What Russia does need and can build, Milin continues, “are airfields. Many, hundreds more even. Airfields which can be used both for peaceful purposes and military ones.”
Given how enormous the country is and how underserviced it is by highways and rail lines, airports are a key way of linking the country together and providing the basic infrastructure for shifting investments and workers in peacetime and soldiers in the event of war. If Russia built more airports, it would boost its GDP.
Just how far is Russia behind other countries? The numbers tell the story: the US now has 13,513 airports; Brazil, 4093; Mexico, 1714; Papua New Guinea, 561, Venezuela, 444; and Iran, 319. Russia in contrast has 228, down from 1450 in 1991. It thus has today 60 times fewer airports than the US and fewer than half as many of these facilities as Papua New Guinea.