Staunton, August 19 – Russian President Vladimir Putin attracted attention recently for his commitment to building a new high-speed ring road around Moscow, but another commitment, this one from officials in Moscow oblast, the region that surrounds the Russian capital, may say more about the state of transportation in that country.
On Friday, the Auto.vesti.ru portal reported that the oblast government has committed itself to eliminating all unpaved roads in the region over the next five years, a task that it has not met in the past and that, that experience suggests, it may not meet by 2018 either (auto.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=526258&cid=24).
Stories about disastrous Russian roads in Siberia and the Far East are a staple of Moscovite and Western coverage as are references to “roads and fools” [“dorogi i duraki”] as being the country’s two biggest problems. But the new commitment by Moscow oblast shows that these problems are not only bigger but far closer to the center than many acknowledge.
Without adequate highways or well-developed rail and air networks, both of which the enormous Russian Federation lacks, it is almost impossible that the center can integrate the country and ever more likely that regions will either have to count only on themselves or look abroad in order to prosper or even surprise.
But despite repeated government promises to improve all three of these networks, the situation appears to be deteriorating with the only quota being reliably met that of promises from Russian officials that in the future, conditions will somehow be different.