proclaimed, linking the monarchist great powers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia.

Although the Russian Empire played a leading political role in the next century, thanks to its role in defeating Napoleonic France, its retention of serfdom precluded economic progress to any significant degree. As Western European economic growth accelerated during the Industrial Revolution, Russia began to lag ever farther behind, creating new weaknesses for the Empire seeking to play a role as a great power. Russia's status as a great power concealed the inefficiency of its government, the isolation of its people, and its economic and social backwardness. Following the defeat of Napoleon, Alexander I had been ready to discuss constitutional reforms, but though a few were introduced, no major changes were attempted.[40]

The liberal Alexander I was replaced by his younger brother Nicholas I (18251855), who at the beginning of his reign was confronted with an uprising. The background of this revolt lay in the Napoleonic Wars, when a number of well-educated Russian officers travelled in Europe in the course of military campaigns, where their exposure to the liberalism of Western Europe encouraged them to seek change on their return to autocratic Russia. The result was the Decembrist revolt (December 1825), which was the work of a small circle of liberal nobles and army officers who wanted to install Nicholas' brother Constantine as a constitutional monarch. The revolt was easily crushed, but it caused Nicholas to turn away from the modernization program begun by Peter the Great and champion the doctrine of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.[41]

In order to repress further revolts, censorship was intensified, including the constant surveillance of schools and universities. Textbooks were strictly regulated by the government. Police spies were planted everywhere. Would-be revolutionaries were sent off to Siberia under Nicholas I hundreds of thousands were sent to katorga there.[42] The retaliation for the revolt made "December Fourteenth" a day long remembered by later revolutionary movements.

The question of Russia's direction had been gaining attention ever since Peter the Great's program of modernization. Some favored imitating Western Europe while others were against this and called for a return to the traditions of the past. The latter path was advocated by Slavophiles, who held the "decadent" West in contempt. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy, who preferred the collectivism of the medieval Russian obshchina or mir over the individualism of the West. More extreme social doctrines were elaborated by such Russian radicals on the left, such as Alexander Herzen, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin.

After Russian armies liberated the Eastern Georgian Kingdom (allied since the 1783 Treaty of Georgievsk) from the Qajar dynasty's occupation of 1802,[citation needed] during the Russo-Persian War (180413), they clashed with Persia over control and consolidation of Georgia, and also became involved in the Caucasian War against the Caucasian Imamate. At the conclusion of the war, Persia irrevocably ceded what is now Dagestan, eastern Georgia, and most of Azerbaijan to Russia, under the Treaty of Gulistan. Russia attempted to expand to the southwest, at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, using recently acquired Georgia at its base for its Caucasus and Anatolian front. The late 1820s were successful years militarily. Despite losing almost all recently consolidated territories in the first year of the Russo-Persian War of 182628, Russia managed to bring an end to the war with highly favourable terms granted by the Treaty of Turkmenchay, including the formal acquisition of what are now Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Idr Province. In the 182829 Russo-Turkish War, Russia invaded northeastern Anatolia and occupied the strategic Ottoman towns of Erzurum and Gmhane and, posing as protector and saviour of the Greek Orthodox population, received extensive support from the region's Pontic Greeks. Following a brief occupation, the Russian imperial army withdrew back into Georgia.[46]

Russian emperors quelled two uprisings in their newly acquired Polish territories: the November Uprising in 1830 and the January Uprising in 1863. In 1863, the Russian autocracy had given the Polish artisans and gentry reason to rebel, by assailing national core values of language, religion, and culture.[47] France, Britain, and Austria tried to intervene in the crisis but were unable to do so. The Russian press and state propaganda used the Polish uprising to justify the need for unity in the Empire.[48] The semi-autonomous polity of Congress Poland subsequently lost its distinctive political and judicial rights, with Russification being imposed on its schools and courts.[49] However, Russification policies in Poland, Finland and among the Germans in the Baltics largely failed and only strengthened political opposition.[48]

In 185455, Russia fought Britain, France and Turkey in the Crimean War, which Russia lost. The war was fought primarily in the Crimean peninsula, and to a lesser extent in the Baltic during the related land War. Since playing a major role in the defeat of Napoleon, Russia had been regarded as militarily invincible, but against a coalition of the great powers of Europe, the reverses it suffered on land and sea exposed the weakness of Emperor Nicholas I's regime.

When Emperor Alexander II ascended the throne in 1855, the desire for reform was widespread. A growing humanitarian movement attacked serfdom as inefficient. In 1859, there were more than 23million serfs in usually poor living conditions. Alexander II decided to abolish serfdom from above, with ample provision for the landowners, rather than wait for it to be abolished from below by revolution.[50]

The Emancipation Reform of 1861, which freed the serfs, was the single most important event in 19th-century Russian history, and the beginning of the end of the landed aristocracy's monopoly on power. The 1860s saw further socio-economic reforms to clarify the position of the Russian government with regard to property rights.[51] Emancipation brought a supply of free labour to the cities, stimulating industry; and the middle class grew in number and influence. However, instead of receiving their lands as a gift, the freed peasants had to pay a special lifetime tax to the government, which in turn paid the landlords a generous price for the land that they had lost. In numerous cases the peasants ended up with relatively small amounts of land. All the property turned over to the peasants was owned collectively by the mir, the village community, which divided the land among the peasants and supervised the various holdings. Although serfdom was abolished, since its abolition was achieved on terms unfavourable to the peasants, revolutionary tensions did not abate. Revolutionaries believed that the newly freed serfs were merely being sold into wage slavery in the onset of the industrial revolution, and that the urban bourgeoisie had effectively replaced the landowners.[52]

Seeking more territories, Russia obtained Priamurye (Outer Manchuria) from weaken Manchu-ruled Qing China, which fought against the Taiping Rebellion. In 1858, the Treaty of Aigun ceded much of the Manchu Homeland, and in 1860, the Treaty of Peking ceded the modern Primorsky Krai, also founded the outpost of future Vladivostok.[53] Meanwhile, Russia was hustled to the United States for 11 million rubles (7.2 million dollars) on its last territory in Russian America, Alyaska (Alaska) in 1867.[54][55] Initially, many Americans considered this newly gained territory to be a wasteland and useless, and saw the government wasting much money,[56] but later, much gold and petroleum were discovered.[57]

