Sunday, April 7, 2024

Population Flight from Russian Far East Being Exacerbated by Climate Change, Klepach Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 5 – The population of the Far Eastern Federal District has declined by more than ten percent over the last 20 years and is projected to decline further by approximately the same amount by mid-century, a trend that makes it difficult for that region to interact with China and other Pacific rim states and threatens Russia’s national security, Andrey Klepach says.

            The main reasons for this decline, the senior economist at VEB says, are well-known: the extreme economic and political centralization of Russia and the consequent emptying out of rural areas and especially those of regions like the Far Eastern FD which are distant from Moscow (

            But there is an additional factor Klepach cites that means that Moscow’s effort to ensure its control over the Far East will continue is going to face even more difficulties in the future than it has in the past; and that is climate change, a global process that means conditions in European Russia will improve by mid-century but those in parts of the Far East will deteriorate.

            Because of projected increases in humidity, precipitation and wind speed in the TransBaikal and the southern portions of the Far Eastern FD, “the favorable zone that now exists there may disappear,” the economist says the research shows; and as a result, ever more people now there will seek to leave.

            That means, he continues, that Russia’s ability to take advantage of the growth in China and the Asia Pacific rim will decline and could mean that other countries – and China in the first instance – with large populations will expand into a region that Moscow views as permanently part of the Russian Federation.

            As a result, Klepach says costs of keeping people there let alone attracting  more people to those areas will be prohibitive, far greater than Moscow has been willing to spend up to now and far less than it is likely to be able to do if it continues to spend money the way it is doing at present. 

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