What's the big picture?
How about, Russia's future as a non-EU European country?
For all its vastness, the land is far more heavily populated in the West, as hardly anyone wants to live in the cruel cold of the Siberian winter:
And the massive blue-sky concept, mooted in 2008, of a Trans-Asian Corridor of Development? Here's a map of how it could look:
A company called Yaconto LLC had ambitious plans along the same lines, with a naval base at Tuapse (two hours' drive from Sochi, on the Black Sea):
Yaconto (founded by a Sergey P Yakunin) appears to have ceased trading, but it's interesting to note that further up the same coastline is the port of Novorossiysk, which has indeed been developed, as I noted in an earlier post:
And three days ago, President Putin told officials to come up with a plan to develop Russia's Black Sea fleet.
Like China, Russia is under pressure to maintain economic momentum, like a fox with its tail on fire. Her aim - perhaps unattainable - is to achieve 7% pa GDP growth to 2020: have a look at these briefings from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There's a long list of challenges to be overcome, including corruption and ineffective law and regulation.
As with China, a rapidly-growing economy is needed to tackle a host of problems, not least demographic challenges. There's a danger of collapse if their economies stall.
We can only hope that this is not the West's intention.
Some previous BOM posts on Russia:
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