In the late 1870s, Russia and the Ottoman Empire again clashed in the Balkans. From 1875 to 1877, the Balkan crisis intensified, with rebellions against Ottoman rule by various Slavic nationalities, which the Ottoman Turks had dominated since the 16th century. This was seen as a political risk in Russia, which similarly suppressed its Muslims in Central Asia and Caucasia. Russian nationalist opinion became a major domestic factor with its support for liberating Balkan Christians from Ottoman rule and making Bulgaria and Serbia independent. In early 1877, Russia intervened on behalf of Serbian and Russian volunteer forces, leading to the Russo-Turkish War (187778). Within one year, Russian troops were nearing Istanbul and the Ottomans surrendered. Russia's nationalist diplomats and generals persuaded Alexander II to force the Ottomans to sign the Treaty of San Stefano in March 1878, creating an enlarged, independent Bulgaria that stretched into the southwestern Balkans. When Britain threatened to declare war over the terms of the treaty, an exhausted Russia backed down. At the Congress of Berlin in July 1878, Russia agreed to the creation of a smaller Bulgaria, including Eastern Rumelia, as a vassal state and an autonomous principality inside the Ottoman Empire, respectively. As a result, Pan-Slavists were left with a legacy of bitterness against Austria-Hungary and Germany for failing to back Russia. Disappointment at the results of the war stimulated revolutionary tensions, and helped Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro gain independence from, and strengthen themselves against, the Ottomans.

Another significant result of the 187778 Russo-Turkish War in Russia's favour was the acquisition from the Ottomans of the provinces of Batum, Ardahan, and Kars in Transcaucasia, which were transformed into the militarily administered regions of Batum Oblast and Kars Oblast. To replace Muslim refugees who had fled across the new frontier into Ottoman territory, the Russian authorities settled large numbers of Christians from ethnically diverse communities in Kars Oblast, particularly Georgians, Caucasus Greeks, and Armenians, each of whom hoped to achieve protection and advance their own regional ambitions.

In 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by the Narodnaya Volya, a Nihilist terrorist organization. The throne passed to Alexander III (18811894), a reactionary who revived the maxim of "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality" of Nicholas I. A committed Slavophile, Alexander III believed that Russia could be saved from turmoil only by shutting itself off from the subversive influences of Western Europe. During his reign, Russia formed the Franco-Russian Alliance, to contain the growing power of Germany; completed the conquest of Central Asia; and demanded important territorial and commercial concessions from China. The emperor's most influential adviser was Konstantin Pobedonostsev, tutor to Alexander III and his son Nicholas, and procurator of the Holy Synod from 1880 to 1895. Pobedonostsev taught his imperial pupils to fear freedom of speech and the press, as well as dislike democracy, constitutions, and the parliamentary system. Under Pobedonostsev, revolutionaries were persecutedby the imperial secret police, with thousands being exiled to Siberiaand a policy of Russification was carried out throughout the Empire.[64][65]

Russia had little difficulty expanding to the south, including conquering Turkestan,[66] until Britain became alarmed when Russia threatened Afghanistan, with the implicit threat to India; and decades of diplomatic maneuvering resulted, called the Great Game. That rivalry between the two empires has been considered to have included far-flung territories such as Mongolia and Tibet. The maneuvering largely ended with the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907.[68]

Expansion into the vast stretches of Siberia was slow and expensive, but finally became possible with the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, 1890 to 1904. This opened up East Asia; and Russian interests focused on Mongolia, Manchuria, and Korea. China was too weak to resist, and was pulled increasingly into the Russian sphere. Russia obtained treaty ports such as Dalian/Port Arthur. In 1900, the Russian Empire invaded Manchuria as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance's intervention against the Boxer Rebellion. Japan strongly opposed Russian expansion, and defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 19041905. Japan took over Korea, and Manchuria remained a contested area.[69]

Meanwhile, France, looking for allies against Germany after 1871, formed a military alliance in 1894, with large-scale loans to Russia, sales of arms, and warships, as well as diplomatic support. Once Afghanistan was informally partitioned in 1907, Britain, France, and Russia came increasingly close together in opposition to Germany and Austria. They formed the Triple Entente, which played a central role in the First World War. That war broke out when the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with strong German support, tried to suppress Serbian nationalism, with Russia supporting Serbia. The great powers mobilized, and Berlin decided to act before the others were ready to fight, first invading Belgium and France in the west, and then Russia in the east.[70]

In 1894, Alexander III was succeeded by his son, Nicholas II, who was committed to retaining the autocracy that his father had left him. Nicholas II proved ineffective as a ruler, and in the end his dynasty was overthrown by revolution.[73] The Industrial Revolution began to show significant influence in Russia, but the country remained rural and poor.

Economic conditions steadily improved after 1890, thanks to new crops such as sugar beets, and new access to railway transportation. Total grain production increased, as well as exports, even with rising domestic demand from population growth. As a result, there was a slow improvement in the living standards of Russian peasants in the Empire's last two decades before 1914. Recent research into the physical stature of Army recruits shows they were bigger and stronger. There were regional variations, with more poverty in the heavily populated central black earth region; and there were temporary downturns in 189193 and 19051908.[74]

On the political right, the reactionary elements of the aristocracy strongly favored the large landholders, who, however, were slowly selling their land to the peasants through the Peasants' Land Bank. The Octobrist party was a conservative force, with a base of landowners and businessmen. They accepted land reform but insisted that property owners be fully paid. They favored far-reaching reforms, and hoped the landlord class would fade away, while agreeing they should be paid for their land. Liberal elements among industrial capitalists and nobility, who believed in peaceful social reform and a constitutional monarchy, formed the Constitutional Democratic Party or Kadets.[75]

On the left, the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) and the Marxist Social Democrats wanted to expropriate the land, without payment, but debated whether to distribute the land among the peasants (the Narodnik solution), or to put it into collective local ownership.[76] The Socialist Revolutionaries also differed from the Social Democrats in that the SRs believed a revolution must rely on urban workers, not the peasantry.[77]

In 1903, at the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, in London, the party split into two wings: the gradualist Mensheviks and the more radical Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks believed that the Russian working class was insufficiently developed and that socialism could be achieved only after a period of bourgeois democratic rule. They thus tended to ally themselves with the forces of bourgeois liberalism. The Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin, supported the idea of forming a small elite of professional revolutionists, subject to strong party discipline, to act as the vanguard of the proletariat, in order to seize power by force.[78]

Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (19041905) was a major blow to the tsarist regime and further increased the potential for unrest. In January 1905, an incident known as "Bloody Sunday" occurred when Father Georgy Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the emperor. When the procession reached the palace, soldiers opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. The Russian masses were so furious over the massacre that a general strike was declared, which demanded a democratic republic. This marked the beginning of the Revolution of 1905. Soviets (councils of workers) appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity. Russia was paralyzed, and the government was desperate.[79]

In October 1905, Nicholas reluctantly issued the October Manifesto, which conceded the creation of a national Duma (legislature) to be called without delay. The right to vote was extended and no law was to become final without confirmation by the Duma. The moderate groups were satisfied, but the socialists rejected the concessions as insufficient and tried to organise new strikes. By the end of 1905, there was disunity among the reformers, and the emperor's position was strengthened for the time being.

