In 1803 the Russian Empire recognized the still-fledgling United States of America, and six years later the two countries exchanged Ministers. The U.S. Legation in St. Petersburg became an embassy in 1898, but after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the United States refused to recognize the new government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was not until 1933, when a new embassy opened in Moscow, that recognition was extened.
Relations between the United States and the USSR remained rocky throughout the Cold War, but diplomatic ties were never severed, even though both countries accused each other of diplomatic espionage. In 1985 the United States halted construction on its new embassy building because of security compromises in the materials being used, only completing construction in 2000 by using an American company and American materials. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the United States recognized the new Russian Federation and began diplomatic relations afresh with the new Russian government.
- Supporting the National Endowment for the Humanities "Landmarks of American History and Culture" workshops for Russian secondary school teachers, journalists, and directors of historical and cultural organizations
- Participating in anti-corruption summits in Moscow
- Hosting jazz and other cultural performances at the Ambassador’s residence, known as “Spaso House,” for Russian officials and citizens
- Sponsoring essay competitions and exchange programs for Russian students with groups like the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute
- Supporting the right of gays, lesbians, and other demonstrators to peacefully protest without fear of detention by the police
This video was produced by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs in December 2011. It features U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
For a transcript please click here.
Related Artifacts from the USDC Collection
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