The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. The medieval state of Rus' arose in the 9th century. In 988, it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated until it was finally reunified by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the 15th century. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third-largest empire in history. Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian SFSR became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state, which was a one-party state throughout most of its existence. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II, and emerged as a superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first human in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation. In the aftermath of the constitutional crisis of 1993, a new constitution was adopted, and Russia has since been governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Vladimir Putin has dominated Russia's political system since 2000, and his government has been accused of authoritarianism, numerous human rights abuses, and corruption.
Russia is a great power, and is considered a potential superpower. It is ranked very high in the Human Development Index, with a universal healthcare system, and a free university education. Russia's economy is the world's eleventh-largest by nominal GDP and the sixth-largest by PPP. It is a recognised nuclear-weapons state, possessing the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, with the world's second-most powerful military, and the fourth-highest military expenditure. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the world's largest, and it is one of the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G20, the SCO, the Council of Europe, the APEC, the OSCE, the IIB and the WTO, as well as the leading member of the CIS, the CSTO, and the EAEU. Russia is also home to the ninth-greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.