Chapter 3 - The challenge of the East
3.1 "Inner East" (the scope of the concept)
Analyzing the geopolitical problems of the Russian East, we apply the same method as in the case of the North, dividing the issue into three components:
- 1.Center - East
- 2.Relations between the sectors of the East among themselves
- 3.Relations of these sectors with other regions and geopolitical zones of Russia.
But first you need to determine what is meant by the "Russian East". We must immediately emphasize the difference between the East as a purely geographical concept and the East cultural, civilizational, historical. Thus, it is customary to include in the cultural East all the territories of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor, Central Asia all the way to Pakistan and further to the Philippines (Islamic world) and India, while the concept is applied to China and Indochina, as well as to the countries of the Pacific region "Far East". From the position of Russia, geographically, all this represents the South, stretching from the distant Maghreb West to the Pacific Far East.
On the other hand, within the framework of Russia itself, the “East” is completely different geographical and geopolitical realities - this is a territory stretching from the Volga region (Tatarstan) through the Urals and Siberia, right up to the Pacific Ocean. This geopolitical category may be called the “Russian East” or the “Inland East”. Studying the internal geopolitics of Russia, it is necessary to take as the “East” precisely this second concept, the “internal East”, the geographical territories lying to the East of the Center (Moscow).
In this case, the Caucasus and Central Asia will fall into the category of “South” and will be considered in the corresponding chapter.
Given that we consider Russia's internal geopolitics as an “open system” that does not coincide with the administrative borders of the Russian Federation, based on the “geopolitical rays” method, the allocation of geopolitical zones often falls on the territory of neighboring states, if there is a geopolitical, ethnic and geographic landscape unity. For this reason, both the Southern Urals and Northern Kazakhstan from Aktyubinsk to Semipalatinsk at approximately the 50th latitude should be included in the "inner East" of Russia. In addition, Mongolia, Xinjiang and Manchuria are geopolitically included in the South sector in relation to Russia. Consequently, all of South Siberia, Altai, Tuva, Buryatia, Amur Region and Primorye (plus the southern half of the Khabarovsk Territory) are included in the strip of the “Inland East” along with the Central Siberian regions located south of the “Northern Trapezium”.
So, the “inner East” should be considered a rectangle extending from Kazan and the Urals to the Pacific Ocean.
3.2 Belt of “Russian Siberia” (structure)
Climatically, the Russian East is very different from the North. This is a zone with a temperate continental climate. In the Volga region and in the Urals, as well as in Siberia and Primorye, a forest zone is predominantly located. From northern Kazakhstan to Lake Baikal there is a narrowing wedge of the steppes. Altai and Amur Region massifs of low mountains. Most of the territories are quite densely populated and are reliefs favorable for living and managing.
The ethnic composition of the inner East of Russia is as follows: the vast majority are Russians, absent-mindedly living in national republics and compactly in most Siberian lands. Several ethnic zones can be distinguished that coincide in general terms with the corresponding autonomies and republics.
Tatarstan is located in the Volga region, a rather monolithic ethno-national entity that preserves the traditions of political independence and a certain rivalry with Russia. This is the most vulnerable region (from the point of view of preserving the integrity of Russia), since the national identity of the Tatars is very developed. The most important factor that makes the problem of “Tatar separatism” nevertheless secondary, is the geographical location of Tatarstan in the middle of the continental space without maritime borders or proximity to a non-Russian state. As long as this geopolitical situation persists, this does not pose a particular danger to Russia. But in any case, the historical tradition of the Tatars requires increased attention to this region and the conduct of such a policy of the Center in relation to Kazan,thanks to which the geopolitical system of Tatarstan would be connected with purely Russian regions (possibly not geographically adjacent). At the same time, on the contrary, integration processes with Bashkiria, Udmurtia, Mordovia and Mari-el should be hindered. In addition, it makes sense to emphasize the territorial division of Tatarstan according to cultural and ethnic characteristics, since the Tatars are an ethnic group both by racial and cultural-religious factors. It also makes sense to encourage Russian migration to this republic.since the Tatars are an ethnical compound both by racial and cultural-religious factors. It also makes sense to encourage Russian migration to this republic.since the Tatars are an ethnical compound both by racial and cultural-religious factors. It also makes sense to encourage Russian migration to this republic.
