While it is easy to critique reform programs after the fact–and therefore also easy to dismiss critics–understanding why economic assistance to Russia seems to have failed remains a vitally important task for the United States. We must learn the lessons of the Russian experience with economic reform not only in order to be able to more successfully assist Russia in the future, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in order to advance our understanding of the principals of economic assistance and reform in the more general context of democratizing countries around the world.
Foreign economic assistance to Russia has been criticized on a number of fronts:
• Many argue that economic assistance to Russia has been ineffective; after nearly 10 years of economic reform, key economic goals have not been achieved;
• It is argued that economic aid to Russia was overly politicized; that is, economic assistance has served political rather than economic objectives; and
• Perhaps most seriously, some have argued that foreign economic assistance to Russia has actually worsened the Russian economy by fostering corruption. […]