Staunton, April 29 – In a clear swipe at Aleksey Kudrin who has argued for making major urban agglomerations the focus of Moscow’s policies and in an indication that any redrawing of borders with the Russian Federation won’t be based on them alone, Vladimir Putin says he favors developing infrastructure that connects such cities rather than on the cities alone.
Speaking at a meeting charged with coming up with a spatial development plan, the Kremlin leader dismissed the agglomeration-centric plan saying that “another approach is now winning out” (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2018/04/27/768170-putin-goroda and news.mail.ru/politics/33314182/?frommail=1).
Putin thus rejected the arguments of Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, and especially former finance minister Aleksey Kudrin. Others restrained from commenting, supported the inter-urban infrastructure ideas or suggested that the two approaches could at a certain point be combined.
Vladimir Redkin, director of Fitch Ratings in Russia, for example, took the latter position, arguing that linking major agglomerations, such as Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, requires infrastructure development but of a kind that is in aid of these large cities. There needs to be a balance lest the regions are harmed.
Pavel Chistyakov, vice president of the Moscow Center on Infrastructure Economics, says that the development of cities and villages depends on the growth of transportation infrastructure and that large cities and small ones must be linked together into “a single economic space.”
What was not said at the meeting but undoubtedly informed Putin’s decision is that a Russia of agglomerations would be subject to far more fissiparous tendencies than even the current one and that Russia’s national security and territorial integrity are at risk unless the connections among the countries various parts are dramatically improved.