Russia, along with France and Britain, was a member of the Entente in antecedent to World War I; these three powers were formed up in response of Germany's growing diadem,[80] one of the member of the Triple Alliance, besides Austria-Hungary and Italy. Previously, Saint Petersburg and Paris, along with London, were calumniators in the Crimean War. The relations with Britain were in disquietude from the Great Game in Central Asia until 1907, when both agreed to end the influential war and joined to anti the new rising power of Germany.[81] Russia and France's relations remained isolated before the 1890s when both sides agreed to ally when peace was threatened. France also granted loans for building infrastructure, especially railways.[83]

The relations between Russia and the Triple Alliance, especially Germany and Austria, were like those of the League of the Three Emperors. Russia's relations with Germany were deteriorating, and tensions over the Eastern question had reached a breaking point with Austria.[85] In 1910, relations between Saint Petersburg and Vienna were tense during the Balkan War.

The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, raised Europe's tensions, which led to the confrontation between Austria and Russia. Serbia rejected an Austrian ultimatum that demanded an obligation for the heir's death, and Austria cut all diplomatic ties and declared war on 28 July 1914. Russia averted Serbia because it being a compeer Slavic state, and two days later, Emperor Nicholas II ordered the mobilisation to bestow the loyalty to the Orthodox Church, not just for a similar slavic nation. Elicit in Germany demanded an ultimatum to abandon the congeries about its troops, which led to in a status of war four days later.

As a result of Vienna's declaration of war on Serbia, Nicholas II ordered the mobilisation of 4.9 million men. Germany, the Austria's ally, saw the call to arms as a threat; when Russia mustered its troops, Germany affirmed the state of "imminent danger of War",[89] followed by the declaration of war on 1 August 1914. The Russians were imbued with patriotic earnestness and Germanophobia sentiment, including the name of the capital, Saint Petersburg, which sounded too German for the sake of words Sankt- and -burg; and was thus renamed to Petrograd for more Russianised.[91]

The Russian ingress of the First World War was followed by France, which both colleagued in 1892, and feared the rise of Germany as the new power.[92] prompted Berlin to devise the Schlieffen Plan, which first eliminated France via nonaligned Belgium before moving east to inflict on Russia, whose massive army was much slower to mobilise.[93]

By August 1914, Russia had invaded the German province of East Prussia, ending with a humiliating defeat at Tannenberg, owing to the message sent without wiring and coding,[94] causing the destruction of the entire second army. Russia suffered a massive defeat at the Masurian Lakes twice, the first ending with a hundred thousand casualties; and the second suffering 200,000.[96] By October, the German Ninth Army was near Warsaw, and the newly-formed Tenth Army had retreated from the frontier in East Prussia. Grand Duke Nicholas, the Russian commander-in-chief, now had the order to invade Silesia with his Fifth, Fourth, and Ninth armies. The Ninth Army, led by Mackensen, retreated from the frontline in Galicia and concentrated between the cities of Posen and Thorn. The advance took place on 11 November against the main army's right flank and rear; the first and second armies were severely mauled, and the second army was nearly surrounded in d on 17 November.

Exhausted Russian troops began to withdraw from Russian-held Poland, allowing the Germans who captured many cities, including the Kingdom's capital Warsaw on 5 August 1915.[98] In the same month, the emperor dismissed Grand Duke Nicholas and took charge in command,[99] this was a turning point for the Russian army and the beginning of the worst disaster.[100] The Germans continued pushing the front until they were halted in the line from Riga to Tarnopol.[101] Russia lost the entire territory of Poland and Lithuania,[102] part of the Baltic states and Grodno, and partly of Volhynia and Podolia in Ukraine; the front with Germany was stable until 1917.

Austria went to war with Russia on 6 August. The Russians started to invade Galicia, held by Austrian Cisleithania on 20 August, and annihilated the Austrian Army at Lemberg, leading to the occupation of Galicia. While the fortress of Premissel was besieged, the first attempt to capture the fortress failed, but the second attempt seized the redoubt in March 1915. On 2 May, the Russian army was broken in the front and retreated from the line stretched from Gorlice to Tarnw by joint Austro-German forces and lost Premissel.

On 4 June 1916, General Aleksei Brusilov carried out an offensive to the front by targeting Kovel. His offensive was an eminence, taking 76,000 prisoners from the main attack and 1,500 from the Austrian bridgehead. But the offensive was halted by inadequate ammunition and a lack of supplies. The name-sake offensive was the most successful allied strike of World War I, but the slaughter of many casualties (approximately one million men) forced the Russian forces not to rebuild or launch any further attacks.

On 29 October 1914, a prelude to the Russo-Turkish front, the Turkish fleet, with the German support, began to raid Russian coastal cities in Odessa, Sevastopol, Novorossiysk, Feodosia, Kerch, and Yalta. Triggered Russia to join the war on 2 November. The Russians, led by Baltic German General Georgy Bergmann, opened the front by crossing the frontier but failed to capture Kyopryukyoy. In December, Russia obtained success at Sarikamish, where the Russian General Yudenich routed Enver Pasha in the battle.

By the middle of 1915, the impact of the war was demoralizing. Food and fuel were in short supply, casualties were increasing, and inflation was mounting. Strikes rose among low-paid factory workers, and there were reports that peasants, who wanted reforms of land ownership, were restless. The emperor eventually decided to take personal command of the army and moved to the front, leaving his wife, the Empress Alexandra, in charge in the capital. She fell under the spell of a monk, Grigori Rasputin (18691916). His assassination in late 1916 by a clique of nobles could not restore the emperor's lost prestige.[110]

On 3 March 1917, International Women's Day, a strike was organized at a factory in the capital, followed by thousands of people took to the streets in Petrograd to protest aliment shortages. A day later, protestors rose to two hundred thousand, who cried for Russia to withdraw from the war and the emperor to be deposed. Eighty thousand Russian troops, half of the delegations to restore order, had gone on strike and refused the high officers' orders. Any symbols of Russian imperialism were destroyed and burned. The capital was out of control of the protest and strife.

