Mongolia, Relations with

Mongolia, Relations with
   In the decade after independence from Qing China, Mongolia steadily gravitated into the sphere of influence of Soviet Russia. In 1924, a Mongolian People’s Republic was established under Soviet protection, becoming the first of many Soviet satellites during the Cold War. Mongolian-Soviet relations remained close (including during the Sino-Soviet split) until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
   Under perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev dramatically reduced Soviet subsidies to Ulan Bator and began the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Recognizing the loss of its longtime protector, Mongolia concurrently improved relations with the People’s Republic of China and the United States. Mirroring reforms in the Soviet Union, Mongolia abandoned one-party totalitarianism and began market reforms, maintaining friendly but diminished relations with Russia in the process. The new relationship—built on principles of equality—was solidified with the 1993 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation; however, pernicious disputes over Mongolia’s debt to Russia and the latter’s abolition of visa-free travel for Mongolian citizens weakened the relationship. Recently, Mongolia has again entered into Russia’s geopolitical strategy. Vladimir Putin has sought to leverage Mongolia as an ally in northeast Asia, and made one of his first foreign visits to Ulan Bator, signifying an unwillingness to let China act as the sole great power in the region.
   Mongolia was also positioned as an important player in maintaining stability in Central Asia and given observer status within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Kremlin wrote off nearly all of the impoverished country’s debt and has expanded trade, energy, and cultural linkages in the past decade. With nearly 3,500 kilometers of shared border between the two countries, Russia’s regional governors in the districts of Chita, Buryatiya, Tuva, and the Altay Republic have emerged as important players in bilateral relations, particularly on issues of foreign trade.
   See also Foreign relations.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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