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Russia’s Iron Bridge & Road Initiative
Albert Goldson Albert Goldson
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Monday, May 9, 2022


Comparative AutocraticMethodologies

Not to be outdone byhis Chinese counterparts, Putin has boldly and brutally undertaken his ownBridge & Road Initiative (BRI), Russian style, with the ultimate objectiveof linking his two annexed “pearls”, Crimea and the Donbas region, andeventually landlocking Ukraine. The warm port cities along Ukrainian south arethe pearls in this critical path along the land-bridge corridor westward with Odesarepresenting the “jewel in the crown”.

China has a soft-powerapproach to developing its BRI albeit through aggressive diplomatic checkbookinitiatives with enticing yet usuary terms & conditions. These contractualagreements enable China to lock in partnerships that consist of heavy exit penaltiessuch as infrastructure forfeitures in case of loan payment defaults. In themeantime it continues to build up its blue navy fleet to support and defendthose interests.

China develops its BRIthrough construction while Russia develops through destruction. Russia intendsto secure Ukrainian southern ports through which 90% of agricultural exportspass through the Black Sea to squeeze political and commercial concessions fromthe west to end the conflict. The difference is the methodology: China’s carrot& stick vs Russia’s hammer & sickle.

During its surge tobecoming a global economic superpower China, has prioritized securing essentialcommodities as part of its long-term security through commercial deals whichare buttressed afterwards by the military.

On the other hand Russia utilized its military to pre-positioningthemselves by targeting Ukraine’s southern region by annexing the Donbas regionto be used as an overland staging area and Crimea as military maritimestronghold and dominance over the Black Sea.

Russia has itsignominious history of developing roads through fire & brimstone mostnotably the 1,250 mile Kolyma highway called the “road of bones” constructedwith gulag labor under Stalin whose construction has resulted in an estimated250,000 deaths with allegations that the fallen slave labor were buried in theroad itself.

Despite their military blunders Russia need notactually physically occupy those pearls in the south rather prevent exporttrade which have already been achieved.

Furthermore, Russia has practicallyeliminated spring planting and summer/fall harvesting of Ukrainian cropsthrough the destruction of farm equipment, limited diesel fuel and thedeliberate mining of agricultural fields, more than enough to literally sowworld chaos with famine-level food shortages globally this summer.

Mafia State, Mafia Tactics

Akin to your localmafia, Putin’s mafia state has the insatiable thirst for only two things: moneyand power but with far more firepower and resources. 

Russia’s militarygambit is the new Cold War Iron Curtain along the southern coast for thepurpose of controlling Russian and Ukrainian food exports from which dozens ofcountries are highly reliant. In the pure mafia spirit, this constitutesgeopolitical resource extortion.

Russia doesn’t have theeconomic wherewithal to outspend the west on arms and R&D. As proven in theongoing campaign in Ukraine, their military is a paper tiger. Instead Russia seeksto level the playing field by controlling the logistical chokepoints and weaponizingessential commodities, specifically energy and agriculture, in their NearAbroad. Control the Ukrainian south and control the world’s food supply.

Although these commodities are fungible the present-day and near-future globalinventories are precariously low. For this reason, controlling a large energyand agricultural market share provides Putin an enviable amount of leverage notonly with the West but with developing countries that they can demand politicalsupport for Russian foreign policies in the international forum in exchange forfood exports.

For Putin this personal crusade of destiny is nothingmore than a “business decision” with the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people andRussian military conscripts for the creation and glory of a Greater Russia.

An Uncomfortable Post-Putin Aftermath

The more frightful possibility is that in apost-Putin world, the new Russian leadership, regardless how “enlightened”they might be to cooperation in the international community, may be slow oreven loathe to withdraw or surrender captured Ukrainian territory. Crimea wouldbe non-negotiable.

Firstly, the post-Putin Russianeeds to justify the deaths of thousands of Russian soldiers to the Russiancitizens by maintaining control over some Ukrainian territory as political andeconomic leverage to ensure a durable internal and external peace.

Secondly, the post-PutinRussia would link a gradual and progressive withdrawal from Ukraine in exchangefor the easing and eventual elimination of sanctions and other western imposedrestrictions.

Regardless the West isunlikely to be forgiving of any new Russian government. As they did with theAxis powers, the west will insist on the “unconditional surrender” of allpre-February 24, 2022 occupied territory or risk the continuation of severeeconomic pressure. For this reason, the territorial unwinding will certainly befraught with tension.


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The Cerulean Council is aNYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarianperspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urbansecurity.

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