In the city of Pskov, 262 kilometres (163mi) southwest from the capital. Many generals and politicians advised the Emperor to abdicate in favour of Tsarevich; Nicholas accepted, but he bequeathed the throne to Grand Duke Michael as a legitimate successor. The Tsarist system was fully overthrowned. After a series of deportations and imprisonments, in July 1918, the Romanov family was executed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg.

By the end of the 19th century the area of the empire was about 22,400,000 square kilometers (8,600,000sqmi), or almost 16 of the Earth's landmass; its only rival in size at the time was the British Empire. The majority of the population lived in European Russia. More than 100 different ethnic groups lived in the Russian Empire, with ethnic Russians composing about 45% of the population.[114]

The administrative boundaries of European Russia, apart from Finland and its portion of Poland, coincided approximately with the natural limits of the East-European plains. To the north was the Arctic Ocean. Novaya Zemlya and the Kolguyev and Vaygach Islands were considered part of European Russia, but the Kara Sea was part of Siberia. To the east were the Asiatic territories of the Empire: Siberia and the Kyrgyz steppes, from both of which it was separated by the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea the administrative boundary, however, partly extended into Asia on the Siberian slope of the Urals. To the south, were the Black Sea and the Caucasus, being separated from the latter by the Manych River depression, which in post-Pliocene times connected the Sea of Azov with the Caspian. The western boundary was purely arbitrary: it crossed the Kola Peninsula from the Varangerfjord to the Gulf of Bothnia. It then ran to the Curonian Lagoon in the southern Baltic Sea, and then to the mouth of the Danube, taking a great circular sweep to the west to embrace east-central Poland, and separating Russia from Prussia, Austrian Galicia, and Romania.

An important feature of Russia is its few free outlets to the open sea, outside the ice-bound shores of the Arctic Ocean. The deep indentations of the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland were surrounded by what is ethnically Finnish territory, and it is only at the very head of the latter gulf that the Russians had taken firm foothold by erecting their capital at the mouth of the Neva River. The Gulf of Riga and the Baltic belong also to territory that was not inhabited by Slavs, but by Baltic and Finnic peoples, and by Germans. The east coast of the Black Sea belonged to Transcaucasia, a great chain of mountains separating it from Russia. But even this sheet of water is an inland sea, the only outlet of which, the Bosphorus, was in foreign hands, while the Caspian Sea, an immense shallow lake, mostly bordered by deserts, possessed more importance as a link between Russia and its Asiatic settlements than as a channel for intercourse with other countries.

In addition to almost the entire territory of modern Russia,[i] prior to 1917 the Russian Empire included most of Dnieper Ukraine, Belarus, Bessarabia, the Grand Duchy of Finland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Central Asian states of Russian Turkestan, most of the Baltic governorates, a significant part of Poland, and the former Ottoman provinces of Ardahan, Artvin, Idr, Kars, and the northeastern part of Erzurum Provinces.

Henry Kissinger noted that the methodological procedure how the Russian Empire started to expand their territory was in comparable to that of how the United States had done the same. Russian statesman Alexander Gorchakov justified the Russian expansion in consonance of the Manifest Destiny of the United States; thereafter, the Russian territorial expansion only encountered nomadic or feudal societies which is strikingly similar to the Western Expansion of the United States.[115]

Between 1742 and 1867, the Russian-American Company administered Alaska as a colony. The company also established settlements in Hawaii, including Fort Elizabeth (1817), and as far south in North America as Fort Ross Colony (established in 1812) in Sonoma County, California just north of San Francisco. Both Fort Ross and the Russian River in California got their names from Russian settlers, who had staked claims in a region claimed until 1821 by the Spanish as part of New Spain.

Following the Swedish defeat in the Finnish War of 18081809 and the signing of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on 17 September 1809, the eastern half of Sweden, the area that then became Finland, was incorporated into the Russian Empire as an autonomous grand duchy. The emperor eventually ended up ruling Finland as a semi-constitutional monarch through the Governor-General of Finland and a native Senate appointed by him. The Emperor never explicitly recognized Finland as a constitutional state in its own right, although his Finnish subjects came to consider the grand duchy as such.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War (180612), and the ensuing Treaty of Bucharest (1812), the eastern parts of the Principality of Moldavia, an Ottoman vassal state, along with some areas formerly under direct Ottoman rule, came under the rule of the Empire. This area (Bessarabia) was among the Russian Empire's last territorial acquisitions in Europe. At the Congress of Vienna (1815), Russia gained sovereignty over Congress Poland, which on paper was an autonomous Kingdom in personal union with Russia. However, this autonomy was eroded after an uprising in 1831, and was finally abolished in 1867.

Saint Petersburg gradually extended and consolidated its control over the Caucasus in the course of the 19th century, at the expense of Persia through the Russo-Persian Wars of 180413 and 182628 and the respectively ensuing treaties of Gulistan and Turkmenchay, as well as through the Caucasian War (18171864).

The Russian Empire expanded its influence and possessions in Central Asia, especially in the later 19th century, conquering much of Russian Turkestan in 1865 and continuing to add territory as late as 1885.

Newly discovered Arctic islands became part of the Russian Empire: the New Siberian Islands from the early 18th century; Severnaya Zemlya ("Emperor Nicholas II Land") first mapped and claimed as late as 1913.

During World War I, Russia briefly occupied a small part of East Prussia, then a part of Germany; a significant portion of Austrian Galicia; and significant portions of Ottoman Armenia. While the modern Russian Federation currently controls the Kaliningrad Oblast, which comprised the northern part of East Prussia, this differs from the area captured by the Empire in 1914, though there was some overlap: Gusev (Gumbinnen in German) was the site of the initial Russian victory.

According to the 1st article of the Organic Law, the Russian Empire was one indivisible state. In addition, the 26th article stated that "With the Imperial Russian throne are indivisible the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Principality of Finland". Relations with the Grand Principality of Finland were also regulated by the 2nd article, "The Grand Principality of Finland, constituted an indivisible part of the Russian state, in its internal affairs governed by special regulations at the base of special laws", and by the law of 10 June 1910.

Between 1744 and 1867, the empire also controlled Russian America. With the exception of this territory modern-day Alaska the Russian Empire was a contiguous mass of land spanning Europe and Asia. In this it differed from contemporary colonial-style empires. The result of this was that, while the British and French empires declined in the 20th century, a large portion of the Russian Empire's territory remained together, first within the Soviet Union, and after 1991 in the still-smaller Russian Federation.

