A very interesting article by Newsweek, titled “The Separatist Threat to Putin’s Mother Russia From the East”, July 2015, about the relations between Moscow and Siberia. Siberia is a Russian territory that extends from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. See first map.
According to Newsweek the Siberians feel neglected, and they believe that Moscow does not really care about a region that is so rich in resources. In 2012 Siberia contributed 130 billion rubbles to the Russian tax revenues, but during the same period the Russian state only invested 10 billion rubbles in Siberia. Siberia constitutes 77% of the Russian land, but only 40 from the 140 million of the Russian population leaves in Siberia. As early as 1892 the Siberians raised the issue of autonomy, saying that Russia has treated Siberia as a colony.
According to Newsweek the Siberians are very disappointed with Putin’s increasingly centralized policies that remove power from the Siberians towards Moscow. In 2011 a pro-Siberian rally was organized in Siberia asking for Siberia’s autonomy, and the slogan was “Stop Feeding Moscow”. The Siberian youth increasingly use the expression “I am Siberian”. In August 2014 a pro-Siberian demonstration was organized, but it was banned by the Russian government and many from the organizers were arrested.
I must also add that Siberia is very rich in oil and natural gas. As you can see at the following map from an article of the Energy Information Administration, titled “Russia looks beyond West Siberia for future oil and natural gas growth”, September 2014, West Siberia holds 62% of the Russian oil reserves, East Siberia holds 6%, and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in East Siberia hold another 4% of the Russian oil reserves. Please note that Russia and Japan argue about their exclusive economic zones in the Pacific Ocean. Moreover West Siberia holds 89% of the Russian natural gas reserves, East Siberia holds 1% and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in East Siberia hold another 4% of the Russian natural gas reserves as you can see at the EIA map. See map 2.
One could imagine that an independent Siberia would be good for the European and American interests, but this is not true at all. An independent Siberia would be in very bad terms with Russia and the Russian oil and natural gas would be blocked from reaching Europe. Under this unlikely scenario China would emerge as Siberia’s patron. The Europeans and the Americans are far away from Siberia. Also note that the two natural gas pipelines that were agreed between the Russians and the Chinese in 2014, the Altai Pipeline and the Power of Siberia Pipeline, would use natural gas from West and East Siberia. See picture 3
It might sound strange but the American, the European and the Russian interests are closely aligned. The Americans were hoping that Russia would become a democratic country which would supply Europe with oil and natural gas, in order to decrease Europe’s dependence in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea. Moreover Russia could protect Europe so that the Americans could concentrate on their main geopolitical rival i.e. China.
But Russia would need to be second in the hierarchy, because Russia was never a democratic country. If at some point Russia becomes a democracy, like the other countries of the European Union, then she could become the number one in Europe. But until Russia can prove that she has been transformed to a democracy, she has to accept American leadership. Because there is simply no other way that things can be done.
Unfortunately Putin is taking Russia back where she was under the communism. Except that Putin is using a national socialist model instead of a communist one, because he needs to use Slavism and Christianity in order to push the Russian energy policy in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The Russian communists banned religion because at the time Russia had the rich in oil and natural gas countries of Central Asia under her control i.e. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.
These countries are Muslim countries and the Russian communists banned religion so that the Arabs, the Turks and the Iranians could not use Islam to exert influence over their populations. But now Russia dos not have these countries, and Putin needs Slavism and Christianity to promote his policies in East Europe and the Balkans.
For the Newsweek article see