Russia profile - Timeline

  • 30 November 2015
  • From the section Europe

A chronology of key events:

1237-40 - Mongols invade Russia, destroying all of its main cities except Novgorod and Pskov; Tatars establish the empire of the Golden Horde in southern Russia.

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Image caption Moscow has a population of more than 10 million people

1552-56 - Grand Prince Ivan the Terrible of Moscow conquers the Tatar khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan and establishes the Tsardom of Russia.

1581 - Cossacks begin conquering Siberia for Russia.


1613 - National Council elects Michael Romanov as tsar, ending a long period of instability and foreign intervention. Romanov dynasty rules Russia until 1917 revolution.

1689-1725 - Peter the Great introduces far-reaching reforms, including a regular conscript army and navy, subordinating the Orthodox Church to himself and reorganising government structures along European lines. 1721 - Russia acquires territory of modern Estonia and Latvia after decades of war with Sweden, establishing naval presence in Baltic Sea and 'window on Europe'.

1772-1814 - Russia conquers Crimea, Ukraine, Georgia, and what later became Belarus, Moldova, as well as parts of Poland.

1798-1815 - Russia takes part in the European coalitions against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, defeating Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and contributing to his overthrow. Army officers return home bringing liberal ideas from Europe, spurring efforts to rein in Romanov autocracy.

1825 - Abortive attempt by liberal army officers to establish constitutional government crushed in Decembrist Revolt.

1834-59 - Russia faces determined resistance to their bid to annex North Caucasus.

1853-57 - Russia suffers setback in attempt to seize territory from declining Ottoman Empire through its defeat in Crimean War.

1861 - Emancipation Edict ends serfdom but keeps peasants tied to the land through continuing labour obligations; rapid industrialisation leads to growth of a small working class and the spread of revolutionary ideas.

1864-65 - The area of what is now the Central Asian republics annexed.

1877-78 - Russian-Turkish war sees Russia seize land from Turkey in the Caucasus and establish client states in the Balkans.

1897 - Social Democratic Party founded, and in 1903 splits into Menshevik and more radical Bolshevik factions.

1904-05 - Russian expansion in Manchuria leads to war with Japan - and the 1905 revolution, which forced Tsar Nicholas II to grant a constitution and establish a parliament, the Duma.

1906-1911 - Constitutional rule in tempered by authoritarian government of Peter Stolypin, whose attempts to reform land ownership were only partly successful.

1914 - Russian-Austrian rivalry in Balkans contributes to outbreak of World War I, in which Russia fought alongside Britain and France.

Rise of the Soviet Union

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Image caption Lenin, who masterminded the Bolshevik take-over of power in Russia in 1917

1917 March - Poor performance in the war and mismanagement of the economy at home prompt mutinies in the armed forces and street disturbances in major cities.

Liberal leaders force Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate; series of Provisional Governments seek to continue war against Germany despite disintegrating military and unrest at home.

November - Bolsheviks overthrow provisional government, suppress elected Constituent Assembly, establish ruthless 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' under Communist Party rule that crushes religious and political dissent.

1918 - Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ends war with Germany at price of major territorial losses in eastern Europe and Baltic.

1918-22 - Civil war between Red Army and anti-communist White Russians, aided by Britain, France, Japan and the US. Defeat in war with Poland ends Soviet expansion westwards until the Second World War.

Stalin Ascendant

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Image caption End of an era: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia abandoned Communism, symbolised by the hammer and sickle

1922 - Bolsheviks reorganise remnants of Russian Empire as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1920s - Experiments with market mechanisms and private business under New Economic Policy give way to state-run command economy under Joseph Stalin, who becomes virtually unchallenged as dictator in 1929.

Social permissiveness and relatively generous approach to minority nationalities gradually yield to a conservative and Russo-centric policies.

1930s - Stalin carries out a second revolution to consolidate his power, concentrating land ownership in massive state-run holdings, forcing the pace of industrialisation, and killing his enemies - real and imagined - in the Party, economic management, civil service, military and security services.Economic disruption and deliberate policy of repression leads of mass famine in Ukraine and deportation of hundreds of thousands of people to work in huge network of forced labour camps, usually in remote and harsh parts of the country.

1939 - Stalin concludes non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, seizing eastern Poland, parts of Romania and Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States after the start of the Second World War.

1939-40 - Inconclusive Winter War against Finland reveals poor state of Soviet armed forces, prompting Stalin to build up military in expectation of eventual war with Germany.

