Jennifer Kohnke

Russia’s Foreign Friends

Foreign-funded organizations have played a crucial role in helping Russia to discard inefficient Soviet-era structures and pursue a society based on democracy, the rule of law, and a market economy. But recent measures taken by Russia's government undermine the progress that such partnerships have enabled over the last two decades.

NEW YORK – For the last nine years, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has hosted the Valdai International Discussion Club, devoting time and attention to leading Russia experts from around the world. Putin’s interest in these discussions suggests that he is open to alternative perspectives about Russia’s development and global role. But his government’s position toward noncommercial institutions with foreign ties and foreign organizations operating in Russia raises concerns that it has lost sight of the value of international cooperation.

Since Putin first became president in 2000, Russia’s political, economic, and social stability has been largely restored. But, while his government’s policies helped to put Russia on the path to recovery, public- and private-sector entities worldwide also contributed, devoting time, energy, and capital to helping Russia to discard inefficient Soviet-era structures and pursue a society based on democratic principles, the rule of law, and a market economy.

Their efforts bolstered Russia’s transformation into a stable, prosperous, and internationally engaged country. Rather than pursuing their own interests, foreign-funded organizations have largely based their actions on concern for Russia and its citizens, and on the belief that what is good for Russia is good for the rest of the world. Such sentiments have guided Russia-relevant programs for decades – in both turbulent and prosperous times.

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