Something you may not realise about Russia

Construction of a brand new 1,300 mile road between the two cities was recently completed almost five decades after construction first begun meaning it is now theoretically possible to drive across Russia on a continuous joined up network of roads.

Dressed in a casual polo shirt and wearing sunglasses, Mr Putin said he was keen to test the new road which he hailed as a \”historic\” moment in Russia\’s history. \”Our country, the largest in the world, has never in its history – never – been completely joined up by highways. Finally we have done it,\” he said.

They don\’t actually have a road network that covers the country. And as that story shows, it\’s not just little villages left off it either. There was no east west road, from Vladivostock to Moscow for example.

To be honest, I\’m not sure if it\’s still true now but certainly in the 1990s there were huge towns that didn\’t have land connections to anywhere. Norilsk for example, 300,000 people, and no land link at all. No road, no rail.

You could fly in or out, there was a rail line to the river and after the spring thaw (late June up there) there would be boats out over the sea to Murmansk or up the river inland to where the Trans-Siberian crossed the country.

And this sort of isolation was not unusual: there would be cars and roads inside these cities, but they were islands: go too far outside the cities and the road networks simply stopped.

What we would consider to be basic infrastucture in many places just doesn\’t exist.

4 thoughts on “Something you may not realise about Russia”

  1. I think the Telegraph item is a bit exaggerated – there has been a continuous road connection from Moscow to Vladivostok for a while. It’s just that in some places, the road hasn’t been in very good condition. Perhaps they have now built a paved road throughout the route between Khabarovsk and Chita, as well as between Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk.

    Someone made a pledge to drive a Renault Megane from Moscow to Vladivostok and back in two weeks in 2009. I think he didn’t quite make it, it took 8 days east and 8 days back, but he got through all right, without any major damage to the car. Unfortunately I can’t find the blog now.

    It’s quite natural that some places in Russia are practically islands. On a map you may see land; in nature, you’ll see swamps and quagmires where it’s not very practical to build roads. In effect, you need to built continuous bridges. And there is just not enough traffic to justify the cost and effort of building a road.

  2. The most remarkable “There is no road where you think there would be” situation to me is the Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia. Unlike the former situation in Russia, there is no railway either. There is thus no way to travel from North America to South America without using a boat or plane.

  3. I usually find that where there is a road on a map of Russia, what is often on the ground can barely be called a road. It’s getting better though, although there are places like Magadan which are only accessible in winter (and in summer you need a Kamaz if it’s raining).

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