The Baltic Region

2020 Vol. 12 №3

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The strongholds of Russian coastal borderlands: economic dynamics amid geopolitical turbulence



In the 21st century, the World Ocean is becoming a key factor in global socio-economic dynamics and a geoeconomic and geopolitical priority of many countries. The Russian Federation, whose economy, infrastructure, and settlement system have been gravitating towards the sea since the late 1990s, is no exception. This article aims to identify and provide a conceptual framework for the phenomenon of Russia’s coastal borderlands and their constituent ‘strongholds’. It also explores the factors and features of the economic dynamics of the coastal borderlands amid the post-2014 geopolitical turbulence. Economic and statistical methods are used to highlight the irregularity of the economic and settlement patterns across Russia’s coastal borderlands, in their water and land areas. It is shown that Russian economic and military activities have clustered there to create 14 ‘strongholds’, including two emerging ones. The current confrontation between Russia and the West is accompanied by the country’s growing maritime presence, particularly in its western borderlands, the revitalisation and expansion of its ‘strongholds’, and economic diversification. The economic systems of the country’s leading coastal region have proven to be highly resistant to geopolitical turbulence; this is partly explained by government support.