Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Failure to Divert Siberian River Water to Central Asia Costing Moscow Its Influence There, Zakhvatov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 14 – When the Gorbachev regime cancelled plans to divert Siberian river water to Central Asia, it did so because of the objections of environmentalists that it would destroy Siberia and of economists that it would cost too much, Andrey Zakhvatov says. No one, at least in public, talked about the geopolitical consequences.

            But Zakhvatov, now a pensioner but in the 1970s and 1980s one of the hydrologists who worked on the plan, says that that decision has been responsible for the increasing “drift away” from Russia of the now independent Central Asian republics, the loss of Moscow’s influence there, and the rise of China in the region (

            In an impassioned plea to revive the project, the hydrologist says that “Russia’s geopolitical interests require unique solutions” and that they must take into account the ways in which decisions apparently far from politics can have serious political consequences for Moscow.

            This year, there has been a boomlet of support for the revival of Siberian river diversion projects (, but Zakhvatov’s article is the most explicit and prominent of these appeals. Its appearance suggests that “the diversion that would not die” may be about to take on new life.


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