This is how we play Russia. First turn take Poland (and now Baltic States with new rule). First 3 - 4 turns all IPC’s are dumped in the North to fight over Finland. Tanks from the East brought to the West. Chinese communist push as hard as they can into Japan (they basically take a Japanese territory for 1-2 turns before they are kicked back home in 1- 2 turns after that). Put 1 infantry in every spot that the Axis can attack only until they next to a city. Try to have counter attack equipment for bad Axis rolls/strategies or tank/plane piles with no support. Germany has to leave a unit behind on every spot to stop partisans and they have to fight over every single territory (even 1 Russian territory that has 1 infantry ties up 2 or 3 Axis units that turn, and then Axis have to leave behind something to stop the partisan!). The first 10 territories Germany owns in the center and the south isn’t that important. The US loans 20 IPC to Russia per turn (Russia usually gets about half of it). Russia keeps 15 infantry in the East at all times and 10 of them are in the fortress. Russia must take Finnish territory next to Leningrad by turn 4. This is now harder with Finland having the extra 4 infantry. UK keeps Russian convoy box open.
Strategies are hard to keep consistent but the above is what we have found to keep Russia alive. The lend lease every turn and building fortresses on the Northern IC and Stalingrad and/or Moscow (when they are in trouble) also are critical. Germany usually gets next to Stalingrad around turn 8 or 9 but are weak by then. They also generally take Leningrad around this time but can’t hold it. This could change with the new Baltic States rule, new Spain rule, and the extra 4 infantry for Finland.
I want to play this about 4 more times before we make more comments on Russia that I’m confident with.