Russian Federation. According to
countryaah, the Russian economy was squeezed by
low oil prices and sanctions from the west. GDP fell and,
according to the government, the budget must be cut by one
tenth in 2016. At the same time, loans were promised to
affected regions and investments to save industries and
agriculture. The sanctions due to Russian intervention in
Ukraine were extended during the year by both the US and the EU.
In March, President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on the
two-year anniversary of the Russian annexation, and in April
the Crimean Tatars' governing body was banned. A Russian
court sentenced a female Ukrainian fighter pilot to 22 years
in prison accused of killing two Russian journalists. She
claimed innocence and in the West demanded her release. In
May, she was released and exchanged for two Russian soldiers
arrested in Ukraine.
The oppression of human rights was hardened, among other
things, the human rights organization Memorial was stamped
as a foreign agent. The Kremlin dismissed a ruling by the
European Court of Human Rights that opposition politician
Aleksey Navalnyj would receive damages for unfair trial in
2013, when he was convicted of embezzlement.
In April, Putin announced a new security force, the
National Guard, which would be under his direct command and
used in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. It
was to be based on riot police units, and critics feared it
would be used to knock down demonstrations.
Human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina was awarded in
Stockholm the so-called alternative Nobel Prize, the Right
Livelihood Award. She leads the Citizens Support Committee,
which provides legal assistance to migrants and refugees.
In May, Russian military armament was announced on the
archipelago of Kurils, which is disputed between Japan and
the Russian Federation. During the summer, large Russian
military maneuvers were held in Crimea, as well as near the
borders with Ukraine and the Baltics.
Relations with Turkey thawed during the year, the two
presidents met and agreed on cooperation against terrorism.
The military chiefs of the countries also met. In the West,
this was seen with concern, as both countries cracked down
increasingly on regime critics and emerged as a Western
hostile coalition. The relationship between the two regimes
did not appear to be damaged despite the murder of the
Russian ambassador to Turkey at the end of the year.
At home, Putin replaced a longtime close associate, Chief
of Staff Sergei Ivanov. His successor was Anton Vaino,
grandson of the Soviet Communist leader in Estonia.
Before the September parliamentary elections, independent
election observer Golos was forced to close after court
decisions. Golos was stamped as a foreign agent and
sentenced to high fines. The country's last major
independent opinion institute, Levada, received the same
stamp two weeks before the election.
As expected, the election turned out to be a superior
victory for Putin's power party United Russia, which,
according to official figures, performed strongly, taking
54.2% of the vote and 343 of the dum's 450 seats. The
Communist Party received 42 seats, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
Liberal Democrats 39 and A Fair Russia 23 seats. No real
opposition candidate entered the duma.
Turnout was the lowest in modern times, 47.8%. According
to the OSCE, the election campaign was governed by the
power's grip on the media and society in general. Electoral
cheating was reported from many directions.
After the election, Putin appointed his Vice-Chancellor
and former KGB employee Vjatjeslav Volodin as the new
President in the Duma.
Foreign policy intensified the confrontation in Syria,
where the Russian air force bombed the regime.
Russian-American talks were conducted on a ceasefire plan
between the warring parties in Syria, but they mainly led to
temporary bomb stops in Aleppo. In September, the United
States accused Russian war plan of bombing an aid shipment
in Syria, when many aid workers were killed and trucks
destroyed. The Kremlin rejected the charges.
International investigators found in September that it
was a Russian-made missile used against the Malaysian
passenger plane that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. The
missile must have been fired from a site controlled by
Prorian separatists. Moscow rejected the charges.
The tense relationship with the US deteriorated when the
Kremlin withdrew from an old agreement in October on how to
handle plutonium left over for nuclear weapons
manufacturing. In order to return to the agreement, Moscow
stipulated that the United States should lift its sanctions
and withdraw its forces from the Baltic countries, among
others. At the same time, the United States withdrew from
the talks on ceasefire in Syria and referred to Russian
bombings against Aleppo. Instead, at the end of the year,
Moscow and Ankara established a ceasefire between the Syrian
regime and some of the country's rebels, but not the Islamic
The tension in the Baltic Sea area increased when Moscow
in October stationed additional Iskander robots in
Kaliningrad. They had the opportunity to carry nuclear
weapons. The decision was said to be a response to the US
missile defense in Europe and the stationing of soldiers in
the Baltics and Poland. Subsequently, two Russian warships
entered the Baltic Sea with long-range robots that can be
loaded with nuclear weapons.
