Shoigu’s cities: a key factor

MOSCOW, 23 Sep 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

The idea of creating new cities in Siberia as drivers of infrastructure development and economic growth, put forward by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, did not leave anyone indifferent.

The Russian expert community is clearly divided into two camps. Some experts strongly justify the unrealisability of this idea, like saying: it is difficult, expensive and there is no money. Others point out that without a strategic turn to the East, in the conditions of the long-term Western sanctions and the economic pupation of the West into its closed cluster, there is nothing at all for us there.

We are closer to the second position. As Vladimir Putin said very well about this recently – “Yes, there is no money, but if to do nothing, there will be no money.” Moreover, as experts show, there is money for the development of Siberia. Therefore, it is necessary to build cities, and to develop Siberia at an accelerated pace, too.

Here is what I would like to pay special attention to in this regard. The detail is small, but very important.

In order for new cities in Siberia to take root, to be like how St. Petersburg or Moscow have lived for centuries, so that people love them, a special urban planning policy should be carried out in them. Why is the imperial style of St. Petersburg majestic? Or why does Stalin’s empire style conquer so much the hearts of people? Because it’s imperial. Because it’s a majestic style. For centuries. That is, a city, in order to become a city, must have special houses. Houses built in a special style.

In St. Petersburg, they were able to do this in the 18th and 19th century. Stalin was able to do it in Moscow and in a completely destroyed Minsk and Kiev. It is necessary to realise and feel the imperialness of Russia at a qualitatively new level in the 21st century and embody it in the new cities of Siberia. Perhaps these will be buildings in the spirit of classicism. Perhaps there will be new forms embodied in metal and glass. The main thing is that they have the necessary imperial energy and the Russian spirit.

To some, the last argument will seem ridiculous, but we should not forget that nearby is China, whose entire architecture is permeated with the Chinese spirit. And if we will build shapeless Soviet boxes in the new cities of Siberia, then the wonderful and necessary idea for the Russian state will initially be doomed to failure.

In addition, it is necessary that in the new cities of Siberia, one principle is observed – the houses are the same. All houses should be different. Yes, it’s expensive. But it is precisely this that will ensure these cities in two or three centuries the spirit that St. Petersburg and Moscow are proud of.

If we think about it, what factors then can contribute to moving to Siberia? Nature? Yes. Small compact cities, where you can build a dacha next to your apartment or immediately live in your house near your  workplace? Yes. Mushrooms, pickles, jam, fishing, hunting, outdoor recreation? Yes.

But at the same time, this is also remoteness – it is far and expensive to go to the centre of the country or to resorts. Therefore, it is necessary to build several cities and not far from each other (no more than 1,000 km, and preferably up to 500-700 km), so that people can simply quickly move somewhere if they get bored.

Therefore, there must be powerful factors for securing people on the ground. And the beauty of the city, its uniqueness and originality in these conditions will be a key and determining factor. Why do our people like to go to Europe, to Riga or St. Petersburg? For the beauty and comfort of cities, first and foremost.

Therefore, our new cities in Siberia should be as a picture. So that any guest – our compatriot or a foreigner who will come there to stay, will post photos of our new cities and those natural views that are simply fantastic there, on their social networks and send them to their family and friends, and admire them. Then Siberia will live a completely different life and will become the same developed region of the world as the European part of Russia.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT


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