Tatars are Turks and Muslims, and this makes them a geopolitical part of the Turkic-Islamic world. In this regard, the Center is confronted with a problem that represents the dominant feature of the entire geopolitics of the South (which will be discussed in the corresponding chapter). Tataria’s complete separation from this reality is impossible either by assimilation or by active geographical isolation. Therefore, the "Tatar question" is included as a separate article in the broader problem of Russia and Islam. The common denominator in solving all similar situations is the search for a geopolitical balance of interests of the “geographical axis of history” and the Islamic world. In this regard, anti-Atlanticism is, in all cases without exception, a common denominator that allows the founding of a long-term planetary alliance.In the case of Tatarstan, the natural continental nature of the Tatar nation, whose historical fate is inextricably linked with Eurasia, and when identifying the geopolitics of Eurasia with the geopolitics of Russia under the present conditions, a conscious and voluntary union is a deeper imperative than ethno-confessional differences should be especially emphasized.
More broadly, the Eurasian power of Russia is based on a combination of Slavic and Turkic elements, which gave rise to the Great Russian ethnos, which became the axis of the “continental state”, identified with heartland. Therefore, in the future, these two ethnic groups, Slavs and Turks (+ Ugrians and Mongols) remain the pillars of Eurasian geopolitics. Their future in the development of political and ethnic integration, and therefore the emphasis on ethnocultural differences, and especially the desire to give these differences a political form, contradict the logic of the historical fate of both Russians and Tatars. This topic should become the axis of relations between Moscow and Kazan, and it is possible that this will require the creation of a special “geopolitical lobby” that expresses the interests of Eurasia also politically (or metapolitically).
Almost the same considerations apply to Bashkiria, located south of Tatarstan. It also has a Turkic ethnic group professing Islam. The only difference is that the Bashkirs do not have such a manifested separatist tradition and such a developed national identity as the Tatars, who were the most active and “advanced” ethnic group in the entire Volga region. For this reason, Tatar-Bashkir ties can in no way contribute to geopolitical stability in this sector of the “inner East” of Russia, and the Center should do everything possible to integrate Bashkiria into the southern Urals regions populated by Russians and tear it away from its orientation towards Kazan . At the same time, it makes sense to emphasize the uniqueness of a purely Bashkir culture, its uniqueness, its difference from other Turkic-Islamic forms.Strengthening the geopolitical ties of Tataria with Bashkiria is extremely dangerous for Russia, since the southern administrative border of Bashkiria lies not far from Northern Kazakhstan, which (given the most unsuccessful development of the geopolitical situation) could theoretically become a springboard for Turkic-Islamic separatism. In this case, the heartland is in danger of being torn apart by a Turkic (pro-Turkish, i.e. pro-Atlantic) wedge right in the middle of the mainland. In this sense, the orientation of Tataria to the south, attempts to integrate with Bashkiria, and even the rapprochement of Bashkiria with the Orenburg region, are extremely negative trends that the continental policy of the Center should prevent at all costs. Bashkiria should strengthen latitudinal ties with Kuybyshev and Chelyabinsk, and meridian contacts with Kazan and Orenburg should, on the contrary, be weakened.
Further, from the Southern Urals (Chelyabinsk) to Krasnoyars, a strip of land actively occupied and occupied by Russians stretches. A geopolitical axis is clearly emerging from west to east, which historically corresponded to the Russians conquering Siberia: Chelyabinsk Omsk Novosibirsk Tomsk Kemerovo Krasnoyarsk Irkutsk. This entire belt is a developed industrial zone, and a city such as Novosibirsk is also the largest intellectual center. Moreover, in the ethnic sense, it is almost a purely Russian zone. A similar situation is repeated on the eastern side of Lake Baikal, where along the Baikal-Amur Railway from Chita to Khabarovsk and further south to Vladivostok, there is a continuation of the same strip, starting in the Southern Urals. The only deviation is Buryatia,territorially bordering Lake Baikal from the north and tearing apart the continuity of the otherwise homogeneous belt of “Russian Siberia”.
