Sunday, December 3, 2023

Six Corridors within Russian Federation May have Consequences as Large as Three Elsewhere in Former Soviet Space

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 30 – Since 1991, many observers both in Moscow and the West have focused on three corridors near the borders of the Russian Federation: the Suwalki Corridor between Belarus and Kaliningrad, the Focsani Gates along the Romanian border between Ukraine and Moldova and the Zengezur Corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan

            The first and third of these corridors have attracted the most attention because it is widely assumed that Moscow would likely try to seize them in the event of a broader war with NATO and so Western countries have had to make plans as to how they would defend these corridors from any Russian thrust.

            The third, the land bridge between Azerbaijan proper and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan that passes through the Armenian oblast of Syunik is now gaining attention as Baku and Yerevan seek to reach a peace accord that would among other things reopen transportation routes closed by the conflict between the two countries since the early 1990s.

            The six corridors within the current borders of the Russian Federation not surprisingly have garnered less attention because they don’t directly challenge international borders and involve various ethno-national claims on the territory of other portions of the Russian state. But there are reasons to think that all will become more important as Russia disintegrates.

             That is because they will challenge both Moscow's control in a series of key regions and make the pursuit of independence by some republics and regions more likely. Moreover, they will involve foreign countries either by linking areas in Russia to them or opening trade between these regions and international markets. 

            The six are:

·       The Circassian Corridor between the Adygey Republic and the Republic of Georgia that passes through Russia’s Krasnodar Kray,

·       The Astrakhan Corridor on the territory of Astrakhan Oblast between the Kalmyk Republic and Kazakhstan,

·       The Kuvandyk or Orenburg Corridor which passes through the middle of Russia’s Orenburg Oblast and connects the five non-Russian republics with Kazakhstan,

·       The Kudymkar Corridor which passes through Perm Kray and separates the Komi Republic from the Udmurt Republic and the four other national republics of the Middle Volga,

·       The Nenets Corridor on the territory of the Nenets AD which separates the Komi Republic from the Arctic Ocean, and

·       The Bodaybin Corridor which passes through Krasnoyarsk Kray and separates the Sakha Republic from the Buryat Republic.


Most of these are latent issues, that is, they are sometimes discussed by nationalist activists and officials responsible for holding the former in check.  But one is now gaining broader traction, that of the land bridge between the republics of the Middle Volga – Idel-Ural – and Kazakhstan – and it is likely to spark greater interest in the other five.

On the most recent discussions of it whose opening would give the Idel-Ural republics a foreign border with Kazakhstan and thus ease their path to becoming independent countries, see and

For background on this corridor and about Moscow’s alarm about interest in it, see,,,,,,, and

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