Furthermore, the empire at times controlled concession territories, notably the Kwantung Leased Territory and the Chinese Eastern Railway, both conceded by Qing China, as well as a concession in Tianjin. See for these periods of extraterritorial control the empire of JapanRussian Empire relations.

In 1815, Dr. Schffer, a Russian entrepreneur, went to Kauai and negotiated a treaty of protection with the island's governor Kaumualii, vassal of King Kamehameha I of Hawaii, but the Russian emperor refused to ratify the treaty. See also Orthodox Church in Hawaii and Russian Fort Elizabeth.

In 1889, a Russian adventurer, Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov, tried to establish a Russian colony in Africa, Sagallo, situated on the Gulf of Tadjoura in present-day Djibouti. However this attempt angered the French, who dispatched two gunboats against the colony. After a brief resistance, the colony surrendered and the Russian settlers were deported to Odesa.

From its initial creation until the 1905 Revolution, the Russian Empire was controlled by its tsar/emperor as an absolute monarch, under a system of tsarist autocracy. After the Revolution of 1905, Russia developed a new type of government, which became difficult to categorize. In the Almanach de Gotha for 1910, Russia was described as "a constitutional monarchy under an autocratic Tsar". This contradiction in terms demonstrated the difficulty of precisely defining the system, transitional and sui generis, established in the Russian Empire after October 1905. Before this date, the fundamental laws of Russia described the power of the emperor as "autocratic and unlimited". After October 1905, while the imperial style was still "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias", the fundamental laws were changed by removing the word unlimited. While the emperor retained many of his old prerogatives, including an absolute veto over all legislation, he equally agreed to the establishment of an elected parliament, without whose consent no laws were to be enacted in Russia. Not that the regime in Russia had become in any true sense constitutional, far less parliamentary. But the "unlimited autocracy" had given way to a "self-limited autocracy". Whether this autocracy was to be permanently limited by the new changes, or only at the continuing discretion of the autocrat, became a subject of heated controversy between conflicting parties in the state. Provisionally, then, the Russian governmental system may perhaps be best defined as "a limited monarchy under an autocratic emperor".

Conservatism was the ideology of most of the Russian leadership, albeit with some reformist activities from time to time. The structure of conservative thought was based upon anti-rationalism of the intellectuals, religiosity rooted in the Russian Orthodox Church, traditionalism rooted in the landed estates worked by serfs, and militarism rooted in the army officer corps.[117] Regarding irrationality, Russia avoided the full force of the European Enlightenment, which gave priority to rationalism, preferring the romanticism of an idealized nation state that reflected the beliefs, values, and behavior of the distinctive people.[118] The distinctly liberal notion of "progress" was replaced by a conservative notion of modernization based on the incorporation of modern technology to serve the established system. The promise of modernization in the service of autocracy frightened the socialist intellectual Alexander Herzen, who warned of a Russia governed by "Genghis Khan with a telegraph".[119]

Peter the Great changed his title from tsar in 1721, when he was declared Emperor of all Russia. While later rulers did not discard the new title, the ruler of Russia was commonly known as tsar or tsaritsa until the imperial system was abolished during the February Revolution of 1917. Prior to the issuance of the October Manifesto, the emperor ruled as an absolute monarch, subject to only two limitations on his authority, both of which were intended to protect the existing system: the Emperor and his consort must both belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and he must obey the (Pauline Laws) of succession established by Paul I. Beyond this, the power of the Russian autocrat was virtually limitless.

On 17 October 1905, the situation changed: the ruler voluntarily limited his legislative power by decreeing that no measure was to become law without the consent of the Imperial Duma, a freely elected national assembly established by the Organic Law issued on 28 April 1906. However, he retained the right to disband the newly established Duma, and he exercised this right more than once. He also retained an absolute veto over all legislation, and only he could initiate any changes to the Organic Law itself. His ministers were responsible solely to him, and not to the Duma or any other authority, which could question but not remove them. Thus, while the emperor's personal powers were limited in scope after 28 April 1906, they remained formidable.

Under Russia's revised Fundamental Law of 20 February 1906, the Council of the Empire was associated with the Duma as a legislative Upper House; from this time the legislative power was exercised normally by the Emperor only in concert with the two chambers.[120]The Council of the Empire, or Imperial Council, as reconstituted for this purpose, consisted of 196 members, of whom 98 were nominated by the emperor, while 98 were elective. The ministers, also nominated, were ex officio members. Of the elected members, 3 were returned by the "black" clergy (the monks), 3 by the "white" clergy (secular), 18 by the corporations of nobles, 6 by the academy of sciences and the universities, 6 by the chambers of commerce, 6 by the industrial councils, 34 by local governmental zemstvos, 16 by local governments having no zemstvos, and 6 by Poland. As a legislative body the powers of the council were coordinate with those of the Duma; in practice, however, it has seldom if ever initiated legislation.

The Duma of the Empire or Imperial Duma (Gosudarstvennaya Duma), which formed the lower house of the Russian parliament, consisted (since the ukaz of 2 June 1907) of 442 members, elected by an exceedingly complicated process. The membership was manipulated as to secure an overwhelming majority of the wealthy (especially the landed classes) and also for the representatives of the Russian peoples at the expense of the subject nations. Each province of the Empire, except Central Asia, returned a certain number of members; added to which were those returned by several large cities. The members of the Duma were chosen by electoral colleges and these, in their turn, were elected by assemblies of the three classes: landed proprietors, citizens, and peasants. In these assemblies the wealthiest proprietors sat in person while the lesser proprietors were represented by delegates. The urban population was divided into two categories according to taxable wealth and elected delegates directly to the college of the governorates. The peasants were represented by delegates selected by the regional subdivisions called volosts. Workmen were treated in a special manner, with every industrial concern employing fifty hands electing one or more delegates to the electoral college.

In the college itself, the voting for the Duma was by secret ballot and a simple majority carried the day. Since the majority consisted of conservative elements (the landowners and urban delegates), the progressives had little chance of representation at all, save for the curious provision that one member at least in each government was to be chosen from each of the five classes represented in the college. That the Duma had any radical elements was mainly due to the peculiar franchise enjoyed by the seven largest towns Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kyiv, Odesa, Riga, and the Polish cities of Warsaw and d. These elected their delegates to the Duma directly, and though their votes were divided (on the basis of taxable property) in such a way as to give the advantage to wealth, each returned the same number of delegates.

