by Don  

The Russian word for border is граница. It can be used of national borders or of borders between concepts:

Граница между Россией и Южной Осетией может быть ликвидирована. (adapted from this source) The border between Russia and Southern Osetia may be removed.
Где граница между правами человека и нравственностью? (source) Where is the border between human rights and morality?
Где граница между ложью и истиной? (source) Where is the dividing line between a lie and the truth?

The Russians very often use the phrase “beyond the border” in the sense of “out of the country” or “abroad.” The idea can be expressed as a location phrase, using за followed by the instrumental case:

— Когда ты в прошлый раз был за границей?
— В 1997-ом году.
“When were you last out of the country?”
“In 1997.”
— Твой брат был за границей?
— Ещё бы! Он уже посетил свыше тридцати семи стран.
“Has your brother been out of the country?”
“And how! He has already visited more than thirty-seven countries.”

The idea can also be expressed as a motion phrase, using за followed by the accusative case:

— Летом я поеду за границу.
— Правда? Куда?
— Во Францию.
“I'm going abroad this summer.”
“Really? Where to?”

If somone or something comes from outside of the country, you can use the preposition из-за followed by the genitive case:

Он только что вернулся из-за границы. He just got back into the country. (Lit., he just returned from beyond the border.)
В советское время считалось подозрительным получать письма из-за границы. During the Soviet period receiving letters from abroad was considered suspicious.

The phrase «за границей» has become such a standard part of the language that an adjective has even been made of it, заграничный, which is usually translated as “foreign” or “external.”

Заграничный паспорт — официальный документ, удостоверяющий личность гражданина Российской Федерации при выезде за пределы страны, а также при въезде на территорию Российской Федерации из заграничной поездки. (adapted from this source) An external passport is the official document that identifies a citizen of the Russian Federation when leaving the country or when entering the territory of the Russian Federation from a trip abroad.
Машины «Пежо» заграничного производства, а не отечественного. Peugeot automobiles are of foreign manufacture, not domestic.
Почему русские мужики так любят заграничные машины? Why do Russian guys like foreign cars so much?


Comment from: Marina [Visitor]

Another example: Мы с Мухтаром на границе охраняем честь столицы.
But I don’t remember the source :)

09/21/11 @ 05:49
Comment from: Oleg [Visitor]

Last two examples sound absolutely correct, but a bit old-fashioned. People usually use word “иностранный” in such cases nowadays.

11/28/09 @ 13:15
Comment from: Константин [Visitor]

You forgot two very important words with the same root - пограничный и пограничник

11/28/09 @ 10:29

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