It is clear that the economic dimension of the US-Russian relationship has a strong potential for mutual gain. Russia’s economic future will depend on its options and today it is in a dilemma: either it follows the state model and an economic recession takes place or it opens its economy, integrates it into the world economy and develops. We hope Russia chooses the second alternative.
It is necessary that Russia leaves its protectionist policy behind. It will allow developing competition and the entrepreneur spirit and it will also benefit the Russian economy. It is the future that Russia and its friends want to build. The United States wants to see a strong and democratic Russia that can be a model for the other countries of the region. A win-win situation has to be developed instead of a game with a null balance as some say. Russia still has to make some improvements: reduce its democracy, reform monopolies, build democracy and fight corruption.
The United States supports Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) but, in order to achieve it, Moscow will have to make efforts to combat protectionism and to further protect intellectual property. Russian has already taken some steps but there is still work to do. The energy sector is another field in which we can all win. The US companies could provide the capital needed for the development of Russian gas and oil industries. Recently, we have witnessed a rapprochement between Russian and US companies in this field but the uncertainty around Yukos and the steps taken to reaffirm the State control over the energy sector halt these advancements.
The WTO and the energy sector are two examples of the kind of reforms that are necessary. The arbitrary implementation of the law is the safest path towards economic bankruptcy. The United States are interested in Russia becoming a real economic power and, for that, it has to reform itself.

Moscow Times (Russia)

The World Needs a Strong Russia”, by Alexander Vershbow, Moscow Times, April 11, 2005.