Russia's Impossible Choices (George Friedman) from Real Clear World
"... the Russian economy is facing disaster. These loans are not all that expensive, and they build Russian influence. By announcing that Russia would stop offering them, the Russian government is telegraphing to its public and the world that its situation is as bad as the pessimists have said. ... the decision to cut these loans should be considered in its own right. In suspending these loans, the Russians are cutting one of their major foreign policy tools. During the halcyon days when oil prices were more than $100 a barrel, the Russians used loans to shape the behavior of foreign governments."