Moscow rejected US allegations of influence in the US
presidential election through cyberattacks. At the same
time, state-run Russian media campaigned against Hillary
Clinton, painting her as a warrior and an enemy of the
Russian people. When Donald Trump won the presidential
election, he received warm congratulations from President
Putin. In December, the US expelled a large number of
Russian diplomats in revenge for the suspected cyberattacks.
Moscow waited with response measures.
During the year, the Russian Federation voted away from
the UN Human Rights Council. Human rights organizations had
called for this because of the Russian bombings in Syria.
In January 2015, the Duma first enacted a new law against
foreign NGOs that would allow the authorities to ban them
when they "pose a threat to national defense, public
security or public health". The law was in line with the law
against «foreign agents» in 2012 and was to be used to
suppress criticism of the authorities. In September, the
human rights organization HRC Memorial was fined 600,000
rubles because its sister organization Historical and
Educational Center Memorial had not marked its publications
with "Foreign agent". HRC lost the appeal case.
In February, system critic Boris Nemtsov was assassinated
in Moscow. He had been strongly critical of Russia's
intervention in eastern Ukraine and had been collecting
material for a report to document that Russian soldiers were
active in eastern Ukraine. Police subsequently confiscated
all his papers and his computer. A number of Chechens were
arrested and charged with the murder.
On May 9, Russia celebrated the 70th anniversary of the
victory over Nazism. 500,000 Russians and foreigners took
part in the Moscow sailing parade. The US and the EU
boycotted the parade, but 15 presidents (from China, India,
South Africa and Cuba, among others) participated with UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
In September 2015, Russia surprisingly intervened in the
Syrian civil war as it sent hundreds of bombers and fighters
to Syria to bomb IS and other armed opposition groups. While
the West's "bombing" of IS had no visible effect, the
Russian bombings quickly produced visible results, with IS's
oil exports to Turkey almost stalling. IS was squeezed
financially and had to be compensated from Turkey, Saudi
Arabia and the Gulf states. The West sharply criticized the
Russian bombings, claiming that they were almost exclusively
targeting opposition groups other than IS. IS was of a
different view and dropped a bomb in a plane with Russian
tourists over Sinai in late October.
From the beginning of the war effort, Russia was very
interested in avoiding friction with the US and Israel's
intervention in the Syrian civil war and therefore
established an exchange of information on overflying and
bombing of Syria. However, both Turkey, the Gulf states and
Saudi Arabia were fiercely critical of the Russian effort
that pushed the Islamic opposition and strengthened the
Assad regime. In November, Turkey therefore shot down a
Russian plane over northern Syria. Turkey wanted to involve
NATO in a confrontation with Russia. It failed and instead
Turkey came to pay a high economic price for its military
attack. Russia stopped economic cooperation and the flow of
tourism to Turkey, where 2 million. Russians otherwise
annually vacationed. Russia failed to respond militarily to
Turkey, but instead bombed the Turkmen rebels in northern
Syria, supported militarily by Turkey. In June 2016, Turkey
had to officially apologize for the shootings against Russia
in an attempt to normalize relations.
The Russian bombings put the rebels under heavy pressure,
and in January 2016 new peace talks in Geneva could be
initiated under the UN leadership. The peace talks took
place on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution from
December. On the basis of negotiations and resolution, a
ceasefire agreement was concluded in February between the
Assad government on the one hand and the opposition - apart
from IS and all the Nusra front - on the other. Russia then
ceased its bombing of the part of the opposition that
participated in the ceasefire but continued to bomb IS. In
March, President Putin declared that Russia's military
targets in Syria had been largely met and began to withdraw
fighter planes. However, the situation was highly unstable
and the ceasefire finally collapsed in early April.
Before the ceasefire agreement was signed in February,
Saudi Arabia had sent fighter jets to bases in Turkey, where
they, together with Turkey, planned attacks on Russian
planes over Syria. It was thwarted by the ceasefire
agreement. Instead, Saudi Arabia began supplying
ground-to-air rockets to the rebel groups. Until then, the
United States has managed to keep these rockets out of Syria
because they could also be used against superpower aircraft.
But from July and August, Russian fighter jets and
helicopters began to be shot down with US-produced
ground-to-air rockets. At the same time, Russia again
stepped up its bombings and participated in the Syrian
regime's encirclement of Aleppo and bombings against IS
controlled areas in northern and eastern Syria.
In November 2015, Russian authorities estimated that
approx. 2,700 Russians - most from the North Caucasus - had
gone to war under IS's banner. Others set the figure even
During 2015, 130,297 people were granted temporary
refugee status in Russia. 129,506 were from Ukraine, 482
were from Syria. A very large number of refugees traveled
through Russia heading for Western Europe. Many traveled to
Norway, however, which changed its legislation at the end of
2015 so that even convention refugees could be deported back
to Russia without delay.