1941 - Soviet Union left reeling by surprise German attack in July. German advance only halted on outskirts of Moscow in December.Soviet Union forms alliance with Britain and United States, who provide it with military supplies throughout rest of war.

1942 - Soviet military steadily pushes back German forces after Battle of Stalingrad.

1945 - Allied victory over Nazi Germany followed by swift establishment of Soviet hegemony in Central and Eastern Europe, and Balkans.

The annexations of 1939-40 are retained, client governments are formed elsewhere, and parts of Germany and Austria are occupied. Stalin extends policy of heavy industrialisation into these areas.

Cold War

1947 - 'Cold War' with the West begins in earnest as Soviet Union consolidates power in Eastern Europe and promotes pro-Soviet revolution in China, the Middle and Near East, and Asia.

1949 - Soviets explode their first nuclear bomb; Cold War rivals begin nuclear arms race.

1950s - Soviet competition for power with West extends into Latin America and former European colonies in Africa, making Cold War global.

1953 - Death of Stalin ushers in less repressive rule at home, although Communist Party political dominance is firmly upheld.

1957 - Soviet artificial satellite Sputnik becomes first to orbit Earth, spurring the Cold War beyond the atmosphere in a Space Race.

1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes first person to orbit Earth in Vostok spacecraft.

1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis brings world to brink of nuclear war; perceived defeat for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev hastened his ouster two years later by more conservative faction, eventually led by Leonid Brezhnev.


1965-1970 - Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin tries to introduce profit and bonus elements and some decentralisation of planning in order to boost flagging economic output and competitiveness, but is thwarted by disappointing results and opposition by Party conservatives.

1970s - Consolidation of Leonid Brezhnev's rule sees economic stagnation and widespread corruption, undermining public faith in any superiority of the Soviet model.

Efforts to rein in Cold War tensions through policy of US-Soviet detente collapse in aftermath of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.

1985-91 - Rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev heralds serious efforts to reform moribund economy (perestroika), free up political debate (glasnost), and end crippling cost of continuing Cold War.

Gorbachev gradually loses control of reform processes at home and abroad, leading to the collapse of Communist rule in Eastern Europe and the eventual implosion of the Soviet Union itself.

Yeltsin era

1991 - Russia becomes independent as the Soviet Union collapses and, together with Ukraine and Belarus, forms the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is eventually joined by all former Soviet republics except the Baltic states.

Chechnya declares unilateral independence, beginning a decade of conflict with Moscow.

1992 - Russia takes up the seat of the former Soviet Union on the United Nations Security Council, and retains control of its nuclear arsenal.

Acting Prime Yegor Gaidar launches controversial programme of lifting central controls on economy, seen by some as essential to prevent total collapse.

Others complain it is poorly managed and directly responsible for hyper-inflation and the rise of the 'oligarchs' - businessmen who benefit from crash privatisation of massive state enterprises.

1993 September-October - President Boris Yeltsin sends in troops to seize parliament from opponents of his rule.

1993 December - Referendum approves new constitution giving president sweeping powers.

Communist and nationalist opposition makes large gains in elections to new Duma parliament.

1994 - Russia joins Nato's Partnership for Peace programme.

Russian troops launch two-year to recapture the breakaway republic of Chechnya, which ends with compromise agreement on substantial Chechen autonomy.

1995 - Communist Party emerges as largest party in parliamentary elections, with more than a third of seats.

1996 - Yeltsin re-elected despite concerns about his health.

Russia admitted to the G-7 group of industrialised countries.

Yeltsin's twilight years

1998 September - New Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov stabilises collapsing rouble, ends danger of debt default, and carries out major taxation reform.

He also opposes Nato campaign against Yugoslavia, marking start of Russia's distancing itself from US foreign policy. He eventually falls out with President Yeltsin, who dismisses him in May 1999.

1999 August - Armed men from Chechnya invade the neighbouring Russian territory of Dagestan; President Yeltsin appoints ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin with brief to bring Chechnya back under central government control.

1999 December - Yeltsin resigns in favour of Vladimir Putin, who takes over buoyed by popularity over major military campaign against Chechen rebels.

Putin asserts control

2000 March - President Putin wins election.

2000 August - Putin faces criticism over sinking of Kursk nuclear submarine, given his slow response and official obfustication.

2000 December - Putin begins steady process of rehabilitating Stalin era by re-instating 1944-1991 anthem with new words.

2002 May - Russia and the USA announce a new agreement on strategic nuclear weapons reduction.

Russian and Nato foreign ministers set up Nato-Russia Council with equal role in decision-making on terrorism and other security threats.

