Brief Historical Overview
Russia's sale of Alaska to the U.S. Government in the mid-19th century marked an active period that included commercial joint ventures and Russian support for the United States during the American Civil War. The early 20th century saw sometimes tense relations, but our countries continued to talk and, at times, cooperate. Although the United States did not recognize the Soviet Union until 1933, we provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 1921-1923 famine. Despite our differences, the Soviets and the Americans united against a common enemy during World War II, and the Soviet Union participated in the Lend-Lease program under which the United States provided the Allies with supplies. That period ended with the onset of the Cold War, as our military alliances opposed each other in Europe and across the globe. Nevertheless, cultural, sports, scientific, and educational exchanges, and summits that led to important arms control treaties, kept the lines of communication open. U.S. and Soviet astronauts even ventured into space together in the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.


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