A parallel zone with a significant admixture of the Turkic (east of the Mongolian) population lies strictly south of this purely Russian belt. It begins in Northern Kazakhstan, from Aktyubinsk it flows through the territory of Kazakhstan to Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk and continues on the Russian territory in Altai (cradle of the Turkic ethnic group), in Khakassia, Tuva and Buryatia. At the same time, from Altai to Transbaikalia (Chita), this Turkic-Mongolian belt landscapeally and to a large extent ethnically smoothly passes into Mongolia, with no obvious geographical border with which actually exists. From a geopolitical point of view, this entire lower belt is part of the strategic space of “Russian Siberia”, and therefore it should be considered as a continuation of the “Russian East” to the south.The only exception is a fragment of Chinese territory (Chinese Manchuria), located from the eastern border with Mongolia to the Ussuri River. Based on logic, it should have been strategically controlled by Russia, because otherwise it would inevitably become an occasion for positional collisions between the “geopolitical axis of history” and territories geopolitically included in rimland, while China undoubtedly belongs to the rimland category (in this which geopolitics have never had a shadow of doubt).
The same geopolitical principle holds true for the named strip of “Russian Siberia”: the whole of this territorial sector must be actively integrated into a single geopolitical field, and the priority here will be latitudinal integration along the long axis of Chelyabinsk Khabarovsk (the meridian short axis Khabarovsk Vladivostok is a continuation of this line in a particular geopolitical sector). All this vast space is the main strategic advantage of Russia as a truly Eurasian power. Thanks to this South Siberian corridor, Russia is able to firmly connect the regions of the Center with the Pacific coast, thereby providing a potential highway for the full development of Siberia and the final exit of Moscow to the Pacific Ocean. This strip is the control lever of all Eurasia,including Europe, since the organization of high-tech continental communication from the Far East to the Far West thus allows us to restructure planetary reality that thalassocratic control of the oceans from the outside will lose its key importance. The resources of Siberia will eventually be connected with the high technologies of continental Europe and developed Japan, and when this can be realized, the planetary domination of thalassocracy will end.
The latitudinal integration of Siberia (the Chelyabinsk – Khabarovsk axis) is the most important strategic advantage that only Russia has. With the development of this area, the whole geopolitical history of the future can begin, in which case Spengler's prophecies will come true.
In a narrower, “internal” sense, the development of the integration of “Russian Siberia” makes it possible to expand geopolitical control along the meridian. The southern “Turkic-Mongolian” belt will be associated with more northern purely Russian territories, while the broadest ethnocultural autonomy will be accompanied by economic integration and strategic domination of the Russian axis of Chelyabinsk-Vladi east. Moreover, such heterogeneous entities as Kazakhstan, autonomous okrugs and republics on the territory of the Russian Federation, Mongolia and, possibly, some areas of Chinese Manchuria should be included in this process.
Along with this, a similar meridian vector is also assumed in the north, where the situation differs only in that the autochthonous non-Russian population is much more discharged, politically less developed and does not have a fresh historical experience of political sovereignty. In the Khanty-Mansiysk and Evenk districts, as well as in the Khabarovsk Territory, the limit of the northern expansion of the belt of “Russian Siberia” is established by a parallel process of internal integration of the “northern trapezoid”. This integration, unlike the complex geopolitical function of “Russian Siberia” (the Chelyabinsk – Khabarovsk axis), which has three development vectors (latitudinal, northern, and southern) and, in some cases, is confronted with established and rather independent political forms (states), has a simple, purely latitudinal character.Therefore, both geopolitical processes will develop in a different rhythm, and therefore, the specific resulting boundary between the development of “Russian Siberia” to the north and the general integration of the “northern trapezoid” will depend on unpredictable factors.
All these geopolitical vectors of development are not essentially something new and unexpected, since they turn out to be only a continuation of large-scale historical processes of Russia's movement to the east and the formation of the Eurasian power. The Russian route to the Pacific Ocean is not accidental, and the territories of Russian exploration of Siberia also follow clear geographical logic. This path corresponds to the relief border of the Forest and the Steppe, on the geopolitical synthesis of which the Russian State itself is based. On the "edge" of the northern taiga forests bordering the steppe (or forest-steppe), the Russian explorers of Siberia moved, settling on the most suitable lands for housing and agriculture. From Chelyabinsk to Lake Baikal, this landscape sector is a narrowing wedge. And from Baikal to the Pacific coast it is a continuous zone of northern forests,gradually and imperceptibly turning into tropical forests. At the same time, the percentage of uplands and mountain ranges increases.