2002 October - Chechen rebels seize a Moscow theatre and hold about 800 people hostage. Most of the rebels and around 120 hostages are killed when Russian forces storm the building.

2003 June - Government axes last remaining nationwide independent TV channel, TVS, citing financial reasons.

2003 September - Kyrgyzstan grants Russia first military base abroad in 13 years to counter Islamist terrorism.

2003 October - Yukos oil boss and prominent liberal Mikhail Khodorkovsky arrested on charges of tax evasion and fraud, an early casualty of President Putin's campaign to drive Yeltsin-era 'oligarchs' out of politics. In 2005 he is sentenced to nine years imprisonment, and is pardoned and goes into exile in 2013.

2003 December - President Putin's United Russia wins landslide Duma election victory, buoyed by economic recovery.

Squeeze on oligarchs

2004 March - Mr Putin wins second presidential term by landslide, consolidating his power.

2004 August - Authorities seize Yuganskneftegaz, Yukos's key production unit, over alleged tax debts, in move widely seen as punishment for Yukos boss Khodorkovsky's opposition to Putin. State formally purchases Yuganskneftegaz in December.

2004 September - More than 380 people, many of them children, killed when mainly Chechen and Ingush Islamists besiege school in North Ossetia's Beslan. Prompts boost in state security powers, despite widespread public criticism of handling of siege.

Putin scraps direct election of regional governors, who will henceforth be government appointees.

2005 February - Moscow and Tehran sign agreement by which Russia will supply fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor and Iran will send spent fuel rods back to Russia.

2005 March - Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov killed by Russian forces.

2005 June - State gains control of Gazprom gas giant by increasing its stake in the company to over 50%.

2005 September - Russia and Germany sign major deal to build gas pipeline under Baltic Sea between the two countries.

Gazprom gains overwhelming control of Sibneft oil company by buying out businessman Roman Abramovich for 13bn dollars.

2006 January - Putin signs law giving authorities extensive new powers to monitor the activities of non-governmental organisations and suspend them if they are found to pose an alleged threat to national security.

2006 March - President Putin visits Beijing and signs range of economic agreements, including deal on future supply of Russian gas to China.

2006 July - Rouble becomes convertible currency.

Russia's most-wanted man, Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, killed by security forces.

Georgia tensions

2006 September-October - Amid tension over Georgia's breakaway regions and its ties with Nato, Moscow's relations deteriorate sharply when Georgia briefly detains four Russian army officers on suspicion of spying.

Russia imposes sanctions and expels hundreds of Georgians whom it accuses of being illegal immigrants.

2006 November - Former Russian security service officer Alexander Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin living in exile in London, dies of polonium poisoning.

2007 March - Dozens detained as riot police break up St Petersburg protest by demonstrators accusing President Putin of stifling democracy.

Row with Britain

2007 July - Diplomatic row between London and Moscow over Britain's bid for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi, an ex-KGB agent accused of Mr Litvinenko's murder.

2007 August - Russia mounts an Arctic expedition apparently aimed at expanding its territorial claims and plants a flag on the seabed at the North Pole.

2007 November - President Putin signs law suspending Russia's participation in the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty that limits the deployment of heavy military equipment across Europe.

2007 December - President Putin's United Russia party wins landslide in parliamentary elections, which critics describe as neither free nor democratic.

2008 January - Russia revives Soviet-era Atlantic navy exercises in neutral waters in the Bay of Biscay off France, in what is seen as a demonstration of resurgent military muscle.

2008 March - Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev wins presidential elections as Mr Putin cannot serve a third consecutive term.

War with Georgia

2008 May - President Medvedev appoints Vladimir Putin prime minister.

2008 August - Tensions with Georgia escalate into war after Georgian troops attack separatist forces in South Ossetia. Russia drives Georgian forces from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, then recognizes both as independent states.

2008 October - The Russian parliament approves a $68bn package of measures to help banks hit by the global credit crunch.

2008 November - Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that would extend the next president's term of office from four to six years.

2009 January - Russia stops gas supplies to Ukraine after the collapse of talks to resolve a row over unpaid bills. Supplies to southeastern Europe are disrupted for several weeks as a result of the dispute.

2009 April - Russia formally ends operations against rebels in Chechnya, although sporadic violence continues.

Thaw with US

2009 July - President Medvedev and Barack Obama, on his first official visit to Moscow, reach an outline agreement to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles in move aimed at replacing 1991 Start 1 treaty.

2009 September - Russia welcomes the US decision to shelve missile defence bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

2009 October - Opposition parties accuse the authorities of rigging local elections, as the governing United Russia party wins every poll by a wide margin.

