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Russia : Country Review
Spanning 11 time zones, Russia is the largest country on earth in terms of surface area, although large tracts in the north and east are inhospitable and sparsely populated. In 1547, Ivan IV (the Terrible) was crowned czar of Russia, beginning a tradition of czarist rule and expansionism. Czarist rule continued until the 1917 Russian Revolution that overthrew the imperial household and the Communists, under Vladimir Lenin, seized power. Civil war broke out in 1918 between the Red Army and White Russians, or anti-communists, and lasted until 1920 when the Bolsheviks triumphed. After the Red army conquered Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, a new nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), was formed in 1922. The brutal rule of Josef Stalin (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule, and in the 1930s the country saw the forced collectivization of tens of millions of its citizens in state agricultural and industrial enterprises. Millions died in the process, and millions more died in political purges. The Soviet Union emerged from World War II with extended influence, occupying many Eastern European nations. Mikhail Gorbachev took office in 1985 and introduced openness and a restructuring of the government. The new political climate resulted in the ultimate breakup of the Soviet Union, and by late 1991 Russia and 14 other former Soviet republics emerged as independent states. Russia is endowed with vast natural resources, including oil, natural gas, coal, and timber. It holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is also the world's largest exporter of natural gas, and the second largest oil exporter.
Editor's note --
Ukraine's "Maidan" uprising of 2013 and 2014, resulting in the removal of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych from office and the dismantling of his authority in 2014, were signs that Ukraine was actively resisting influence from Moscow. They were also clear signals that Ukraine was determined to set its own course -- and quite likely in the direction of Europe. The people of Ukraine were delivering Russia a clear message that they would be the agents of their own self-determination. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not in a mood to receive that message.
The invasion and de facto annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea by Russia, under the guise of "protecting" the Russian ethno-linguistic population, showed that Russia felt entitled to stake a claim on Ukraine. For the wider world, this action recalled alarming memories of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, under the aegis of the Brezhnev Policy, to subdue the independence-minded Prague Spring . It also evoked suggestions that Putin was attempting to recraft a Cold War Russian quasi-empire in the mold of the former Soviet Union.
While the "Maidan" or Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev would be stamped in the history books as "Ground Zero" of Ukraine's 2014 unrest, the battleground had clearly move eastward with Crimea as a new flashpoint. But with fighting going on elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, and with "new Russia" enclaves been declared in Donetsk and Luhansk later in 2014, it was evident that Russia would not end its Ukrainian adventure at the borders of Crimea.
At stake were Russian ambitions to regain territory lost following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The reality was that Russia was attempting to destabilize Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian cabals in eastern Ukraine, and with an eye on establishing southern and eastern Ukraine as part of Vladimir Putin's "new Russia."
It was to be seen if the landscape in eastern Europe represented the foundation for a renewed Cold War between the East and West. Given the geopolitical and geostrategic stakes, the outcome was clearly being textured by bloodshed and tears. Russian President Putin was banking on the West's rationality and its reluctance to be drawn into another conflict -- especially one on European soil. From the point of view of United States President Barack Obama, the very notion of a Cold War being in the offing was to be dismissed. According to President Obama, Russia was no longer a superpower and was now operating from a position of weakness as it intimidated neighbors such as Ukraine. But the tragic downing of a commercial airliner in eastern Ukraine in July 2014 raised the geopolitical stakes, and has since spurred the West to apply economic sanctions to Russia.
Economic pressures may have played a hand in forcing Russia to the negotiating table and the forging of two separate ceasefire agreements in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. But, to date, neither Minsk ceasefire agreement has managed to stem the flow of blood, and the encroachment of pro-Russian forces into eastern Ukrainian territory.
In the long run, the outcome to this story was yet to be written.
|Real Gross Domestic Product (LCU billions 2005 base)||63031.247947||60682.119385||60220.495351||60863.881057||61594.401648|
|Real GDP Growth Rate (%)||0.706420||-3.726926||-0.760724||1.068383||1.200253|
|Population, total (million)||143.429000||143.457000||143.440000||143.375000||143.261000|
|Inflation, GDP Deflator (%)||8.986030||7.681484||6.699459||5.352580||4.415910|
|Official Exchange Rate (LCU/$US)||38.378191||60.937658||67.490918||63.161626||62.911182|
|Total Foreign Exchange Reserves ($US billions)||386.216377||368.042945||327.117396||387.647802||419.201162|
Average Daily Temperature
|Annual Rainfall :||20.1"|
|Christian (Russian Orthodox)||0.00 %|