Russia is broke
Erm, where do you get your economy news? Things have changed a great deal since the nineties. These days, in the area of mining and energy, everyone wants to do business in Russia and as a state she's in a strong bargaining position.
Do I have to point out that this is not about arguing that Russia is an all-healthy democracy (hey, is the U.S. a perfectly healthy democracy at present?) that we'd be completely comfortable with? I am not denying Russia has an unplesant dark underbelly, but it's got plenty of cash, raw assets (steel, oil, technical know-how) and a good naval and military tradition. She is probably in a better position to expand her military arm, and do it in the fast lane, than for instance Britain, Germany, Poland or Canada.
Again I don't think the Russian leadership is simply some sort of mafia rule. There's a good deal of backroom dealing but that doesn't make them a republic of thieves.
I'd agree with Oniya that if the choice is between a militarily strong China and a similar Russia, then Russia is better. We're not going to see a return to the bipolar order with just two superpowers, and with both Russia and China on the rise Russia is not gonna be able to go for an agenda of world domination. Russia seems more reliable, and even if much of its city people are now apathetic to democracy, seen as something you're making your own and taking part in, Russia is a much less rigid state than China.