History of Russia Timeline
Timeline Description: Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of surface area, spanning nine time zones and covering more than 17 million square kilometers across Northern Eurasia. Russia has experienced periods of boom and bust, but has re-emerged as a political and economic world superpower.

Date Event
880 The state of Rus' is formed.

East Slav warriors and Varangian traders from the Baltic Sea region establish a state of Rus' during the 9th century. In 988 Rus' adopts Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire and creates a written legal code.
1240 Rus' breaks up under Mongol invasion.

After a Golden Age under the reign of Vladimir the Great (980 = 1015) and his son Yaroslav the Wise (1019 = 1054), Rus' breaks up following a Mongol invasion. Most of the smaller states become tributaries of the Mongol Golden Horde.
1485 Ivan III "Ivan the Great" reunites Russia.

Ivan the Great ends the dominance of the Golden Horde and consolidates many original states with new territories. Collectively called Russia, the country is controlled from Moscow.
1472 Ivan the Great adopts the Byzantine Coat of Arms.

Ivan the Great marries Sophia Palaiologina, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, and adopts the double-headed eagle as his own coat-of-arms, which is still used in modern Russia.
1547 Ivan IV "Ivan the Terrible", Tsar of Russia.

Ivan the Terrible becomes the first Tsar of Russia in 1547. He introduces a new code of laws, a feudal representative body (Zemsky Sobor) and self-management in rural areas. Ivan expands his already vast territory through conquest, annexation and exploration.
1613 The Romanov Dynasty begins.

Following the death of Ivan's sons, a two-year famine, civil war and foreign invasion, the Zemsky Sobor offers Mikhail Romanov the Russian crown in 1613. The Romanov Dynasty remains in power for three centuries.
1648 Territorial growth leads east to America.

Russia rapidly expands to the East as the Cossacks search for valuable furs and ivory. In 1648, the Bering Strait between Asia and North America is crossed by Russian explorers Fedot Alekseyevich and Semyon Dezhnyov.
1721 The Russian Empire as a world power.

Peter the Great is known as a "reforming tsar" and establishes a new capital in Saint Petersburg. He introduces Western European cultural influences and creates a Russian Empire which is recognized as a world power.
1796 Catherine II "Catherine the Great" and Russian Enlightenment.

Catherine the Great expands the Russian frontier west into Central Europe and south down to the Black Sea. Her greatest contribution is to enlighten and modernize the Russian gentry.
1812 Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

Napoleon invades Russia at the height of his power in 1812, but is heavily defeated by the native army's determination and the bitterly cold winter.
1853 Crimean war.

Nicolas I is a reactionary ruler who leads the Russian army into the Crimean war, an unsuccessful attack against the French, British and Ottoman alliance for Ottoman territories.
1861 Alexander II's Emancipation Reform.

Alexander II brings radical changes to Russia, including the Emancipation Reform of 1861 which abolishes serfdom. These reforms spark industrialization and modernization of the army, but Alexander II is killed by revolutionaries in 1881.
1905 Russian Revolution.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 is triggered by defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. A number of resulting reforms give freedom of speech, legalize political parties, and create an elected legislative body (the State Duma).
1914 Russia enters World War I.

Russia defends its ally, Serbia, and enters World War I against Austria-Hungary, fighting on multiple fronts. Although the Russian army almost destroys the opposition in 1916, growing national unrest and the rising cost of the war culminate in a second revolution.
1917 October Revolution and the Socialist State.

Nicholas II abdicates during the February revolution and the monarchy is replaced with a political coalition. The Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, overthrows the Provisional Government in the October Revolution and leads the first socialist state.
1917 Russian civil war.

A civil war erupts between the self-appointed Soviet regime and the anti-communist movement who are backed by the Allied powers. Purges and executions are carried out on both sides, known respectively as the Red Terror and White Terror.
December 30, 1922 The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is formed.

Russia and fourteen neighboring republics form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) on December 30, 1922. After Lenin's death two years later, Joseph Stalin assumes power, suppresses opposition and forces his idea of "Socialism in One Country".
1924 Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union.

Stalin rapid transformation of the Soviet Union comes at a huge price; the famine of 1932 = 33), the deportation of millions of people to labor camps and the Great Purge within the Bolshevik Party (1936 = 39) collectively undermines industrialization.
1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Stalin tries and fails to establish an anti-Nazi alliance with Britain and France, so instead improves relations with Germany with a non-aggression pact in 1939. While Hitler invades Western Europe, the Soviet Union rebuilds its military and takes some Baltic territories.
June 22, 1941 Germany invades the Soviet Union.

Violating the non-aggression pact, Germany invades the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. After early successes their advances are halted at Moscow. The Germany army is defeated by a combination of the Soviet determination and bitterly cold winters.
1945 Allied victory.

The Soviets help the Allies win, both in Europe and against Japan, but suffer some 26 million casualties and infrastructure devastation. Stalin extends his socialist reach supporting socialist governments in Eastern Bloc satellite states and communist movements worldwide, including China, Korea and Cuba.
1947 Cold War.

As the Soviet Union establishes itself as a world superpower with the second largest nuclear weaponry, America responds to the threat of spreading communism with increased political tensions. The political struggle for global dominance is known as the Cold War.
1955 De-Stalinization.

Two years after Stalin's death in 1953 Nikita Khrushchev assumes power. He launches a period of de-Stalinization and reforms known as the Khrushchev Thaw.
1957 Space Exploration.

The Soviet Union launches the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957 and puts the first man in space with Yuri Gagarin onboard Vostok 1 in April 1961.
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev's liberal reforms.

As General Secretary, in February 1986 Mikhail Gorbachev introduces policies of glasnost (openness), perestroika (restructuring), demokratizatsiya ("democratization"), and uskoreniye ("acceleration" of economic development) to modernize the Soviet Union.
1991 Collapse of the Soviet Union.

Economic and political unrest rises in the Soviet states. A coup aimed at deposing Gorbachev, while retaining the Soviet Union, in fact leads to the end of the communist party and the collapse of the Soviet Union, despite the will of the majority.
June 1991 Russian Federation.

Boris Yeltsin is elected as the first President of the new Russian Federation in June 1991. Radical reforms, such as privatization and market and trade liberalization, leave Russia in a major economic crisis. Russia in the 1990s is dominated by poverty, corruption and violence.
2000 Putin rescues Russia.

Vladimir Putin wins the 2000 presidential election. He suppresses insurgency, manages an economic recovery, largely through extensive mineral and energy resources, improves the standard of living and raises Russia's profile in the West.