Russia fact of the day

by on November 14, 2014 at 7:06 am in Books, History, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Over the more than four centuries from the time of Ivan the Terrible, Russia expanded an average of fifty square miles per day.

That is from the extraordinary new Stephen Kotkin biography of Stalin, titled Stalin.  The first volume of 949 pp. brings the reader up only until 1928.  A lot still happened after that.

1 Steve Sailer November 14, 2014 at 7:27 am

At some point in history, the Romanov foreign ministry pitched in to help celebrate some Imperial anniversary. They sent a memo to the Czar saying: To commemorate this occasion, we searched through the archives and discovered that out of our last 40 wars, we’re proud to say that Russia started 38 of them!

2 RoyL November 14, 2014 at 7:39 am

Kissenger loved that one, though in the days of the Soviet Union the number was larger.

But you could have said practically the same thing about Poland in 1770 if you moved the start date back back 150 years.

And nobody can beat the US, since the time of Ivan IV how much have we expanded?

3 Adrian Ratnapala November 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

In absolute numbers, much less than Russia, since your west ain’t Siberia.

4 Art Deco November 14, 2014 at 6:08 pm

And nobody can beat the US, since the time of Ivan IV how much have we expanded?

Our territory is half that of Russia’s. Notable additions since 1848 are Alaska (purchased, and only very lightly populated with aboriginals), the Philippines (not intended as a permanent acquisition, relinquished 39 years after conquest), the Canal Zone (our artifact, now relinquished), and eight sets of insular territories (total land area less than that of Estonia, total population less than that of Hong Kong, some relinquished, separatist sentiment in others nil).

5 chuck martel November 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Alaska itself was “purchased” from the Russians, if it’s indeed possible to purchase something from someone that doesn’t actually own it. Hawaii was “annexed”, an actual bloodless conquest of an independent constitutional monarchy. Of course, there was no one to purchase the US share of the Antarctic continent from so it was simply squatted upon. The US claims sovereignty over millions of square miles of sea bed and air space as well.

6 Art Deco November 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Every country claims territorial waters. The U.S. has no territorial claims to Antarctica; other countries have had such claims in the past; we did not. There are some small American research stations there, as a raft of other countries have. Russia had some small colonies in Alaska. We paid them and they dropped their claim of sovereignty. It’s called ‘international politics’. Sorry it bothers you. Queen Liliuokalani was deposed five years before Hawaii was annexed by the United States; about a quarter of the population was polynesian at that time.

7 chuck martel November 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm

“about a quarter of the population was polynesian at that time.”

Evidently you wouldn’t be too bothered if the immigrants from south of the border continued their displacement of the “native” populations of the US and eventually began to run the show themselves.

8 Art Deco November 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm

No, I’d be bothered by that. It’s the job of the central government to see to it that that does not happen. However, the central government is in the hands of people who are responsive to a professional managerial element who have little sense of kinship with the broad mass of the population and wish to see them displaced.

Still does not change this history of the Hawaiian Islands

9 Keith November 14, 2014 at 7:48 am

I read the same stat in Philip longmann’s book, The Empty Cradle. It was written in 2004 and he predicted that this will be reversed due to demographic trends. We shall see, it looks like the Bear is back at our throats. The are starting to patrol areas like the Gulf of Mexico with bombers. What could go wrong?

10 Ray Lopez November 14, 2014 at 8:02 am

Putin is grasping at straws, trying to make Russia look scary, like North Korea. Sign of a poseur, albeit can be dangerous.

Watching the World Championship match, game five, and just as TC predicted, the Russians are feeding (so it seems) the Anand camp information, since Anand –again–seems to be winning in the opening, a sure sign of better home analysis. Go Anand go! This will be an upset greater than Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson if wily old Anand can somehow win this match.

11 Ted Craig November 14, 2014 at 8:17 am

Silly comparison. N. Korea’s posing has no effect on its neighbors. Putin’s actions have had a real effect on Russia’s neighbors.

12 Boonton November 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

Japanese citizens kidnapped, immigration crises in China, and periodically bombing S. Korea. Other than that no effect.

13 Ronald Brak November 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

A minimum of 21 months military conscription for $76 dollars a month is also not a problem for South Koreans. I mean it’s not like anyone there earns more than $912 a year or has better things to do than march up and down the square.

14 Ted Craig November 14, 2014 at 10:13 am

Compared to the loss of Crimea, South Ossetia, possibly eastern Ukraine? Do China and Japan face periodic government crises because they are unwilling to align themselves more closely with N. Korea? Please.

15 Ray Lopez November 14, 2014 at 10:56 am

@Ted Craig, others: Not to be a Russian apologist, but the Ukraine was part of the USSR, and they more or less speak the same language (62% similar words says Wikipedia, so it’s probably the same), so RU does have more of an interest in Ukraine than China and Japan do in North Korea, unless you go back to the age of Imperialism. And frankly a significant proportion of Ukrainians favor Russia, which is more than can be said for China or Japan’s citizens vis-a-vis North Korea.

Anand drew Carlsen in an exciting match. This is getting good, I hope Anand can keep going, though it’s still Carlsen’s match to win.

16 Brian Donohue November 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I think Ray’s point, which I agree with if I’m interpreting it properly, is that Putin’s Russia isn’t Cold War 2.0.

