Where Russia is already beginning to collapse – the Permafrost Zone in the Far North

A building in the center of Yakutsk, Russia (Image: The Siberian Times)

A building in the center of Yakutsk, Russia (Image: The Siberian Times) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The Siberian Times newspaper has called attention to a study showing that the melting of permafrost zone in the northern two-thirds of Russia is already beginning to undermine infrastructure in the northern portions of the country and will lead to “the collapse” of many buildings and pipelines over the next several decades.

The study, prepared by a group of Russian and American scholars, appears in the current issue of The Geographical Review (Vol. 107, no. 1 (January 2017), pp. 125-144, available online). The Russian paper has summarized it and provided pictures of the collapse so far.

The permafrost study examined four Siberian towns and cities: Salekhard, Norilsk, Yakutsk and Anadyr. It concluded that several of them are at risk of collapsing infrastructure within the next decade. (Image: The Siberian Times)

The permafrost study examined four Siberian towns and cities: Salekhard, Norilsk, Yakutsk and Anadyr. It concluded that several of them are at risk of collapsing infrastructure within the next decade. (Image: The Siberian Times)

According to the study which examined four Siberian cities in detail, the paper says, several of them are at risk of collapsing infrastructure within the next decade and that under “a worst-case scenario” there could be “a 75 to 95 percent reduction in bearing capacity throughout the permafrost region by 2050.”

That would have a “devastating” impact not only on the ability of people to live and work in the Russian North but also on efforts to extract oil, gas, and other natural resources from the region or to maintain control over the region and the adjoining Northern Sea Route in which Moscow has placed so much hope.

The scholars examined the situation in Salekhard, Norilsk, Yakutsk, and Anadyr, but argues that their findings in these locations can be extrapolated to others and that they underscore the need to adopt new construction methods, some of them extraordinarily expensive, to prevent infrastructure collapse.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Robert

    Hmm… the Perfect Metaphor! “… infrastructure undermined” … “leading to collapse”…

    Ya sure they’re not speaking of the ‘social fabric’, Society, Economic and “military” aspects of Russia? … Surely it fits! I love this quote:

    ‘a “devastating” impact not only on the ability of people to live and work in the Russia’ … I’m sure it’s a CIA ‘plot’ instigated by “enemies of the state”… Even Mother Earth is ‘against’ Russia! … must be an “EarthMaidan” in Russia!

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Dwarfstan already has two permanent warm-water ports: Murmansk and Vladivostok, though in the case of Vladivostok not much longer. Primorskii, Transbaikal and other regions in Siberia are already being peacefully invaded by Chinese immigrants (legal and otherwise), and within a decade Peking will have total control and annex them.
      And there’s nothing the dwarf can do to stop the rot.

      • Oknemfrod

        >And there’s nothing the dwarf can do to stop the rot.<

        Not a thing, indeed, for he's the source of it, akin to a cancer being the source of metastases. And just like with the cancer, once initiated, the spread of the metastases cannot be stopped even after their source is excised.

      • Robert

        Hmm. Interesting. Thanks for the education. Why is it I often hear of this (lack of permanent warm-water ports) in Russia? Are they incapable of handling military vessels?

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Both Murmansk and Vladivostok are large naval bases as well as having a civilian port. Both are located in extremities- Murmansk in the Far North near the borders with Finland and Norway, and Vladivostok near China at the end of the Transsiberian Railway.
          The Tsars wanted control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles but never achieved that. The dwarf would no doubt like that as well, but being weaker than the Tsars and potentially facing a Turkish army that is as large as his own and more importantly more modern his chances are zilch as well.

          • Quartermaster

            The Turkish Army is about equal in technology to Russia’s.

          • laker48

            And has a high morale, what cannot be said about the RuSSian conscript army.

      • laker48
        • Dagwood Bumstead

          When the UN General Assembly condemned Dwarfstan’s illegal invasion and occupation of the Crimea in 2014, China abstained. Why? Because it wants to have its hands free to so the same in Primorskii, Transbaikal and other areas of Dwarfstan’s Far East. It’s no longer a matter of IF, but WHEN Peking will send its “little gleen men” and hold a “lefelendum”. Anybody want to bet on the result of the “lefelendum”?
          And at the same time Dai-Nippon will take back the Kuriles and Sakhalin, stolen by Stalin in 1945.

