Demographics Undermining Russia’s Position in Asia

Demographics Undermining Russia’s Position in Asia

MOSCOW -- On Dec. 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Security Council in Moscow dedicated to addressing the social and economic problems of the Russian Far East. In Putin's assessment, the situation in the region, which borders China, had become so grave as to constitute a threat to the country's national security.

According to a transcript on the Kremlin website, Putin declared in his opening remarks that past government action had failed to overcome the Far East's grave problems. These include the district's declining Russian population and its imbalanced economic activities. Putin also warned that the region's failure to develop effective economic, information, and transportation networks had isolated it both from the rest of Russia and from East Asian integration processes. "All these factors pose a grave threat to our political and economic positions in Asia and the Pacific, and, without any exaggeration, to the national security of Russia as a whole," the president concluded.

To address this situation, Putin instructed both federal and regional authorities to draft a comprehensive program of action to develop the district's energy industry, public utilities and transportation, logistics, and telecommunications infrastructure. Rather than transfer additional federal budgetary resources to the Russian Far East, Putin urged national and local officials to pursue public-private partnerships, special economic zones, innovative tariff and tax policies, and other creative development mechanisms.

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