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.