U.S. programs and the Russian crisis are now entering a new phase. The Freedom Support Act is about to decline precipitously, forcing many existing programs to the verge of extinction. At the same time, Russia has exhausted the intellectual and infrastructural capital it inherited from the Soviet era and faces a tremendous challenge in replacing those costly necessities. Funds for bricks and mortar are the hardest money to raise everywhere.
In the absence of a clear Russian central government policy, the best approach is to work with the local institutions that seem to be receptive, and to do this with limited and realistic goals, including the realization that
We should be willing to work with the federal and local governments, when they show a willingness to be cooperative. However, cooperation is a two-way process; they will not just accept whatever we say. Some Russian S&T leaders have indeed recognized that reform is crucial and inevitable. This is especially true in the educational sector.
Many people in Russia and the United States see a panacea in commercialization. The new mantra asserts commercialization as the solution to such problems as sustainability, exit strategies, and funding cuts. However, few know how to carry out commercialization, and even the people who succeed realize it might cover only 10 percent of development activities. Commercialization is only viable as a long-term program of economic development, and there is a need for S&T management training. The best exit strategy is teaching and training in Russia so that not everyone hoards information, with the realization that it will not work all the time. In short, programs need to be targeted, the programs should encourage competition in Russia, and they should accept variable results.