Timeline of US-Russia Relations (1983-Present)

Below is an evolving timeline of key events shaping the U.S.-Russia relationship. Compiled by Mari Dugas, with contributions by RM staff.

March 1983

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

September 1983

Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007.

November 1983

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

March 1985

Soviet Politburo elects Mikhail Gorbachev as Communist Party General Secretary.

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

November 1985

1st Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Geneva.

  • SDI is discussed, but no agreement is reached.

April 1986

Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurs in Ukrainian SSR.

October 1986

2nd Reagan-Gorbachev summit, in Reykjavík.

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

June 1987

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

December 1987

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

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


Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

May 1988

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

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

May 1988- February 1989

Soviet combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

November 1988

Estonia becomes first Soviet republic to declare sovereignty.

December 1988

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

April 1989

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

May-November 1989

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe:

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

December 1989

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

February 1990

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

March 1990

Gorbachev elected president of the USSR.

June 1990

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

July 1990

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

September-October 1990

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

December 1990

Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

January 1991

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

February 1991

Warsaw Pact is disbanded.

August 1991

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

September 1991

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

October 1991

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

December 1991

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

December 1991

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

January-February 1992

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

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

February-March 1992

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

April 1992

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

May 1992

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

May 1992

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

June 1992

Bush-Yeltsin summit in Washington:

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

June 1992

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

July 1992

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

October 1992

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

January 1993

Bush-Yeltsin summit in Moscow:

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

April 1993

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Vancouver:

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

January 1994

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

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

February 1994

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

March 1994

Russian troops leave Germany.

May 1994

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

September 1994

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Washington:

  • The Partnership for Economic Progress is created, opening new paths for bilateral trade and economic development.
  • No resolution is reached on Bosnian conflict or Iranian cooperation; Moscow states it will keep its existing contracts with Iran.

December 1994

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

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

April 1995

Kazakhstan returns all nuclear warheads to Russia.

May 1995

Clinton visits Russia for WWII Victory Day:

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

January 1996

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

April 1996

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

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

June 1996

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

May 1997

NATO-Russia Founding Act:

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

March 1997

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Helsinki:

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

June 1997

Russia admitted to G8.

September 1998

Yeltsin-Clinton summit in Moscow:

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

November 1998

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

March-June 1999


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

 March 1999

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

August 1999

Vladimir Putin is appointed prime minister of Russia.

December 1999

Yeltsin resigns; Putin becomes acting president.

March 2000

Putin is elected president of Russia.

June 2000

Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow:

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

July 2000

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

November 2000

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

July 2001

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

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

September 2001

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

January 2002

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

January 2002

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

May 2002

Treaty of Moscow signed on strategic offensive reductions:

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

May 2002

NATO-Russia Council summit:

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

June 2002

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

July 2002

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

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

Nov 2002

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

March 2003

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

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

April 2003

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

March 2004

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

March 2004

Putin elected president for a second term.

February 2005

Bush-Putin summit in Bratislava:

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

July 2006

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

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

March 2007

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

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

July 2007

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

April 2008

NATO summit in Bucharest:

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

March 2008

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

May 2008

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

August 2008

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

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

August 2008




Russo-Georgian war:

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

April 2009

 Sixth wave of NATO expansion: Albania and Croatia admitted.

July 2009

Reset” in relations:

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

September 2009

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

April 2010

Putin-Obama Prague summit:

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

June 2010

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

June 2010

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

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

January 2011

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

October 2011

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

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

Fall 2011

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

March 2012

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

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

August 2012

Russia joins the WTO.

September 2012

USAID is expelled from Russia.

December 2012

Congress passes the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on a group of Russian officials. 

June 2013

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

July 2013

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

September 2013

 G20 summit in St. Petersburg:

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

February 2014

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

March 2014

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

April 2014

Fighting begins in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

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

July 2014

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

August 2014

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

February 2015

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

March 2015

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

September 2015

Russia begins its air campaign in Syria.

November 2015

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

March 2016

Russia refuses to attend the final Nuclear Security Summit.

September 2016

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

September-October 2016

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

November 2016

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

December 2016

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

January 2017

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

March-May 2017


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

July 2017

G20 summit in Hamburg:

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

August 2017


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

November 2017

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

 December 2017


  • Trump presents his National Security Strategy, which warns that China and Russia “challenge American power, influence and interests” and “are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” In a speech announcing the strategy, Trump refrains from directly criticizing Russia and instead speaks positively of a phone call from Putin a few days earlier in which the Russian president credited the CIA with helping to avert a terror attack in St. Petersburg.
  • Separately, the Trump administration approves the limited sale of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, a move reportedly backed by the secretaries of defense and state, but not welcomed by Moscow. 

February 2018


  • The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review states that the world has seen “the return of Great Power competition” and puts Russia at the core of U.S. nuclear strategy. The new document gives short shrift to arms control and diplomacy, but calls for two new systems—lower-yield nuclear weapons deployed on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles—to create “credible deterrence against regional aggression.” As part of its rationale the document cites Russia’s recent statements on its nuclear posture and the Kremlin’s reported belief that “limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons,” would give Russia a strategic advantage.
  • The U.S. and Russia both declare that they have met the Feb. 5 deadline for compliance with the New START treaty, with Moscow and Washington posting their respective numbers of warheads and delivery systems.
  • Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by creating fake online personas to help Trump’s presidential campaign and hurt Clinton’s.

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