The Russian Federation appeared on the world map as an independent state at the end of 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Even as it grappled with huge political and economic upheaval, Russia suddenly found itself home to a massive number of “immigrants” from former Soviet states. With little experience managing international migration flows to guide policy in this area initially, Russia has been at the center of transformative shifts in migration, all while its government has worked to solidify a comprehensive migration management system.
The history of international migration in Russia did not begin with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Therefore, analysis of migration patterns in the Russian Federation, as in other former Soviet republics, should begin in earlier times, when they formed a single state. Many sociodemographic issues and ethnopolitical conflicts in former Soviet republics, as well as migration flows between them after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, are to a large extent the result of Soviet-era migration. Today, Russia maintains strong cultural, political, and economic ties with residents of former Soviet states—reflected in ongoing migration patterns—which it works to strengthen with its citizenship policies.