ISSN 2330-717X

Bringing Russia’s Housing Stock Up To Standards Would Cost $55 Billion – OpEd

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Sixty percent of the housing stock in Russia is substandard, and bringing it up to current norms would cost some 55 billion US dollars, an enormous sum that the Russian government shows no sign of being willing to commit itself to spending, Anatoly Ursida says. And that is only one of the parts of the country’s infrastructure where that is true. 

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The specialist on investment patterns in Russia says that the failure of the authorities to invest in infrastructure is something for which Russians are paying a high price and that where the regime does put its money shows its intentions (alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/97352-rossiyskaya-infrastruktura-plany-uspehi-i-bolshie-problemy).

In addition to considering the gap between needs and plans for housing stock, Ursida considers similar gaps in funding for the country’s railways, airports, ports, and pipelines. In all cases, Moscow has made bold announcements but not followed them up with funding and in many cases has created unfunded liabilities for local governments and even businesses.

As a result, he says, there is little reason to believe that the situation is about to get better in any of these areas. And he points to particular bottlenecks such as the current plan to build a lot of new airports for moving cargo but to do little for improving airports that carry people from one place to another.

To meet the acknowledged needs in just the infrastructure areas he surveyed, Ursida says, the Russian government would have to spend more than 220 billion US dollars over the next decade, money it does not have and does not plan to spend in any event whatever declarations it makes.

And that has another consequence which countries around the Russian Federation should take note of: Moscow does not have the money to provide them with assistance in this area, however often the Russian authorities claim otherwise. It could not even provide a billion US dollars to them collectively even if it wanted to without a radical change in course.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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