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Over the past several years Russia has increased its international profile, played an increasing role in regional issues, and been more assertive in dealing with its neighbors. In recent years, Russia has not shied from using its significant oil and gas exports as sources of political and economic influence.

The New START Treaty between Russia and the U.S. entered into force in February 2011 and the two work closely on other initiatives to address the threat of nuclear terrorism and keep terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials. The Bilateral Presidential Commission is dedicated to identifying areas of cooperation and pursuing joint projects and actions that strengthen strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and the development of ties between the Russian and American people. It is intended to serve as a regular and structured mechanism to advance the highest-priority bilateral objectives through 18 working groups on topics including policy steering; arms contro and international securityl; counterterrorism; counter-narcotics; energy; environment; emergency situations; health; space cooperation; military cooperation; nuclear energy and nuclear security; intelligence sharing; and defense relations.

Russia's efforts to transform its Soviet-legacy military into a smaller, lighter, and more mobile force continue to be hampered by an ossified military leadership, discipline problems, limited funding, and demographics. Conscription remains the main source of manning, although there are initiatives to increase the level of professionalization in Russian forces. There has been an increased emphasis on practical training, and the government is introducing bills to improve the organization of the military. Despite recent increases in the budget, however, defense spending is still unable to sustain Russia's oversized military. Military spending continues to grow (the government announced in February 2011 that it would spend more than $650 billion upgrading hardware), but deep structural problems remain.

For further information please go to the US Embassy Russia site.

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