International experience shows that public–private partnerships can harness the financial and managerial resources of private business to implement infrastructure projects and related services. In Russia, however, such partnerships have run up against significant obstacles. Based on the experiences of the Western High-Speed Diameter highway public–private partnership project in Saint Petersburg, this paper scrutinises the investment attractiveness of Russian infrastructure projects generally and discusses critical steps to implementing further public–private partnerships in the country. © 2015, (publisher). All rights reserved.