In the seven-plus years that have elapsed since the unexpected collapse of the USSR and the reappearance of the Russian nation-state, international donors and policymakers alike have been compelled to grasp some very difficult lessons about the speed and ease with which postcommunist states could successfully integrate with the larger global political and economic system around them. An early euphoria that swept both Moscow and Washington has been replaced by a sober acknowledgment that the process of integration for all transition states, but Russia in particular, is not only traumatic and fraught with sudden, unexpected reverses, but fiercely resistant to short-term, piecemeal interventions. Unfortunately, the collapse of the ruble in August 1998 only confirmed suspicions by many observers that Russia was becoming, not a successful, mature market democracy, but in fact one of the weakest links in a larger, interdependent global system, one that could easily come undone by externally driven crises.