RUSI NewsbriefVOLUME 39ISSUE 6members only

‘Rasputitsa’: Why Railways and Roads are Russia’s Achilles’ Heel

Main Image Credit Moscow’s Rizhskaya railway station in winter. Courtesy of Yury and Tanya/

Ageing railways, poor-quality roads and an inadequate response by the authorities to calls for basic services are the weak underbelly of the Russian infrastructure system.

The Russian language has a specific word to describe the conditions of roads during particularly adverse weather. Rasputitsa usually describes heavy snow or mud, which makes traversing these roads almost impossible. That such a word exists, to illustrate the difficulties in getting around this vast country, highlights the continued importance of basic infrastructure, such as roads and railways, in Russian thinking. Russia remains highly reliant on roads and railways t

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Emily Ferris

Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia

International Security Studies

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