      • Turtler

        A fair point, though honestly I doubt it will be as short as a decade. (I’ve been wrong before and it definitely is possible, but I doubt it). The Chinese are overwhelming but they aren’t moving in that furiously, and the “warm band” in the South is pretty heavily Russian and Central Asian, and neither they nor the indigenous have much reason to welcome the overlordship of history’s bloodiest dictatoship.

        The Kremlin’s scum, but it is fairly distant scum.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          It’s not only a matter of Chinese moving IN, but also of Dwarfstanians moving OUT to the European part of the country in search of better opportunities. It’s no coincidence that the dwarf sent Donbas refugees to the Far East with a free one-way ticket, see (German language):

          http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/europa/fluechtlinge-aus-der-ostukraine-kostenlos-nach-sibirien-13144521.html

          Within 10 years Dwarfstan will be so weak that it won’t be able to resist any demands Peking makes. Its only alternative will be the use of nukes, but that’s not a good idea when dealing with another nuclear power.

          • Turtler

            A good point on the former. And another sobering fact that Putin’s going back to form with the usual shipments of “expendable” people to colonize the East.

            “Within 10 years Dwarfstan will be so weak that it won’t be able to
            resist any demands Peking makes.”

            With the full force of its’ military or diplomatic power, perhaps. But the problem is- as we’ve seen in negotiations between the roaring Dragon and the paraplegic bear, there are other factors that limit the amount of leverage the Chinese can exert on the Russians at any given point. Not the least of which because the PRC has bigger fish to fry and kind of wants Putin on their side in the more lucrative conflicts in the South China Sea.

            Doesn’t mean they won’t eventually gain Siberia or that it might not be in that short a time, but Putin has some chips to play on the way to the door.

      • Rafael Hernandez

        If it reaches 60 percent ethnic chinese and the land was illegaly given by a Ukrainain leader, then yes

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN Chinese will be the majority in Transbaikal and Primorskii.
          And check your history books- REAL history books that is, not the drivel that passes as history in Dwarfstan. Stalin, Pedo Putolini’s Great Hero and Shining Example, had already decided to transfer the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR, though it was only carried out in January 1954 because of his death in March 1953. And if you are so ignorant that you don’t even know that Georgi Malenkov (Russian, by the way, just as Khrushchev was) was Boss in the USSR after Stalin’s death then you require a LOT of education. Furthermore, the transfer was carried out according to the laws of the USSR, with Voroshilov (yet another Russian) signing the decree concerning the transfer as Head of State on 19/2/1954.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Nope The transfer of Crimea from Russian ssr to Ukrainian ssr was completely illegal, and was Russian land for over 200 years before 1954. Especially after Maidan the crimeans didn’t want Waltzman and Yats the spy as their leaders. Instead they wanted a referendum, in which over 90 percent voted to join Russia. That is democracy

          • zorbatheturk

            This is krembotulism AKA Savushkina snot.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Your arithmetic is out, but that’s no surprise given Dwarfstan’s “education” system. Catherine II stole the Crimea from the Ottoman Empire in 1783, and Malenkov transferred it to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, which makes 171 years at best. Prior to that it was part of the Ottoman empire for over 350 years so Turkey, as successor state to the Ottoman empire, has far more historic rights to the Crimea than Dwarfstan does.
            As for your pathetic “referendum”, even Igor Girkin admitted on Dwarfstanian TV in January 2015 that it was a farce.

      • veth

        And NovoRossian on the Black Sea………….

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          Dwarfstan has Novorossiisk as ice-free Black Sea port (and Sevastopol temporarily, though given its transport problems its usefulness is limited) but its access to the rest of the world is controlled by Turkey, and easily cut off as WW1 demonstrated. Tuapse is a minor port and only used for oil shipments.

    • Turtler

      “Even Mother Nature is ‘against’ Russia!”

      Of course she is. Russia’s government treated her like dirt. They deforested entire regions, dumped toxic sludge everywhere, and were even stupid enough to bury nuclear waste in unsecured barrels.

