One thing you have to understand is that Russia is a political country. You can’t do things alone. Never mind about the Kremlin. That is another ocean you probably won’t have to challenge. But, even at the daily business level, it can be like crossing a big pond in a small boat. Or, as in the famous Repin painting above, like pulling the boat upstream. It is better to know you may need help on the oars and to prepare by choosing your crew yourself. In Russia they call it a “roof” which means political relationships that hopefully will be there to help when you need it. Also you hope they will leave you alone to manage your business and not interfere. In my company, we were fortunate to have trustworty and friendly connections which did just that. Some roofs leak in a storm; others are overwhelming and starve you of sun to grow in. Choose carefully.
It’s like getting married. Be careful to pick the right one as you may be with them a long time. So often I found Americans who had made some initial contacts, came to Moscow for a week and went home thinking they had made a deal. It doesn’t happen that way. Again, here is where patience pays. Patience is strength.