Russia’s economic crisis in the summer of 1998 has renewed debate as to whether the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has helped, hindered or been irrelevant to economic transition in the core of the former Soviet Union. The authors examine the relationship between the Fund and Russia over the past ten years, highlighting a mixed record of successes, failures and the limits of the Fund’s role. They argue that the institution may well have also inadvertently facilitated the rise of political forces which are today opposed to the second phase of reforms which Russia so desperately needs. In conclusion, the authors question whether the IMF ought to continue to lead Western attempts to foster stability and growth in Russia.