In the wake of Sunday's contested parliamentary elections, the Russian security services have made obvious and clumsy efforts to shut down independent news sources. But controlling information online will prove impossible, and continued attempts to do so will only backfire.
Although Russia has projected itself more forcefully on the world stage since the beginning of the Putin era, its foreign policy still lacks any sort of grand strategic vision. Russian leaders continue to squabble over issues from NATO expansion to the world economy. But they are particularly concerned about Russia's identity, especially with regard to the post-Soviet states. If the Bush administration fails to devise a coherent policy of its own toward its former rival, it may face serious problems down the road.
The Caspian basin holds enormous oil and gas deposits that could play a critical role in the world's economic future. But getting them out of the ground and onto the market requires overcoming formidable political and geographic problems. For its own sake as well as the region's, Washington should do whatever is necessary to ensure the emergence of secure and independent routes for Caspian energy to reach the outside world.