2010 April - President Medvedev signs a new strategic arms agreement with US committing both sides to cut arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads by about 30 percent.

2010 June - Presidents Medvedev and Obama mark warming in ties on the Russian leader's first visit to the White House. Obama says the US will back Russia's World Trade Organisation accession, and Russia will allow the US to resume poultry exports.

2010 July - A customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan comes into force despite Belarusian complaints about Russia retaining duties on oil and gas exports to its neighbours.

2010 October - President Medvedev sacks the powerful mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, after weeks of criticism from the Kremlin. Mr Luzhkov had been in office since 1992.

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Image caption Vladimir Putin has faced some vocal opposition

2011 November - Georgia and Russia sign a Swiss-brokered trade deal which allows Russia to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), ending Georgia's blockade of Russian membership since the 2008 war.

2011 December - United Russia suffers drop in share of the vote at parliamentary elections, but keeps a simple majority in the State Duma. Tens of thousands turn out in opposition protests alleging fraud, in first major anti-government protests since the early 1990s.

Putin's second presidency

2012 March - Vladimir Putin wins presidential elections. Opponents take to the streets of several major cities to protest at the conduct of the election, and the police arrest hundreds.

2012 July - Law goes into force requiring non-governmental organisations receiving funds from abroad to be classed as "foreign agents", in what critics say is part of a wider crackdown on dissent.

2012 August - US, EU and human rights groups condemn jail sentences imposed on three members of punk band Pussy Riot over an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral. The women were sentenced to two years for hooliganism.

Russia formally joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) after 18 years of negotiations.

2012 December - Angered by a US bill blacklisting Russian officials in connection with the death in custody of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, Moscow bans Americans from adopting Russian children and stops US-funded non-governmental organisations from working in Russia.

Crackdown continues

2013 July - Anti-corruption blogger and leading opposition activist Alexei Navalny is sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of embezzlement in a trial he rejects as politically motivated.

2013 September - Mr Navalny comes second in the Moscow mayoral election after being released pending appeal, coming close to forcing the Kremlin's candidate into a run-off.

2013 October - Appeals court upholds Alexei Navalny's conviction but suspends his jail sentence, allowing him to go free while barring him from standing for elected office.

2013 December - The Kremlin announces that the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti and the Voice of Russia radio station are to be restructured and placed under the control of a pro-Kremlin figure known for his extreme anti-Western views.

Ukraine crisis

2014 February-May - After flight from Ukraine of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, Russian forces take over Crimea, which then votes to join Russia in a referendum. This sparks biggest East-West showdown since Cold War, with the US and its European allies imposing sanctions and accusing Russia of stoking separatism in eastern Ukraine.

2014 May - Russia's Gazprom sign 30-year deal to supply the China National Petroleum Corp with gas, estimated to be worth over $400bn.

2014 June - US President Barack Obama condemns Russian "aggression" in Ukraine while speaking in Warsaw to mark 25 years since the fall of communism in Poland.

2014 July - Following the downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in a suspected missile strike, Russia comes in for international criticism amid claims - denied by Moscow - that it supplied rebels with heavy weaponry.

The EU and US announce new sanctions against Russia. The IMF says Russian growth is slowing down to zero.

2014 October - Russia agrees to resume gas supplies to Ukraine over the winter in a deal brokered by the EU.

2014 November - Separatists in eastern Ukraine elect new leaders in polls backed by Russia and denounced by Kiev and the West.

Ukraine accuses Russia of sending a big column of tanks, artillery and troops into eastern Ukraine.

2014 December - The Russian rouble begins to drop rapidly against the US dollar, losing about half its value in the next two months.

A Moscow court finds leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny guilty of fraud charges and imposes a suspended prison sentence.

2015 January - A public inquiry opens in Britain into the 2006 murder in London of former Russian intelligence officer and Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko.

2015 February - Opposition activist and former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, a leading figure in the democratic movement since the 1990s, is shot dead in Moscow within sight of the Kremlin.

Police charge two Chechens with murder. They deny the charges, one after alleging he was coerced into confessing. There is widespread domestic and international scepticism about the official account. Syria intervention

2015 September - Russia carries out first air strikes in Syria, saying it targets the Islamic State group. But West and Syrian opposition say it overwhelmingly targets anti-Assad rebels instead.

2015 November - Turkey shoots down Russian warplane on Syria bombing mission. Russia, Turkey's second-largest trading partner, imposes economic sanctions.