The Kremlin’s provocative decision to end two decades of work in post-Soviet Russia by the United States Agency for International Development — with little warning ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline — was announced on Tuesday by the State Department in Washington. The move stands to cut off aid that currently totals about $50 million a year, a relatively small sum but a potentially devastating blow for groups that came to rely on foreign money as domestic controls over politics tightened.

American officials, who were informed of the decision earlier this month, quickly pledged to maneuver around the Kremlin. The Obama administration last October proposed the creation of a new $50 million fund— essentially an endowment for a private foundation established under Russian law — for Russian civil society groups, and one senior administration official said work on that project would speed up…

Russia is not alone in its resentment of United States-led democracy building efforts. Those have become a sore point for a number of countries in recent years, including allies like Egypt and Pakistan, which have objected to outside groups telling them how to run their affairs. The aid agency’s cold war history of providing a front for American intelligence agencies is still fresh in the memories of foreign officials, many of whom have never fully dropped their suspicions.