Russia Planning To Restructure, Urbanize And Interconnect Its Provinces & Regions

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National unification of poorer regions with wealthier ones will help combine infrastructure resources  

A draft of Russia’s Frontal Strategy for the Development of the Country, which is being developed under Marat Khusnullin, the current Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Construction and Regional Development, plans for the unification of several regions, and provinces (states) of Russia. Known as “The agglomeration principle” the aim is to better organize the distribution of development capital and improve inter-regional infrastructure co-ordination.

Khusnullin has stated in the plan that “Megacities should develop first.” since the greatest growth points are concentrated there. This analysis is based on his experience as an official in the Moscow mayor’s office, where he was involved in urban planning policy. Multiple regions of Russia have different state governments than important regional cities, such as Moscow and the Moscow Region and St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region among many others. This has created divisions and disagreements in planning and development policy. We can outline some of these new conglomerations as follows:


The metropolitan area proposed to unite Moscow and the Moscow Region would be the largest in terms of population and wealth with a combined population of 17 million people. Of these, about 5% travel from the Moscow region to work in the capital every day. Some of them use the Moscow Central Diameters (MCAD), road network, launched in 2019, a Moscow regional circular ring road system which connects regional towns and smaller cities with the center of Moscow; others use private or public transport. However, inefficient planning between Moscow City and the Moscow Region has resulted in huge traffic jams and lengthy delays for vehicles getting into Moscow city. On occasions – as anyone who lives in Moscow knows – these can last for hours.

A new Central Ring Road (TsKAD, passes through the region and is currently under construction, while the boundaries between Moscow and the Moscow region are blurred: it operates as a single macroregion, but with different governing bodies. The plan aims to streamline all this into one governing structure.


A new St. Petersburg would include the city and the surrounding Leningrad region with a population of over 6 million. Commuter movement and population increases will develop due to the development of an urban electric train and ring road network (similar to Moscow’s MCAD). Governor Alexander Beglov said at SPIEF-2021 that the construction of a high-speed railroad will also allow the Novgorod Region to access the city, bringing the pressures of another 600,000 residents.


Part of the Adygea region would become under the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, with a combined population of 2.7 million people.


A new proposed Kazan will unite two regions – Tatarstan and part of the Republic of Mari El (the cities of Volzhsk and Zvenigovo) will a population of about 1.6 million.

Khabarovsk & China Connectivity

Khusnullin has previously said that subsidized regions such as the Jewish Autonomous and Kurgan regions which border with China, should be absorbed by the economically stronger Khabarovsk region, which apart from a smaller section to the east, is not, despite being a manufacturing and trade powerhouse and can afford to better develop and pay for improved cross-border Russia-China trade connectivity.

That met with resistance, with the head of the Jewish Autonomous Region Rostislav Goldstein replying that the decision should be made by residents, not officials.

The overall political view in Russia is that whatever Deputy Prime Minister Khusnullin insists on will happen, will happen. Some tout him as a successor to Vladimir Putin, however these plans will face huge opposition – both at a regional political level as some officials lose power, and at a residential level where people are resistant to changes in their identity. Some will see it as a power grab by the Kremlin and a reversion to a centralized planning system as was the case during the Soviet era.

Other Regions

On the plus side, there would be practical benefits, such as the easier planning and development of unified transport systems, a common labor market, urban planning policy and social infrastructure. It will also lead to the end of the so-called “Matryoshka (Russian doll within a doll) regions” – such as the Nenets Autonomous District and the Arkhangelsk Region; Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and Tyumen Region; Krasnodar Territory and the Republic of Adygea. The question is how to unite budgets, how to integrate regions and their economies into each other.

The Frontal Development Strategy of the country provides for the emergence of 41 new regions by 2030, including Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Kaliningrad, Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Novosibirsk, and other regions.

Deputy Prime Minister Khusnullin is promoting the idea of ​​developing the country according to the agglomeration principle, as is the Moscow Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, another potential Putin successor. Speaking at SPIEF-2021, Sobyanin said that the economy, technology, investment, and education are developing most dynamically where there is “greater population density and concentration”. He is also building a powerful team of people around him to push this plan through.

Maxim Reshetnikov, the Russian Economic Minister is also supportive, saying that “Agglomerations, having invested in large infrastructure projects, will begin to generate much more federal taxes. Thus, we will replenish the federal treasury. The money pie will become larger, and it will be possible to divide it between the rest of the regions with the help of inter-budgetary relations.”

It will also urbanize Russia, with Yekaterina Shcherbakova, senior researcher at the Center for Demographic Research at the Higher School of Economics (HSE), stating that the creation of agglomerations and the subsequent enlargement of regions “will intensify the tendency of depopulation” – residents of remote areas of the country will move to regions participating in agglomerations.

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