November 5, 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Russian Federation. In the span of a century, the two countries have shared more historical, political and social commonalities than any other partner of Mongolia in the world, due to both geography and politically constructed alliances. through different stages of government. Standing the test of time, the history of Mongolian-Russian relations highlights extraordinary turning points in the history of Northeast Asia.
A century ago, on November 5, 1921, the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) and the USSR signed a friendship treaty establishing diplomatic relations. A year later, in 1922, embassies were opened in Ulaanbaatar and Moscow. Despite this accomplishment of foreign policy, the years 1930-1940 were periods of perfidy when political and religious ideologies collided. Some 30,000 to 40,000 Buddhist monks, intellectuals and nobles were purged in Mongolia, echoing the ongoing Stalinist purges in the Soviet Union. It was not until 50 years later, in 1984 during the Tsedenbal-Batmunkh transition, that the two sides reconciled and ended these historic trials, with the push from the Mongol side.
Even during the difficult times of the 1930s and 1940s, Mongolia and Russia cooperated at a number of landmark historical moments.
One of the best-known examples is the Battle of Khalkhiin Gol, where the armies of the MPR and the USSR fought the Imperial Japanese Army and the Japanese puppet state of Manchoukuo from May to September 1939. This series of battles was a prelude to world war. II, coming just before the invasion of Poland by Germany.
While most of Europe went to war with Nazi Germany, Russia was also drawn to it. Mongolia’s supply of wool, warm clothing, food and horses became a lifeline for Russian soldiers fighting the Germans in the middle of winter. It is said that during Russia’s war against Germany, one in five horses was a Mongolian war horse. In 2015, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, then President of Mongolia, presented the Russian people with a large bronze horse statue, titled “Across the Warring Roads”, a sweet reminder of the friendship between Mongolia and Russia, the joint efforts and a gentle power movement for its strong and continuous bonds.
For 70 years, Mongolia’s domestic and foreign policies were heavily influenced by the Soviet Union, with its economic models inspired by socialism. There is no denying the Russian influence in Mongolia. However, Mongolia’s strong relations with Russia have been a major stepping stone for Mongolia to be recognized by the international community and to acquire a foreign policy and diplomatic strength. At the same time, Russia’s industrial and economic development has been reflected in the development of Mongolia’s main sectors: infrastructure, energy, railways and major mining developments like Erdenet. Even after the fall of the USSR, Mongolia continued to benefit from Russian investments. According to the Mongolian Foreign Ministry, “from 1990 to 2014, the volume of Russian investment in Mongolia reached 297 million USD, which represents 2.1% of total foreign direct investment in Mongolia.”
Over the past five years, Mongolia has stepped up its foreign policy activities with its neighbors, including Russia, to embark on new opportunities that could diversify its mining-dependent economy. In 2019, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Mongolia, the two countries signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, bringing Moscow and Ulaanbaatar even closer. The two countries are expanding their cooperation in areas such as economy, energy and climate change issues.
In 2020, Russia ratified the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Russia and Mongolia. On November 25 of this year, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov presented the Order of Friendship award to Mongolian Ambassador to Russia Davaa Dulamsuren, recognizing his contribution and dedication to the development of comprehensive strategic partnership between Mongolia and Russia. .
Relations between Mongolia and Russia have also developed in the energy sector. As Russia supplies 92% of Mongolia’s energy demand, especially fuel, this is a key sector for both countries. Beyond bilateral cooperation, however, the Power of Siberia 2 mega-project, which involves Russia, Mongolia and China, could be a game-changer for Northeast Asia’s gas supply. The project, with the construction of “1942 kilometers of main gas pipelines with 114 wells”, would see Russian gas transit through Mongolia en route to China. Via the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, the energy hub from Russia to Asia includes Mongolia. Mongolia’s government has also been proactive in continuing the pipeline, sealing a memorandum of understanding with Russia in 2019.
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the relations between Mongolia and Russia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia organized an academic conference on “Relations between Mongolia and Russia: past, present and future”. Deputy Foreign Minister B. Munkhjin, Deputy S. Odontuya and SA Kramintsyev, Counselor of the Russian Embassy in Mongolia, opened the conference. At the conference, historians and academics highlighted that Mongolia and Russia and their peoples have worked together to overcome political challenges and transformations.
In addition, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Mongolia and the Embassy of Mongolia in the Russian Federation organized 92 activities during a month-long celebration of the two countries’ centuries-old ties.
In addition, the president’s office, the parliamentary group on Mongolian-Russian relations and the Mongolian foreign ministry organized a historical photo gallery, “One hundred events of a century” which featured rare images. in black and white of the People’s Revolution of 1921, the Battle of Khalkhiin Gol of 1939 and Russia’s involvement in World War II. These images captured many important events that shaped the relations between Mongolia and Russia.
In his opening remarks, Russian Ambassador to Mongolia IK Azizov said: “We hope that the photographs presented in this exhibition will give a clear idea of the century-old history of Mongolian-Russian relations and other events, and this will allow us to see these events in the big picture.