In the New World (Americas), the Russians took little land, but did occupy Alaska. They placed trading posts in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and as far south as Fort Ross in northern California, some 50 miles north of San Francisco.
The Russians start each game with 500 food, 100 wood, and only five Settlers. Russian Settlers cost 90 food, 10% less than normal Settlers, but have to be trained in groups of three. The Russian Halberdiers and Musketeers cost 25% less than other civilizations but have 20% less hit points and attack. The Russians also have the Strelet, the cheapest and weakest unit in the game.
With the "National Redoubt" Home City Card, the Russians can build Forts with their Musketeers (though there's still a build limit of three), which comes in handy when choosing to revolt instead of advancing into the Imperial Age and then spamming the "Fort Wagon" card, allowing Musketeers to build and rebuild an entire frontline of Forts.
The Russians train infantry and Settlers only in groups (except in Forts) at a reduced cost and time, but it means resources for the whole group are needed before training begins, instead of buying one to put in a production queue and adding more as resources increase.
The Russians also have a unique military building that replaces the Barracks and Outpost called a Blockhouse. This building can train infantry units as well as defend territory. This makes the Russians a tough opponent when attacking their colony. Russians can build the Blockhouse in the Exploration Age, since it counts as an Outpost. This means that by the Commerce Age, Russians can already have their Barracks up, making their rush very early and very powerful.
In the campaign, Russia is involved twice. The Russian Ossus is the new center of the Circle, and is preparing to invade America through Canada. They are stopped by John Black, at the cost of his life. Ivan the Terrible, its ruler, is uninvolved, though the Russian Ossus is exactly the same civilization type as the normal in-game Russian civilization. They make another resurgence in the Act III scenario Last City of the Inca.
The Russian flag shown in the original game is the Imperial Standard at sea that was used between 1703–1917 by the Russian Empire. It was changed to the more famous tricolor in the Definitive Edition.
According to early screenshots prior to the release of Age of Empires III, the Russian flag in the game would be the civil ensign and national flag of the Russian Empire between 1705–1917.
According to the Age of Empires III User's Manual, the Russian flag in the game would be the Imperial Standard on land that was used between 1858–1917 by the Russian Empire.
The cathedral in the Home City of St. Petersburg is named and designed after St. Basil's Cathedral, which is actually located in Moscow.
The Russians' focus on cheap quantity-based units and excellent late-game defenses makes them an equivalent to the Egyptians in Age of Mythology.
The largest nation in Europe by area and population, Russia in 1500 was relatively backward and far from the Renaissance that was blossoming to its west. It was striving to expand and having success mainly to the east, toward Siberia. Under Peter the Great, a particularly able Romanov Tsar, they began an effort to import western technology and knowledge, but progress was very slow. They fought both the Swedes to the north and the Ottomans to the south with some success. They were able to field large armies from the great mass of serfs (near-slaves bound for life to the estates of aristocracy). They fought stubbornly and rigidly, but that could be effective, especially in defense of their homeland.
When Russia reached the eastern edge of Siberia, explorers were sent into the Pacific seeking the west coast of North America. Vitus Bering, a Dane with a long career in the Russian Navy, found the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea and southern Alaska in the middle 1700s. By the late 1700s they had established a small outpost in Alaskan waters and were hunting fur animals, especially the sea otter. Their small settlements and outposts eventually stretched down the American Pacific coast to northern California, but they were never very successful. In 1867 they sold Alaska to the United States.
By 1800 they had perhaps the largest army in Europe and had entered the Napoleonic Wars, switching sides as it suited them. Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 with a huge army, but the campaign was a disaster. The Russians retreated into their limitless land and even abandoned Moscow, while letting the Russian winter do its worst. The Russians followed the retreating French and helped bring about Napoleon's first abdication and exile in 1814.