Welcome to “Towards the Great Ocean”

The main objective of “Towards the Great Ocean” is to offer commentary and original analysis on the development of the Russian Far East, to develop my academic research on the region, and to establish a dedicated outlet for a part of Russia which receives relatively scant attention in the English-speaking world.

With the continued economic rise of a number of Asian countries, and a massive drop in relations between Russia and the West, Russia has once again cast its eye east and earmarked huge sums of money to develop its eastern territory, a program which has been described by the Russian government as a national priority for the rest of the century.

Much of the development is based on exploiting the region’s vast energy and mineral resources, and a highly ambitious level of foreign investment is sought to go along with funds earmarked from the federal budget. My research aims to look beyond the headline goals of the project and examine how the targets and ambitions of the federal government match up to the realities and perceptions on the ground.

For those who don’t recognise the phrase used as the title of this blog, it comes from the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway at the end of the 19th century, with a call to expand Russian presence and power all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Given the rhetoric around the contemporary development of the region, it’s a timeless representation of long-term Russian desires and frustrations in the east.

I’ll be visiting Russia for the second time during May and June, taking in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Yakutsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok and Sakhalin. My time in the country will be limited on this occasion, but whilst I’m there I aim to find out more about local thoughts on the development of the Russian Far East and share my findings through this blog.

All comments, discussion and feedback is welcome, with the usual caveats on not being a troll.