Russia has done very well since the fall of communism, replacing a whole culture and society is not easy.
Russia being part of nato makes russia and nato stronger than russia on the outsides. nato has taken on a new role, fighting terror and becoming involved in smaller wars, the focus in the future will be on a battle between the countries of the middle east and the west. Russia on side will mean that it will not put its lot in with the middle eastern countries.
Russia is fighting a war on terror as well, it can only help nato to have russia further involved, otherwise you run the risk of russia setting up its own alliance.
It is amazing what can be accomplised when nobody takes the credit