What the West Can and Cannot Do

For the past two weeks, President Clinton has been talking up the need to back Russia's reformers. By Thursday, U.S. officials were wondering if there would be any left to support. As the Congress of People's Deputies sought to strip Boris Yeltsin of his power, the problem for Washington and the West was whether their plans for nurturing the tender shoots of democracy and capitalism in Russia by bolstering his presidency were worth pursuing.

"We're on pins and needles," acknowledges a senior U.S. official. The West has a huge stake in Yeltsin, to the extent that he has come to embody...

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