Continued from page 1

Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, said, “The major success here 18 months in is that the relaitonship is back to a place where you can have a productive back-and-forth exchange, as opposed to where it was at the end of 2008, when basic diplomacy was not really possible.”

Mr. McFaul said he was optimistic about Mr. Medvedev’s plan for economic modernization. He pointed out that Mr. Medvedev visited companies in Silicon Valley on Wednesday.

On the issue of democracy and human rights, Russia in recent years has become less democratic. Major media in the country have been centralized around national energy concerns, and many observers argue that Mr. Putin, who was president before Mr. Medvedev, is the real power in Moscow.

In 2006, Russian reporter Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, who uncovered inhumane practices by the Russian military in its campaign in Chechnya, was murdered in her Moscow apartment building. Human rights group consider her murder unsolved and as having a chilling effect on the country’s independent press.

Mr. Kramer said he would like to see human rights and democracy a higher priority for U.S. diplomacy with Russia. “I would like to see political modernization, not just economic modernization,” he said.

Ms. Hurlburt said there is only so much the United States can about the nastier aspects of the Russian state.

“There are some really disappointing features of the Russian state,” she said. “There are ocassionally glimmers of optimism, but Russia is an immense country, and any U.S. administration has very limited influence over its domestic politics.”