Staunton, June 29 –The horrific flooding in the Trans-Baikal has inflicted enormous human suffering compounded by the incompetence, malfeasance and dishonesty of Russian officials, all of which have been widely recognized by the victims and their families and reported in the Russian media (sibreal.org/a/30027591.html).
But one aspect of the situation, perhaps the most instructive of all, has attracted relatively little attention. The flooding has blocked all road traffic between Russia west of Lake Baikal and Russia east of that body of water, cutting the country in two as far as that form of transportation is concerned (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/06/29/81068-voda-pribyvaet-i-dostignet-15-metrov).
This blockage is an indication of just how poorly developed Russia’s infrastructure is. In many countries, a flood of the dimensions of the one around Baikal would disrupt ground transport; but in most, there would be alternatives, routes that might take longer but that could still ensure the delivery of critical supplies of food and medicine.
Unfortunately, in most of Russia outside of the ring road around Moscow there are no alternatives: there is one road, one pipeline, and one rail line; and if anything happens to any one of those arteries, the people who depend on it are going to suffer. That the Russian authorities have chosen to ignore this and spend money instead on super projects is thus the real crime.
One can only hope and pray that the waters will recede soon and the survivors of this tragedy will begin the long road to recovery – and one can also only hope and pray that the Kremlin will change its approach to the Russians outside of its charmed circle, although hopes for that are far dimmer than hopes for the recovery of the people of the Trans-Baikal.