A Bridge Too Far

The construction of Temporary Bridge No.2 between Tuzla and the navigable part of the Strait of Kerch, at the construction site of a road-and-rail bridge which is to link Crimea to mainland Russia. Source: Sergei Bobylev/TASS

A Bridge to Who Knows Where?

The prospects for Russia’s new bridge from the mainland to Crimea are unclear. In order to pay for the grand connecting link, Russia will have to forego much-needed bridge construction and repair elsewhere in the country. Russia is already desperately in arrears with regards to its massive bridge-building obligations.

The grand new bridge to Crimea represents what may turn out to be the straw that breaks the bear’s back.

The contract went to companies belonging to billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a close Putin friend. Rotenberg was a prime developer of the Sochi Olympics, which ran into billions of dollars in cost overruns. __ NPR

The engineering problems already besetting the Crimea bridge project are symbolic of the general corruption and ineptitude that threatens the future of virtually all of Russia’s bridges and the rest of its mostly Soviet-era infrastructure — and the very society it supports.

A report by the Institute of Transport Economics and Transport Policy at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow has compared the structure of road networks in different countries. Canada, China, Germany and the United States have neat grid-like patterns, with transport links established between all states, provinces and territories, while Russia has a radial structure, with all roads leading in the direction of Moscow, where they run into a traffic jam on the ring road around the capital.

The most expensive and important piece of road infrastructure is bridges – and Russia has more serious problems with them than with roads in general.

__ Russia’s Desperate Bridges

Happy Times in Russia Source

Happy Times in Russia
Source

Russia’s Economy Began Failing in Early 2012 and has Gotten Appreciably Worse Since

In 2012 investment stopped growing. In 2014 investment started to decline. That’s the main reason why Russia’s economy is contracting.

__ Why Russia’s Economy is Failing

The Kremlin is desperate to finance pet projects, and as a result bridges collapse, residential buildings explode and collapse, roads degenerate to potholes and rubble, and schools and hospitals become shadows of their former selves.

For over 2 years now, the Kremlin has been stealing funds from its infrastructure reserves in order to pay for higher priority budget items — including saving banks from failure, financing extravagant sports events, building bombs to destroy hospitals in Syria, to make mischief in Moldova/Ukraine/Georgia etc., and funneling cash into the accounts of Kremlin insiders.

Russia’s Power Grid Held Together by Spit and Grit

the strange, retro world of the Russian power grid. Operating without much new investment since the heyday of the Soviet Union, it is showing its age. Experts who study and have worked on the Russian power system describe it as congested, undersized, monstrously inefficient, slow to repair and in need of $750 billion of investment in the next two decades.

“Russia’s centralized energy system, once the basis of the country’s energy security and — thanks to economies of scale — a guarantee of cheap electricity, is in the midst of a deep strategic crisis,” Olga Prokofyeva, a board member of the Energy Group, an energy consultancy in St. Petersburg, said in an email.

Just where the money will come from has never been more uncertain. The Russian economy is teetering on recession ___ http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060010742

[+] Russia’s electric grid relies on many power plants that are, by U.S. standards, well beyond retirement age. Graphic courtesy of IHS. Source

[+] Russia’s electric grid relies on many power plants that are, by U.S. standards, well beyond retirement age. Graphic courtesy of IHS.
Source

Other critical infrastructural systems in deadly need of upgrade besides highways, bridges, power grids, residential buildings, etc. include health care, education, energy pipelines, and the rapidly decaying river transport system. Compared to the Russian infrastructure crisis, the much ballyhooed US “infrastructure crisis” is a phantom menace.

Ethnic Russian Demographics on One-Way Trip to Hell

It is impossible to obtain reliable demographic statistics from the Russian state, but using the best numbers available it is clear that the ethnic Russian population is sinking fast. Contrary to the “happy happy news stories” from true believers such as Mark Adomanis, Russia’s key population group — its “ethnic Russians” — is being replaced across the empire from the outside in. (see link above for details and graphics)

The ultra-precarious position occupied by Russia Today is largely papered over and ignored by the mainstream skankstream. Aided by a weak US president, a weak EU, and a China that is willing to play along for now, Putin has been allowed to project a Potemkin image of Russia far out of proportion to its actual might, ability, and influence.

 A perfect symbol of Chinese-Russian cooperation is provided by a half-built bridge between the two countries. As a picture of the site shows, China has finished its half of the bridge, but the Russians have done nothing but create a tent city on the Russian side of the border (zloy-odessit.livejournal.com/1834438.html). via

A perfect symbol of Chinese-Russian cooperation is provided by a half-built bridge between the two countries. As a picture of the site shows, China has finished its half of the bridge, but the Russians have done nothing but create a tent city on the Russian side of the border (zloy-odessit.livejournal.com/1834438.html).
via


The half-built bridge pictured above barely hints at the silly pretence that modern Russia has become.

Russia’s Decapitation Hazard

Moscow is the central city of the entire Russian empire. Besides representing a huge bottleneck to national transportation, it also presents a command and control chokehold which China is likely to exploit and which modern Russia can in no way solve. Everything in Russia must come into and go out of Moscow. This represents a “decapitation hazard” which few other modern powers face.

Russia needs massive critical reforms to attract the level of investment it needs. But Russia is ruled by an ageing dictator who clearly feels threatened by the needed reforms. Why is that obvious? Because Putin has been promising these reforms for over 15 years and not once has he made serious strides to implement. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So Russia will continue to focus on doing mischief in other lands, investing just enough in its military production to keep the corrupt military-industrial complex running — and to maintain the Potemkin facade it presents to the world. Only China appears to see through this charade, and the dragon is biding its time until it is time to act against the already-dying bear.

More on dangers of blowback from next-door war

Mortality among ethnic Russians rising due to overall ageing of population AND due to Putin cutbacks in health care system

Deathmatch: Putin vs. Putin

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