Russia’s 19,913 km (12,373 mi) of land boundaries abut on more countries than those of any other nation. On the north it is bordered by a number of arms of the Arctic Ocean comprising, west to east: the Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi seas. On the east it is bordered by several arms of the Pacific Ocean, comprising, north to south: the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, and the seas of Okhotsk and Japan (East Sea). In the extreme south-east, Russia borders the north-eastern tip of North Korea. On the south it is bordered, east to west, by China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Black Sea. On the south-west it is bordered by Ukraine, and on the west it is bordered, south to north, by Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, the Gulf of Finland, Finland, and Norway. The Kaliningrad oblast (formerly Königsberg in East Prussia) is separated from the rest of Russia by Belarus and Lithuania. It is bordered by the latter on the north and east, by Poland on the south, and the Baltic Sea on the west.
The principal island possessions of Russia lie in Arctic and Pacific waters. Farthest north, in the Arctic Ocean, is the Franz Josef Land archipelago, consisting of about 100 islands. The other main Arctic possessions, from west to east, include the two islands that constitute Novaya Zemlya, Vaygach Island, the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, the New Siberian Islands (Novosibirskiye Ostrova), and Wrangel Island. Between these principal island possessions are numerous smaller islands and island chains. In the Pacific Ocean are the Kuril Islands, which extend in an arc south-west from the southern tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to Japan, and the large island of Sakhalin, which separates the seas of Okhotsk and Japan.
The southernmost islands of the Kuril chain are claimed by Japan. Russia is a member of the UN, having inherited the USSR’s seat, and is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It is also a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the voluntary association of former Soviet republics that was formed on the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991; 12 of the 15 former republics became members. In contrast to most other member states, Russia views the CIS as a vehicle for closer economic, political, and military integration, but its efforts to this end have met with little success. On May 23, 1997, Russia and Belarus signed a charter forming a union involving cooperation in a variety of spheres, including foreign policy, economic reform, energy, and transport. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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