This zone from Baikal to the mouth of the Amur again returns to the Lenaland problem, which was already arising when we dismantled the Yakut sector of the Northern Trapeze.
3.3 Positional battle for Lenaland
As in the case of Yakutia (when analyzing the geopolitics of the Russian North), when approaching Eastern Siberia, extending east of the Yenisei, we are faced with a number of geopolitical problems. Looking ahead, we note that for the third time we will encounter difficulties even when we get to the analysis of the eastern sector of the “Eurasian South”.
Already from a purely geographical point of view, behind Baikal, a serious relief change begins in comparison with all the more western sectors of Eurasia. There, between the continental forests in the north and tropical (mountain) forests in the south, steppe zones necessarily ran, which created natural symmetry, with the central region, the first (steppe) peripheral circle and border reliefs of tropical forests and mountains being highlighted. This picture is preserved from Moldova to Altai, to the north the steppe layer simply disappears. In the case of Eastern Siberia, we are dealing with a completely new geopolitical and landscape region, requiring other positional solutions. Parallel to the unexpected landscape “challenge” (a smooth transition of continental forests into tropical forests against the backdrop of mountains,hills and hills) an extremely unfortunate ethnopolitical picture is also revealed of the presence in the region of several internal and external national entities, whose geopolitical loyalty to Russia is not so obvious. Against the backdrop of the extremely weak population of the entire Lenaland region by Russians, the geopolitical picture becomes extremely alarming.
Firstly, the territory of Buryatia. It violates the continuity of the actual Russian Siberian belt, protruding far north of Lake Baikal. Buryats are Lamaists, and at critical moments in Russian history they tried to establish an independent theocratic state on their territory, oriented to Mongolia and Tibet. By itself, this does not yet give cause for concern, but here a new problem arises, the territorial proximity of the southern borders of Yakutia to the northern borders of Buryatia. The Yakuts belong to the Turkic group, are significantly Christianized, but often preserve the ancient shamanistic traditions. However, some groups profess Lamaism. If Yakutia has access to the sea and the border of Buryatia with Mongolia, all this poses a danger of a potential geopolitical blockwhich would have more prerequisites for relative geopolitical independence than Tatarstan or some North Caucasian peoples, whose separatism is obvious. If we add to this the proximity of the Pacific coast, which is extremely poorly populated by Russians, the danger doubles due to the possible control of the thalassocracy over the coastal zones (or sectors of the zones, potential corridors from Lenaland to the Pacific Ocean). And finally, the matter is further compounded by the fact that the south of Yakutia from the northeastern border of China is separated by a rather thin strip of the Amur region, which gives reason to open a direct geopolitical corridor from the southern Chinese coast of the Indian Ocean to the Laptev Sea in the North.
All these potential geopolitical configurations are extremely alarming. There is no doubt that such a picture cannot but seem extremely tempting to the Atlantic strategists, since the rich land, resources and unique in terms of strategic opportunities Lenaland is in a very vulnerable position, from a geopolitical point of view, and any weakening of Russian control over this region can immediately cause irreversible rejection of a giant piece of the Eurasian continent from the very geographical axis of history. To prevent these events, it is not enough just to strengthen the military contingent located in the Far East or in the Amur region. It is necessary to take large-scale geopolitical steps, since this is no more and no less as a potential positional war. What should I pay special attention to:
- 1.It is important to strengthen the strategic presence of the Center representatives in the south of Yakutia. This is achieved through directed migration and systematic “colonization” of lands by peoples from more western regions.
- 2.The same thing should be done with the lands lying north of Lake Baikal. In this case, the dangerous borders will be moved apart.
- 3.At the same time, it is necessary to intensively develop the north of the Irkutsk region and the entire Amur region, implementing a plan of purposeful “colonization” of these territories.These three measures must be reinforced by strengthening the military presence in the designated zone and by intensifying strategic, economic and technological expansion to the west and east. All this is designed to smooth out the dangerous narrowing of the "Russian belt."
