Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Mongolia's trade with Russia declined by 80% and China's relations and influence over Mongolia increased.[7] However, Russia has sought to rebuild strong relations with Mongolia in recent years to enhance its standing as a regional power.[7] In 2000, then Russian President Vladimir Putin made a landmark visit to Mongolia —the first by a Russian head of state since Leonid Brezhnev in 1974[8] and one of the first of Putin's presidency— and renewed a major bilateral treaty.[2][7] The visit and improvement in bilateral relations was popularly welcomed in Mongolia as countering China's influence.[7] Russia lowered the prices of oil and energy exports to Mongolia and enhanced cross-border trade.[7] The Russian government wrote off 98% of Mongolia's state debt and an agreement was signed to build an oil pipeline from Russia to China through Mongolia.[2]


How does Russia benefit from a strong relationship with Mongolia? The article seems to claim that it wants to enhance its standing as a regional power, but surely there are other factors that are at play here? From the looks of it, Russia doesn't have much to gain economically, and there seems to be some geopolitical reasons why Russia would want a strong relationship with Mongolia. What are the benefits Russia may gain from a strong relationship with Mongolia?

  • 6
    you mean good reason except having a good relation with a neighbourg ? Feb 12 at 13:06
  • I don't understand the question. It should be always better to have a friend than an enemy, shouldn't it?
    – Allure
    Feb 13 at 3:23
  • @Bougainville To be fair, having good relations with its neighbors is not something Putin's Russia is known to prioritize all that much. Feb 17 at 20:40

2 Answers 2


Russia has 2900 km of shared land border with Mongolia. Russia also has Republic of Tyva whose population is closely related with that of Mongola culturally and perhaps economically.

Mongolia's trans-mongolian railroad points straight to Beijing and remains an important transport corridor connecting Russia with China. Unfortunately, China is closed for inbound overland railway passenger traffic at the moment, due to COVID.


Russia and Mongolia share a 3500 kilometer border (by comparison, the longest border in the world is the US-Canadian border of 8891 km.) It just makes good sense to have friendly relationships along such a distance. This is further amplified by the fact that Mongolia is a landlocked country, bordering only Russia and China, so having good relationships with Mongolia might somewhat diminish China influence over Russia. This Chinese influence is further exacerbated by the fact that nearly third of the world ethnic Mongols live in China, while Russia is home to about half a million of them (5%).

Russia and Mongolia have long-lasting historical and cultural ties, as Mongolia was under Russian domination during the communist period, itself being Communist and even adopting Russian script as the official writing system (but reverting partially to the traditional Mongolic writing after the collapse of the USSR.)

Economic ties
The collapse of the USSR also found Mongolia with significant foreign debt towards Russia:

The debt forgiveness has been a long time coming and has roots in the bilateral relationship between the two neighbors dating back to the early 1990s. Mongolia had borrowed heavily from the Soviet Union. In the early 2000s, its debt burden stood at around $10 billion, as estimated by Standard and Poor’s. In 2004, Russia and Mongolia had worked out a deal that would allow Ulanbataar to pay off 11.4 billion in convertible rubles of debt from the Soviet era for a payment of “less than $300 million.”

A bilateral agreement in July 2010 offered a simple tit-for-tat where a one-time payment for $3.8 million from Mongolia to Russia would resolve all outstanding debt issues and lead to Russian investment inflows. “As a result of bilateral negotiations held in July 2010, the sides managed to reach an agreement, under which Mongolia undertook to repay financial obligations worth 163.7 million convertible rubles and 10.5 million clearing US dollars with a lump sum payment of $3.8 million,” an explanatory note, cited by Tass, explains.

The trade between Russian and Mongolia dropped nearly 80% after the collapse of the USSR, but has grown in recent times:

Over the past 25 years, Russian exports to Mongolia have steadily expanded at an annualised rate of 8.8%, from $218mn in 1996 to $1.81bn in 2021. In 2022, Russian-Mongolian trade surged by nearly 50% compared to 2021, reaching a historical high of $2.7bn, with expectations of surpassing $3bn by year-end. Russian exports make up nearly 95% of this trade turnover.

In other words, Mongolia might be not the biggest trade and strategical partner for Russian, but neither is it negligible.

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