In 1905, a Council of Ministers (Sovyet Ministrov) was created, under a minister president, the first appearance of a prime minister in Russia. This council consisted of all the ministers and of the heads of other principal departments. The ministries were as follows:

The Most Holy Synod (established in 1721) was the supreme organ of government of the Orthodox Church in Russia. It was presided over by a lay procurator, representing the Emperor, and consisted of the three metropolitans of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Kiev, the archbishop of Georgia, and a number of bishops sitting in rotation.

The Senate (Pravitelstvuyushchi Senat, i.e. directing or governing senate), originally established during the government reform of Peter I, consisted of members nominated by the emperor. Its wide variety of functions were carried out by the different departments into which it was divided. It was the supreme court of cassation; an audit office; a high court of justice for all political offences; and one of its departments fulfilled the functions of a heralds' college. It also had supreme jurisdiction in all disputes arising out of the administration of the Empire, notably in differences between representatives of the central power and the elected organs of local self-government. Lastly, it promulgated new laws, a function which theoretically gave it a power akin to that of the Supreme Court of the United States, of rejecting measures not in accordance with fundamental laws.

As of 1914, Russia was divided into 81 governorates (guberniyas), 20 oblasts, and 1 okrug. Vassals and protectorates of the Russian Empire included the Emirate of Bukhara, the Khanate of Khiva, and, after 1914, Tuva (Uriankhai). Of these, 11 Governorates, 17 oblasts, and 1 okrug (Sakhalin) belonged to Asian Russia. Of the rest, 8 Governorates were in Finland and 10 in Congress Poland. European Russia thus embraced 59 governorates and 1 oblast (that of the Don). The Don Oblast was under the direct jurisdiction of the ministry of war; the rest each had a governor and deputy-governor, the latter presiding over the administrative council. In addition, there were governors-general, generally placed over several governorates and armed with more extensive powers, usually including the command of the troops within the limits of their jurisdiction. In 1906, there were governors-general in Finland, Warsaw, Vilna, Kiev, Moscow, and Riga. The larger cities (Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Sevastopol, Kerch, Nikolayev, and Rostov) had administrative systems of their own, independent of the governorates; in these the chief of police acted as governor.

The judicial system of the Russian Empire was established by the statute of 20 November 1864 of Alexander II. This system based partly on English and French law was predicated on the separation of judicial and administrative functions, the independence of the judges and courts, public trials and oral procedure, and the equality of all classes before the law. Moreover, a democratic element was introduced by the adoption of the jury system and the election of judges. This system was disliked by the bureaucracy, due to its putting the administration of justice outside of the executive sphere. During the latter years of Alexander II and the reign of Alexander III, power that had been given was gradually taken back, and that take back was fully reversed by the third Duma after the 1905 Revolution.[j]

The system established by the law of 1864 had two wholly separate tribunals, each having their own courts of appeal and coming in contact with each other only in the Senate, which acted as the supreme court of cassation. The first tribunal, based on the English model, were the courts of the elected justices of the peace, with jurisdiction over petty causes, whether civil or criminal; the second, based on the French model, were the ordinary tribunals of nominated judges, sitting with or without a jury to hear important cases.

Alongside the local organs of the central government in Russia there are three classes of local elected bodies charged with administrative functions:

Since 1870, the municipalities in European Russia had institutions like those of the zemstvos. All owners of houses, tax-paying merchants, artisans, and workmen were enrolled on lists, in descending order according to their assessed wealth. The total valuation was then divided into three equal parts, representing three groups of electors very unequal in number, each of which would elect an equal number of delegates to the municipal duma. The executive was in the hands of an elected mayor and an uprava, which consisted of several members elected by the municipal duma. Under Alexander III, however, by-laws promulgated in 1892 and 1894, the municipal dumas were subordinated to the governors in the same way as the zemstvos. In 1894, municipal institutions, with still more restricted powers, were granted to several towns in Siberia, and in 1895 to some in the Caucasus.

The formerly Swedish-controlled Baltic provinces of Livonia and Estonia and later Duchy of Courland, a vassal of PolishLithuanian Commonwealth, were incorporated into the Russian Empire after the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War. Under the Treaty of Nystad of 1721, the Baltic German nobility retained considerable powers of self-government and numerous privileges in matters affecting education, police, and the local administration of justice. After 167 years of German language administration and education, in 1888 and 1889 laws were passed transferring administration of the police and manorial justice from Baltic German control to officials of the central government. About the same time, a process of Russification was being carried out in the same provinces, in all departments of administration, in the higher schools, and in the Imperial University of Dorpat, the name of which was altered to Yuriev. In 1893, district committees for the management of the peasants' affairs, similar to those in purely Russian governments, were introduced into this part of the Empire.

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Russia Travel Guide | Places to Visit in Russia | Rough Guides

Posted: at 1:23 pm

Where to go in Russia

Moscow, Russias bustling capital, combines the frenetic energy of an Eastern city with the cosmopolitan feel of a Western one. With its show-stopping architecture from the tsarist palaces of the Kremlin and the onion domes of St Basils Cathedral, through the monumental relics of the Communist years, to the massive building projects of today and the impersonal human tide that packs its streets and subways, the metropolis can feel rather overwhelming. By contrast, St Petersburg, Russias second city, is Europe at its most gracious, an attempt by the eighteenth-century tsar Peter the Great to emulate the best of Western European elegance in what was then a far-flung outpost. Its people are more relaxed and friendly, and its position in the delta of the River Neva is unparalleled, giving it endless watery vistas. Visible often ostentatious but uneven wealth creation in both cities has made them twin figureheads for Russias recent high-speed renaissance.

Population 142 million

Area 17,075,400 sq km (including six thousand islands)

Language Russian

Currency Ruble (R)

Capital Moscow (population: 10.5 million)

International phone codet 7









Thank you


Hello/Good day



Da svidaneya

Excuse me

























How much is?


Sklka styit?

What time is it?


Katree chass?

I dont understand

Ya ne ponimyou

Do you speak English?


Vwee gavoretye po angliyski?

Where are the toilets?


Gdye tualyt?

My name is

Meny zavot

What is your name?


Kak vas zavot?

