Saturday, June 11, 2022

Putin Calls for Reorienting Russia’s Transportation Network from the West to the East and the South with New Giant Projects

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 24 – Until the imposition of Western sanctions, Russia’s transportation network was concentrated in the western portion of the country, with most trade going through St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin says; but now, the West is declining in importance as a trading partner and Russia must develop its transport network to the east and the south.

            Speaking to a conference of specialists on the Russian transportation, the Kremlin leader said that this reorientation must be the focus of officials at all levels and that it will involve huge projects that will be funded by Moscow which will allow the branch to move from “inertia” to radical change quickly (

            Unless Russia makes this kind of change, Putin continued, it will always be in the position of playing catch up with others, the same argument Soviet leaders regularly made to justify large new projects rather than improving existing infrastructure, a danger that likely will remain the fate of much of the road and rail inventory of the Russian Federation.

            Among the giant projects Putin and other participants in the meeting called for are the development of a dramatically expanded rail network in the east, new logistical arrangements through Kazakhstan and Mongolia, as well as links through the Southern Caucasus, something that will require resolution of the dispute over the Nakhichevan corridor.

            That may explain why Moscow is pushing for resolution of the status of that region ( and Also mentioned at the meeting is another giant project in the south, expanding the water route connecting the Caspian and Sea of Azov (

            The shift in Russia’s transportation network Putin is calling for will involve not only massive expenditures if it goes forward but will also create new classes of winners and losers in the country’s regions and in central ministries and Moscow-based industries. As a result, Putin’s words are certain to trigger new battles in public and behind the scenes among all players.

            At the end of Soviet times, such fights often had the effect of killing or gutting planned giant projects, one of the reasons why Mikhail Gorbachev even before he became party leader urged a shift away from giant projects. And that makes Putin’s comment yet another milepost in his drive to turn Russia away from the directions it has been pursuing since the late 1980s.

No comments:

Post a Comment