- 4.It is necessary to intensify positional pressure on northeastern China, to take preventive pressure on this area, which would initially prevent any geopolitical incursion of China to northern expansion.
- 5.It is necessary to maximally strengthen the demographic and strategic sector located between the cities of Blagoveshchensk Komsomolsk-on-Amur Khabarovsk in order to create a massive shield here from potential thalassocratic (from the sea) or Chinese (from land) geopolitical aggression.
- 6.It is important to back up all these measures with the maximum activation of Russian-Mongolian relations, since Mongolia, which is barren and less attractive in other respects, is a key and most important territory for the geopolitics of this region. The massive military presence of Russia along the entire Mongolian-Chinese border, and especially in its eastern part, would minimize the geopolitical risk of Lenaland rejection.
Recall that the geopolitics of the North intended to concentrate special efforts in the same sector only from the north, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean. The combination of both geopolitical strategies and their parallel implementation will allow Russia to lay a positional foundation for the distant future, when the importance of these lands will be so obvious that the planetary significance of Eurasia as a whole will depend on their control.
The geopolitical battle for Lenaland should begin now, although widespread attention will be drawn to this region later. But if you do not lay down the correct geopolitical and strategic model initially, resolving the conflict after it begins will be much more difficult, or maybe it will be impossible.
In geopolitics, major battles are won long before they become an open form of political or international conflict.
3.4 The capital of Siberia
The Siberian integration project raises the question of the geographical center of this process, i.e. about the point that could become the authorized representative of Moscow beyond the Urals and fulfill the function of attraction for all other regions. Novosibirsk is most suitable for this role, which is not only the largest city in all of Siberia, but also the most important intellectual center of a national scale.
From Novosibirsk, the western axis goes to Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Urals, and the eastern axis to Irkutsk, then Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. Thus, the most important communication function of the entire “Russian belt of Siberia”, in which it is the main link, falls to Novosibirsk. The Moscow axis Novosibirsk becomes the most important power line of Russia's "internal geopolitics", the main "beam" along which the reciprocal process of exchange of centrifugal energy flows from the Center and centripetal from the periphery is carried out.
It makes sense to close the Ural region with a center in Yekaterinburg to Moscow directly, and not to make an intermediate authority out of it in the communication between the central part of Russia and Siberia. The geopolitical position of Novosibirsk is so important that this city and the regions adjacent to it should have a special status and special powers, since it is from here that secondary geopolitical rays should disperse throughout Siberia to the north, south, east, and west.
It makes sense to make an exception to such secondary centralization only for the Primorsky Territory and the southern sectors of the Khabarovsk Territory. This is a very special area, tightly connected with Lenaland and the positional struggle for control over it. In this regard, a special status should be granted to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, and they should be directly connected with Moscow (like Yekaterinburg).
To interact with the “northern trapeze” it is convenient to organize additional strategic axes Novosibirsk Norilsk and Khabarovsk Magadan. Thus, the East will be strategically linked to the North.
The East, like the North, is a springboard for the geopolitics of the future. Here lies the fate of Eurasia. At the same time, the favorable climate of “Russian Siberia” makes it more prone to start the grandiose project of creating a new continental model from here. Here, new cities should be built and new highways laid, new lands and deposits developed and new military bases created. It is important to initially lay in the project a harmonious combination of the two principles of relief, landscape, ethnocultural factor, finally, ecology, on the one hand, and technical and strategic criteria, on the other. Archaic traditions should be combined with the latest technological developments. We must take into account the places of the most ancient human sites in these lands and correlate the choice for the development of industries and military bases with them.
Such logic leads to an open prospect of the emergence in Siberia of a new center, not yet manifested and conceived. And with the development of the entire Russian East, with the actualization of the Pacific Ocean as the "ocean of the future", it is possible that the question will arise of transferring the capital of all Eurasia to these lands to the unprecedented and still non-existent brilliant capital of the New Millennium.
The time will come when Moscow will lose its “middle” meaning, become insufficient in the geopolitical sense, too “western”. And then the question of the New Capital in Siberia will receive not just a national, but continental, global significance.
However, one cannot forget for a moment that such a prospect is possible only if the positional struggle for Lenaland is won, without which the geopolitical revival of Eurasia is unthinkable.