I dont speak Russian


Ya nye gavaryo pa-rosski

Can I have









I am a vegetarian

Ya vegetariynets

The bill, please


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China hits back at U.S. allegations it is providing Russia help in its war in Ukraine – NBC News

Posted: at 1:23 pm

  1. China hits back at U.S. allegations it is providing Russia help in its war in Ukraine  NBC News
  2. As Biden visits Ukraine, China's top diplomat goes to Russia  CNN
  3. China Says U.S. Is Not Qualified to Issue Orders on Arms  The New York Times

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Russia | History, Flag, Population, Map, President, & Facts

Posted: February 18, 2023 at 5:52 am

Recent News

Feb. 17, 2023, 4:03 PM ET (AP)

The Pentagon says the first class of 635 Ukrainian fighters has finished a five-week advanced U.S. training course in Germany on sophisticated combat skills and armored vehicles that will be critical in the coming spring offensive against the Russians

Russia, country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Russia is a land of superlatives. By far the worlds largest country, it covers nearly twice the territory of Canada, the second largest. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and the eastern third of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms, from deserts to semiarid steppes to deep forests and Arctic tundra. Russia contains Europes longest river, the Volga, and its largest lake, Ladoga. Russia also is home to the worlds deepest lake, Baikal, and the country recorded the worlds lowest temperature outside the North and South poles.

The inhabitants of Russia are quite diverse. Most are ethnic Russians, but there also are more than 120 other ethnic groups present, speaking many languages and following disparate religious and cultural traditions. Most of the Russian population is concentrated in the European portion of the country, especially in the fertile region surrounding Moscow, the capital. Moscow and St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) are the two most important cultural and financial centres in Russia and are among the most picturesque cities in the world. Russians are also populous in Asia, however; beginning in the 17th century, and particularly pronounced throughout much of the 20th century, a steady flow of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people moved eastward into Siberia, where cities such as Vladivostok and Irkutsk now flourish.

Russias climate is extreme, with forbidding winters that have several times famously saved the country from foreign invaders. Although the climate adds a layer of difficulty to daily life, the land is a generous source of crops and materials, including vast reserves of oil, gas, and precious metals. That richness of resources has not translated into an easy life for most of the countrys people, however; indeed, much of Russias history has been a grim tale of the very wealthy and powerful few ruling over a great mass of their poor and powerless compatriots. Serfdom endured well into the modern era; the years of Soviet communist rule (191791), especially the long dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, saw subjugation of a different and more exacting sort.

The Russian republic was established immediately after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became a union republic in 1922. During the post-World War II era, Russia was a central player in international affairs, locked in a Cold War struggle with the United States. In 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia joined with several other former Soviet republics to form a loose coalition, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Although the demise of Soviet-style communism and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union brought profound political and economic changes, including the beginnings of the formation of a large middle class, for much of the postcommunist era Russians had to endure a generally weak economy, high inflation, and a complex of social ills that served to lower life expectancy significantly. Despite such profound problems, Russia showed promise of achieving its potential as a world power once again, as if to exemplify a favourite proverb, stated in the 19th century by Austrian statesman Klemens, Frst (prince) von Metternich: Russia is never as strong as she appears, and never as weak as she appears.

Russia can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences. Prerevolutionary Russian society produced the writings and music of such giants of world culture as Anton Chekhov, Aleksandr Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The 1917 revolution and the changes it brought were reflected in the works of such noted figures as the novelists Maxim Gorky, Boris Pasternak, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the composers Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergey Prokofiev. And the late Soviet and postcommunist eras witnessed a revival of interest in once-forbidden artists such as the poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anna Akhmatova while ushering in new talents such as the novelist Victor Pelevin and the writer and journalist Tatyana Tolstaya, whose celebration of the arrival of winter in St. Petersburg, a beloved event, suggests the resilience and stoutheartedness of her people:

The snow begins to fall in October. People watch for it impatiently, turning repeatedly to look outside. If only it would come! Everyone is tired of the cold rain that taps stupidly on windows and roofs. The houses are so drenched that they seem about to crumble into sand. But then, just as the gloomy sky sinks even lower, there comes the hope that the boring drum of water from the clouds will finally give way to a flurry ofand there it goes: tiny dry grains at first, then an exquisitely carved flake, two, three ornate stars, followed by fat fluffs of snow, then more, more, morea great store of cotton tumbling down.

For the geography and history of the other former Soviet republics, see Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine. See also Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Russia is bounded to the north and east by the Arctic and Pacific oceans, and it has small frontages in the northwest on the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg and at the detached Russian oblast (region) of Kaliningrad (a part of what was once East Prussia annexed in 1945), which also abuts Poland and Lithuania. To the south Russia borders North Korea, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. To the southwest and west it borders Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Finland and Norway.

Extending nearly halfway around the Northern Hemisphere and covering much of eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia, Russia has a maximum east-west extent of some 5,600 miles (9,000 km) and a north-south width of 1,500 to 2,500 miles (2,500 to 4,000 km). There is an enormous variety of landforms and landscapes, which occur mainly in a series of broad latitudinal belts. Arctic deserts lie in the extreme north, giving way southward to the tundra and then to the forest zones, which cover about half of the country and give it much of its character. South of the forest zone lie the wooded steppe and the steppe, beyond which are small sections of semidesert along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. Much of Russia lies at latitudes where the winter cold is intense and where evaporation can barely keep pace with the accumulation of moisture, engendering abundant rivers, lakes, and swamps. Permafrost covers some 4 million square miles (10 million square km)an area seven times larger than the drainage basin of the Volga River, Europes longest rivermaking settlement and road building difficult in vast areas. In the European areas of Russia, the permafrost occurs in the tundra and the forest-tundra zone. In western Siberia permafrost occurs along the Yenisey River, and it covers almost all areas east of the river, except for south Kamchatka province, Sakhalin Island, and Primorsky Kray (the Maritime Region).

On the basis of geologic structure and relief, Russia can be divided into two main partswestern and easternroughly along the line of the Yenisey River. In the western section, which occupies some two-fifths of Russias total area, lowland plains predominate over vast areas broken only by low hills and plateaus. In the eastern section the bulk of the terrain is mountainous, although there are some extensive lowlands. Given these topological factors, Russia may be subdivided into six main relief regions: the Kola-Karelian region, the Russian Plain, the Ural Mountains, the West Siberian Plain, the Central Siberian Plateau, and the mountains of the south and east.

Kola-Karelia, the smallest of Russias relief regions, lies in the northwestern part of European Russia between the Finnish border and the White Sea. Karelia is a low, ice-scraped plateau with a maximum elevation of 1,896 feet (578 metres), but for the most part it is below 650 feet (200 metres); low ridges and knolls alternate with lake- and marsh-filled hollows. The Kola Peninsula is similar, but the small Khibiny mountain range rises to nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). Mineral-rich ancient rocks lie at or near the surface in many places.