The West's demonization of Russia continued. In many
countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark and the
Eastern European, the Cold War assumed similar dimensions.
Economic sanctions and low oil prices had a negative impact
on the economy in both blocs and at the same time, Veten was
pushing hard to rebuild Russia, despite the fact that
Russia's military budget was 8% of the US superpower. (The
demonization of Russia risks paving the way for war,
Guardian 4/3 2015).
Western observers estimated that the Russian economy
shrank by 3.7% in 2015. There was a slight decline in 2016.
From 2017, the economy was expected to grow again.
In July 2016, Parliament passed a number of additions to
the "anti-extremism" legislation. The changes were known as
the "Yarovaya package". It banned any missionary activity
outside certain religious institutions, required internet
service providers to store copies of data for 6 months and
metadata for 3 years, doubled the "extremism" penalty frame
from 4 to 8 years in prison, and doubled the penalty frame
for inviting people to participate in «Mass riots» from 5 to
10 years in prison.
In November, the ICC Prosecutor's Office declared that
the situation in Crimea and Sevastopol had to be
characterized as an international armed conflict between
Russia and Ukraine. The prosecution was still assessing
whether the same could be said about the conflict in eastern
Ukraine. Putin responded 2 days later by declaring that
Russia would not ratify the ICC's Rome Statute. Russia
signed in 2000, but had not yet ratified. The country thus
placed itself in the same group of countries as the United
States and Israel, who also did not want to join the United
Nations War Criminal Tribunal.
Russia's air support for the Assad regime in Syria was
crucial to the turn of the civil war. In March 2016, the
Russian bombings supported the regime's recapture of the IS
occupied Palmyra; in September-December, the bombings were
crucial to the recapture of Aleppo; and in the first half of
2017 they were crucial to the recapture of the IS occupied
Deir ez-Zor. In the fall of 2016, Russian and / or Syrian
aircraft bombed hospitals and living quarters in Aleppo.
Several hundred civilians were killed. The bombing campaign
prompted Western supporters of the jihadists to launch the
"Aleppo Bleeding" campaign in protest of the war crimes. The
same Western groups closed their eyes as ten times as many
civilians were killed during Western bombings by Mosul in
Russia's interference in the Syrian civil war in 2016-17
caused the West to be run out on a siding. Together with
Iran and Turkey, Russia paved the way for so-called
de-coalition zones in Syria, where the fighting subsided.
Just 1˝ years earlier, Russia-Turkey relations were at a
freezing point, but Turkey now backed Russia, partly because
the country was vertical against US support for the Kurds in
northern Syria, and partly because Turkey itself wanted
territorial control in northern Syria, and it was only
possible with Russian support.
Cooperation between Russia and the United States
approached conflict from the summer of 2017 in the fighting
around Deir ez-Zor, as the United States wanted to bring the
oil fields in the area under its control and therefore sent
the Kurdish militia south. It brought the US-backed forces
into direct conflict with the Russian-backed.
Russia-US relations developed turbulently from the 2016
US presidential race. Russia was not particularly interested
in Hillary Clinton becoming president when she faced a tough
sanctioned course on Russia. Her counterpart, Donald Trump,
in turn, had both economic and political contacts. Clinton's
private mail server was hacked and many thousands of mails
published via WikiLeaks. Clinton and later the FBI accused
Russian hackers of being behind, but unable to provide
conclusive evidence. Following his takeover of power in
January 2017, Trump tried on several occasions to stop The
FBI's interest in the relationship between him and Russia.
An interference that simply resulted in Congress setting up
a special unit to investigate the president's relations with
Russia. The interest in "Russia's involvement in the US
election campaign" was turbulent, colorful and completely
devoid of self-examination. The United States had been
actively involved in Russia's elections since the 1990s, for
which the superpower had a tradition. It has traditionally
wanted to control the election results of both friends and
At the end of December 2016, the Obama administration
expelled 35 Russian diplomats as revenge for alleged Russian
interference in the presidential race. Russia failed to
In April 2017, the United States sent 59 tomahawk
missiles into Syria. The attack sparked protests from
Russia. The relationship between the two countries then
quickly cooled, and Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed regret
that the relations between the two countries were
approaching a Cold War level. In July, Russia decided that
the United States should reduce its total embassy and
consulate staff in the country to 455 people, equivalent to
the number of Russian embassy staff in the United States.
This meant that 755 had to leave Russia until 1 September.
In August, the United States Congress passed new sanctions
In 2018, Denmark doubled its military budget. Allegedly
because of the threat from Russia. The reality was that the
larger budget would fund arms purchases in the United