Four months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and while the offensive against Kiev had already ended, Vladimir Putin had not given up his grandiosity. On the occasion of a forum of the Strategic Initiatives Agency, on June 20, in Moscow, he announced the arrival of:“a new era in world history”, described as “an alternative to the existing world order, or the unipolar world order in which we have lived”. Drawing on his own trauma of the breakup of the USSR – “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the XXe century “, according to him, the Kremlin chief saw himself as the architect of the restoration of Russia to its vanished status as a power.
This ambition, which is supposed to counterbalance Western hegemony, particularly serves the so-called “Five Seas” system – the White, Baltic, Azov, Black and Caspian Seas. Conceived under Peter the Great (1672-1725) and developed according to Stalin’s five-year plans, this network of canals and waterways connects these five sea basins. Greffé aujourd’hui au projet International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), cet ensemble navigable vise à définir un nouvel ax stratégique reliant l’ancienne capitale tsariste, Saint-Pétersbourg, à la métropole de Bombay en Inde, en résonance avec le fantasme Which Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Russian ultranationalist who died of Covid in April, wanted to put it this way in 1993: “The Russian soldier, tired but satisfied with his great peacekeeping mission, eventually sits down on the far coast of the Indian Ocean to wash his boots”.
With exorbitant human costs (often prisoners of the gulag, death on construction sites), this series of waterways was the pride of the Russian people during the Soviet era. The students were infused with lessons on the teachings of the Five Seas and smoked “Belomorkanal” cigarettes, created in 1932 to commemorate the construction of the canal of the same name, between the White Sea and the Baltic Sea. In this forced industrialization, the Moscow Canal, which was opened to traffic in 1937, connects the capital with the five seas. In the western part, the country now has a unified deep-sea system of 6,500 kilometers long, out of a total of 101,000 kilometers of natural and artificial routes spread across the territory. The decline of river trade and the dilapidated state of facilities, exacerbated by the collapse of the Soviet bloc, seemed to have buried the ambitions of this land-continent to become a maritime power.
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