      This is just payback.

    • RedSquareMaidan

      The ruSSia needs new construction methods?
      That Lada technology isn’t working for them again? Putin is not capable of construction. ..only destruction.

  • zorbatheturk

    Freeze Putin permanently.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      What, dump him somewhere in the Arctic????? That’s POLLUTION!!!!!

      • zorbatheturk

        Put him on display in a glass fronted freezer and charge admission to see him.

  • Oknemfrod

    It evokes the memories of the fate of Stalin’s “Railroad of Death”:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salekhard%E2%80%93Igarka_Railway

    Basically, it failed for the same reason: They tried to build it atop the permafrost, plus of course the typical Russian “engineering”, “logistics”, and the nature of slave labor contributing to the failure.

    They were mulling a project to resurrect this dead mammoth throughout the 2000’s, but I suspect that now that they’re strapped for cash, it’s in the same place where their plan to have the Moon settled by 2015 is.

    However, it’s sure as I’m standing here that history teaches them nothing, so now they’ve been “building” the Kerch bridge instead. Only this time it’s even worse: Instead of the melting permafrost, they have the stormy and intermittently freezing and thawing Sea of Azov, whose bed is covered with 60 meters of silt sporadically erupting mud volcanoes amid tectonic shifts.

    The only “advantage” they’ve got this time is the ability of the Kremlin dwarf’s pals in charge of the project to pilfer billions by “sawing up the budget” and move the moolah off shore – something that in the Stalin’s time would make such a project director into one of those who laid rail at -50 degrees in winter and were eaten alive by mosquitoes, gnats, midge, punkies, noseeums, gadflies, horse flies, and what not in summer.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Given the labour shortages for the dwarf’s pet projects e.g. Kerch bridge and the railway bypassing Luhansk oblast, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the dwarf decides to use Dwarfstan’s prison population as slave labour to plug the gaps. Nor would it surprise me if those that had fallen out of the dwarf’s favour eventually were to join the slave gangs.

      • Oknemfrod

        if you haven’t heard that such ideas have already been circulated in the Kremlin circles, you must be a seer.

        • Quartermaster

          It’s predictable. Russia has been using slave labor for such things since Peter the Great.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          A seer, Moi??? No. But the dwarf is a great admirer of Stalin and is increasingly using his hero’s methods. So it’s quite logical that sooner or later slave labour will become part and parcel of Dwarfstan again. Mass arrests and executions will surely follow. The dwarf can probably easily find thugs willing to become the new Mikhail Blokhin.

          • Oknemfrod

            Agreed. Judging from the psychotic types like Motorola who’ve emerged in Donbas and put their goolish sadistic proclivities on full display there, he has no shortage of candidates capable of dwarfing even Blokhin (whose name, peculiarly, comes from “a flea”).

  • Turtler

    To be honest, I doubt that will be where it starts. The collapse in Russia has already begun, and it started with the demographics. When you have the Russians males drinking themselves to death, offing themselves, and getting offed in Putin’s bloodbaths or by their senior conscripts to the point where they’re going to half, the manpower poverty’s what will lead to everything else.

    The collapse of infrastructure in the Permafrost zones will probably owe more to the lack of Russians there and Russia’s shoddy approach to infrastructure as a whole. (As shown in this gorgeous and utterly damning article here: http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/10/13/russia/ )

    And on another note, this off the cuff article makes me more inclined to believe in AGW being drastic in the Northern Hemisphere than all the hockey sticks put together.

    • Oknemfrod

      Thanks for the link to the NY article. It’s frightful to read, but it’s much more frightful to see, and it sounds like it was much worse in 2012 (when the article was penned) than it was many years ago when I was hitchhiking in a company of adventurous, wide-eyed young pals from K to M to St.P. The rot had already been underway, and its signs were evident, particularly by the way of countryside contrast between U and R. Now, over the years of further neglect, it’s on the verge of completing its job towards total collapse and desolation.

      Obviously, it’s much more important for the powers that be to build more nukes, the Kerch “bridge”, and host the world soccer cup, not to mention to grab neighboring lands and turn them into another desert – the job the Russian state is most skilled at.