Western Russia makes up the largest part of one of the great lowland areas of the world, the Russian Plain (also called the East European Plain), which extends into Russia from the western border eastward for 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to the Ural Mountains and from the Arctic Ocean more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea. About half of this vast area lies at elevations of less than 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level, and the highest point (in the Valdai Hills, northwest of Moscow) reaches only 1,125 feet (343 metres). Nevertheless, the detailed topography is quite varied. North of the latitude on which Moscow lies, features characteristic of lowland glacial deposition predominate, and morainic ridges, of which the most pronounced are the Valdai Hills and the Smolensk Upland, which rises to 1,050 feet (320 metres), stand out above low, poorly drained hollows interspersed with lakes and marshes. South of Moscow there is a west-east alternation of rolling plateaus and extensive plains. In the west the Central Russian Upland, with a maximum elevation of 950 feet (290 metres), separates the lowlands of the upper Dnieper River valley from those of the Oka and Don rivers, beyond which the Volga Hills rise gently to 1,230 feet (375 metres) before descending abruptly to the Volga River. Small river valleys are sharply incised into these uplands, whereas the major rivers cross the lowlands in broad, shallow floodplains. East of the Volga is the large Caspian Depression, parts of which lie more than 90 feet (25 metres) below sea level. The Russian Plain also extends southward through the Azov-Caspian isthmus (in the North Caucasus region) to the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, the crest line of which forms the boundary between Russia and the Transcaucasian states of Georgia and Azerbaijan; just inside this border is Mount Elbrus, which at 18,510 feet (5,642 metres) is the highest point in Russia. The large Kuban and Kuma plains of the North Caucasus are separated by the Stavropol Upland at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 metres).

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United States tells citizens: Leave Russia immediately | Reuters

Posted: at 5:52 am

MOSCOW, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The United States has told its citizens to leave Russia immediately due to the war in Ukraine and the risk of arbitrary arrest or harassment by Russian law enforcement agencies.

"U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately," the U.S. embassy in Moscow said. "Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions."

"Do not travel to Russia," it added.

"Russian security services have arrested U.S. citizens on spurious charges, singled out U.S. citizens in Russia for detention and harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and convicted them in secret trials or without presenting credible evidence," the embassy said.

"Russian authorities arbitrarily enforce local laws against U.S. citizen religious workers and have opened questionable criminal investigations against U.S. citizens engaged in religious activity."

[1/6]Vehicles drive past the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia February 13, 2023. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

The Kremlin said it was not the first time U.S. citizens had been asked to leave Russia. The last such public warning was in September after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation.

"They (warnings) have been voiced by the State Department many times in the last period, so this is not a new thing," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

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The Federal Security Service(FSB) said in January that prosecutors had opened a criminal case against a United States citizen on suspicion of espionage.

Last December, U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was released in a prisoner swap, having been sentenced to nine years in a penal colony for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil - which is banned in Russia - after a judicial process labelled a sham by Washington.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, is serving a 16-year sentence in a Russian penal colony after being convicted of espionage charges that Washington also says are a sham.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Nearly Russia’s entire army is in Ukraine, suffering ‘1st World War …

Posted: at 5:52 am

Ukrainian soldier in Vuhledar Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russia has stepped up its offensive in eastern Ukraine in the past few weeks, but U.S. and European officials say it has insufficient ground forces or equipment to get very far. Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely pushing Russia's military to secure tangible gains he can celebrate on the first anniversary of his invasion on Feb. 24, Western analysts say, but the poorly trained conscripts Moscow is throwing into battle are making only minor gains and taking heavy losses.

Russia's forces are too spread out along the frontline "to punch through in a big offensive," and "we've just seen an effort to advance, and that has come at a huge cost to the Russian army," British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC News on Wednesday. Russia is incurring "almost First World War levels of attrition, and with success rates of a matter of meters rather than kilometers."

"We now estimate 97 percent of the Russian army, the whole Russian army, is in Ukraine," Wallace added. The U.S. military estimated last week that Russia has dedicated about 80 percent of its ground force to the Ukraine invasion.

London's International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated Wednesday that Russia has lost between 100,000 and 150,000 troops to death or injury in Ukraine, along with more than 2,000 tanks,including half the country's modern tanks.Wallace cited reports that "a whole Russian brigade was effectively annihilated" in Moscow's assault on Vuhledar, where Russia "lost over 1,000 people in two days."

The battle for Vuhledar, a Ukrainian stronghold in Donetsk province at the crossroads of the war's eastern and southern fronts, "has been viewed as an opening move in an expected Russian spring offensive," The New York Times reports. But "as they have done throughout the war, the Russian commanders made some basic mistakes, in this case failing to take into account the terrain open fields littered with antitank mines or the strength of the Ukrainian forces."

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Col. Oleksii Dmytrashkivskyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian military forces in the area, told the Times that Russia's 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades, two of the country's most elite units, were decimated in Vuhledar.

Ukraine is suffering heavy losses, too, and it is running through ammunition so fast Western allies are warning they can't keep up with Ukraine's demand. Still, Russia's new offensive is "likely more aspirational than realistic," a senior Pentagon official told CNN. This offensive probably won't succeed any better than past attempts, a senior British military official added, "though they do seem willing to send more troops into the meat grinder."

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Nearly Russia's entire army is in Ukraine, suffering '1st World War levels of attrition,' U.K. says

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Nearly Russia's entire army is in Ukraine, suffering '1st World War ...

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Russia warns United States: we have the might to put you in your place

Posted: at 5:52 am

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Russia warned the United States on Thursday that Moscow had the might to put the world's pre-eminent superpower in its place and accused the West of stoking a wild Russophobic plot to tear Russia apart.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, said the United States had stoked "disgusting" Russophobia in an attempt to force Russia to its knees.

"It will not work - Russia has the might to put all of our brash enemies in their place," Medvedev said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the United States and its European and Asian allies have slapped sanctions on Russian leaders, companies and businessmen, cutting off Russia from much of the world economy.

President Vladimir Putin says that what he calls the special military operation in Ukraine was necessary because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Russia had to defend against the "genocide" of Russian-speaking people by Ukraine.

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Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and that Putin's claims of genocide are nonsense. The West says claims it wants to rip Russia apart are fiction.

Russia says that despite sanctions it can fare well without what it casts as a deceitful and decadent West led by the United States. It says its bid to forge ties with the West after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union is now over and that it will develop ties with other powers such as China.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge

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Why is South Africa’s navy joining exercises with Russia and China? – BBC

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  1. Why is South Africa's navy joining exercises with Russia and China?  BBC
  2. Russia to test missile in drills with China and South Africa  ABC News
  3. Russia to test new hypersonic missile in drills with China and South Africa  The Associated Press - en Espaol

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