A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Russia


Francis Dana, a prominent member of the Continental Congress and secretary to the American legation at Paris, was appointed Minister to Russia in 1780; however, the Russian Government refused to accept his credentials when he arrived in St. Petersburg in August 1781. Dana nevertheless remained in Russia as a private citizen for two years to promote the American revolutionary cause. In 1795, the Russian Government again declined to receive officially an appointed representative of the United States, when it refused to accept the credentials of John Miller Russell as American Consul at St. Petersburg.

Modern Flag of Russia


Russian Recognition of the United States, 1803.

Russia recognized the United States on October 28, 1803, when Czar Alexander I issued a ukase declaring his decision to recognize Levett Harris as American Consul at St. Petersburg.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1809.

Diplomatic relations were established formally on July 14, 1809, when Andrei Dashkov presented his credentials as Russian Chargé d’Affaires to President James Madison.

The process of establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia began in August 1807, when the American Minister at London, James Monroe, discussed with the Russian Special Envoy at London, Maksim Alopeus, the possibility of establishing diplomatic ties between the two states. In December 1807, Alopeus informed the new American Minister-Designate at London, William Pinkney, that Emperor Alexander I was prepared to send a Minister to the United States as soon as the American government determined the rank of Minister it would in turn send to Russia. On August 30, 1808, Emperor Alexander issued credentials for Andrei Dashkov as Chargé d’Affaires and Consul General at Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate rejected President Thomas Jefferson’s nominee as U.S. Minister to Russia, and also rebuffed newly inaugurated President James Madison, when he nominated John Quincy Adams as Minister to Russia in March 1809. Madison later resubmitted Adams’ nomination and it won Senate confirmation on June 27, 1809. Soon after, the first accredited diplomatic representative between the United States and Russia took up his post when Chargé Dashkov presented his credentials to President Madison on July 14, 1809.

Establishment of the American Legation in Russia, 1809.

The American Legation in St. Petersburg was established on November 5, 1809, when U.S. Minister to Russia John Quincy Adams presented his credentials to Emperor Alexander I.

American Legation Raised to Embassy, 1898.

The American Legation in St. Petersburg was raised to an Embassy on February 11, 1898, when Ethan A. Hitchcock was appointed Ambassador to Russia.

Normal Diplomatic Relations Interrupted, 1917.

Normal diplomatic relations were interrupted following the November 7, 1917, Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. After the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II during the February Revolution earlier that year, Ambassador to Russia, David R. Francis, had informed the new Provisional Government that the United States recognized the new government and would maintain diplomatic relations with Russia. On December 6, 1917, following the Bolshevik October Revolution that overthrew the Provisional Government, President Woodrow Wilson instructed all American diplomatic representatives in Russia to refrain from any direct communication with representatives of the Bolshevik Government. Although diplomatic relations with Russia never were formally severed, the United States refused to recognize or have any formal relations with the Bolshevik/Soviet governments until 1933. (The Russian Ambassador accredited to the United States by the defunct Provisional Government, Boris A. Bakhmeteff, remained in the United States until June 30, 1922, at which time he resigned his position on the rationale that the government that had accredited him no longer existed and he had, to the extent possible, liquidated pre-Bolshevik Russian government debts.)

American Embassy Moved Twice, 1918.

On February 27, 1918, the American Embassy and the missions of several other states moved from St. Petersburg to Vologda, due to the close proximity of German troops to St. Petersburg. On August 9, 1918, the American Embassy moved to Archangel, after several embassies in Vologda were harassed by Bolshevik authorities pressuring them to move to Moscow.

American Embassy Closed, 1919.

The American Embassy at Archangel was closed on September 14, 1919.

Normal Diplomatic Relations Resumed, 1933.

Normal diplomatic relations were resumed on November 16, 1933, when President Franklin Roosevelt informed Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov that the United States recognized the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and wished to establish normal diplomatic relations. Litvinov on the same day replied that his government was glad to establish normal diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors.

American Embassy Established in Moscow, 1933.

On December 13, 1933, William Bullitt presented his credentials to President Kalinin in Moscow as the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Recognition of the Russian Federation, 1991.

The United States recognized the Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation. Bush also stated that the Embassy in Moscow would remain in place as the American Embassy to Russia. On December 8, 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine had declared that the Soviet Union ceased to exist and proclaimed a “Commonwealth of Independent States” (CIS) that eleven former Soviet Republics joined on December 21. The formal dissolution of the Soviet Union was completed when Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President on December 25, 1991.

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Russia, 1991.

The United States and the Russian Federation established diplomatic relations on December 31, 1991, when Russian President Boris Yeltsin responded positively to President Bush’s proposal to do so.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Russia
  • Department of State Country Information: Russia
  • Kennedy, Charles Stuart. The American Consul: A History of the United States Consular Service, 1776-1914. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
  • Langer, William L. An Encyclopedia of World History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1968.