JERUSALEM: Relations between the West, primarily the United States, and Russia are currently running on two parallel, and completely distinct, tracks: the economic and the political. This is absurd, for both Russia and the West.
On the economic track, the structural crisis and eventual reform of the Russian economy are at the center of Western concerns. Over the last few years, Western governments and institutions like the IMF provided tens of billions of dollars in assistance and credits to help the faltering reforms in Russia and to sustain its political system - basically Boris Yeltsin’s semi-authoritarian regime.
That Yeltsin’s government used tanks to suppress opposition from a legitimate, though deeply flawed, Duma and has been involved in what, under different circumstances, would have been viewed in the West as a genocidal war in Chechnya, was basically overlooked. The attempt at economic reform and relative political stability took precedence - as certainly it is not in the West’s interest to see Russia descend into chaos.
As the recent financial and political crisis in Moscow suggests, Russia will continue to be dependent for many years to come on Western economic support.