17 Art Deco November 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Not to be a Russian apologist, but the Ukraine was part of the USSR, and they more or less speak the same language (62% similar words says Wikipedia, so it’s probably the same),

‘Fraid you are with that remark. https://www.ethnologue.com/language/ukr/view/***EDITION***

The sentiment for re-incorporating the Ukraine into Russia is inconsequential, no matter how often V. Putin and his acolytes refer to the country as an ‘artificial nation’. Putin was not even fully confident of the support of the Great Russians in the Crimea, hence the stuffed ballot boxes.

18 The Other Jim November 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

Rule of thumb: while Obama is still President, all international threats are fake. Just poseurs trying to look scary. The world is full of friends we haven’t met yet – people eager to sign climate treaties, in fact.

It’ll be at least 2 more years before Russian aggression is a serious topic with the NYT crowd.

19 Lord Action November 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

The NYTimes is our own little Potemkin village.

20 Keith November 14, 2014 at 10:01 am

Maybe Obama will misunderstand and think that the threat is to Golf rather than the Gulf. This might spur action on his part.

21 Ray Lopez November 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

The NYT crowd is typically composed of Russian exiles who are hostile to Russia, historically. Anyway, it’s none of our business what the Russians do with Ukraine–let it be another Vietnam or Afghanistan as far as I’m concerned. The biggest mistake the US made was when they started talking about expanding NATO to include Ukraine–what nonsense. Poland was a stretch, but the Ukraine is a bridge too far. What’s next for the West, liberate Belarus?

22 Keith November 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm

What’s next for Russia, conquer the Balkans? You might be a tad too dismissive of all of this.

23 Art Deco November 14, 2014 at 6:14 pm

but the Ukraine is a bridge too far. What’s next for the West, liberate Belarus?

A bridge too far for whom, and why?

Anyway, it’s none of our business what the Russians do with Ukraine

Why is it Russia’s ‘business’ to ‘do’ something with Ukraine?

24 Ray Lopez November 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

@Art Deco, Keith–the Balkans had civil wars over whether or not they wanted to become communist, and the West wisely stayed out of these civil wars (save the Marshall Plan, which, according to the Greeks I talked to, had little effect save it enriched certain already rich families, but I digress). Same should be done with Ukraine. At best the West should economically help the pro-West Ukrainians–at best–and of course complain at the United Nations.

25 athEIst November 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

No, Kazakhstan. That will separate Russia from those gas-rich unpronounceable central Asian -istans who can run their pipelines through Afghanistan and Pakistan down to the Indian Ocean as God intended.

26 Art Deco November 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

the Balkans had civil wars over whether or not they wanted to become communist, , and the West wisely stayed out of these civil wars

No, they did not. Yugoslavia and Albania had partisan forces during the 2d World War who had seized control of these territories by the end of 1944. Popular ‘wants’ had nothing to do with it and the U.S. Government was preoccupied elsewhere. There was a civil war in Greece during the four years following the 2d World War. The U.S. Government most certainly did finance the Greek government’s forces (see “Truman Doctrine”). There were no civil wars in Roumania or Bulgaria. The Red Army was occupying these territories and engineered the suppression of non-Communist forces.

27 Brian Donohue November 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I think this is almost exactly wrong. The NYT does not shrink from saber-rattling over China, and, especially, Russia.

28 JonFraz November 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

Russia is not benign, but it’s also no threat to the US. With the possible exception of the Arctic as global warming opens it, it’s hard to see just where any of our legitimate interests (excludes “Let’s meddle here, there and everywhere” policies) collide with Russia’s.

29 James Clary November 14, 2014 at 8:21 am

Can anyone compare that book to Robert Conquests book of which I have already read?

30 Ray Lopez November 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

@James Clary – a lot of DC area wonks are former Sovietologists, and a lot has been written about the USSR, but for laypeople the most useful book (and voted as such) is this one: Hitler And Stalin: Parallel Lives by Alan Bullock.

Bonus trivia: it’s probable Stalin was a sometime informant for the Czar’s secret police, but of course the record has been sanitized and anybody who knew this dreadful secret unwittingly voted themselves a death sentence long ago.

Bonus trivia II: the Georgian home town of Stalin is aptly named Gori.

31 Jeff Burton November 14, 2014 at 8:24 am

“A lot still happened after that.”

The perils of blogging.

32 Bill Harshaw November 14, 2014 at 8:39 am

Since the US is half the size of Russia and has half the history, we must have grown at about the same rate?

33 mishka November 14, 2014 at 8:49 am

we tried… Mexico we didn’t want. Canada didn’t want us.

34 Art Deco November 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Ivan the Terrible was on the throne in 1558 +/- 25 years. The first abiding colony in British North America was established in Nova Scotia in 1604, so, not half the history, but 90% of the history.

35 Bill November 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

How did they do their feet adjustment when the Soviet Union fell apart and they lost those territories. Those were negative numbers. And, now we live in the present.

If this is an historical quote, then you could also say that the Austro-Hungarian empire grew at so many feet a year at some point, as did the Third Reich.

36 JWatts November 14, 2014 at 11:26 am

“How did they do their feet adjustment when the Soviet Union fell apart and they lost those territories.”

Russia was technically a state (republic) of the Soviet Union. So, my guess is the author didn’t consider the Soviet Union per se.

37 Bill November 14, 2014 at 11:39 am

Guess. or Guess again.

I hope the econ class exams are better written.

38 JWatts November 14, 2014 at 11:54 am

I have no idea what your comment means.

39 Bill November 14, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Read your comment: “So, my guess is the author didn’t consider the Soviet Union per se.”

You guess what could have been meant. If you have to guess what is meant (which state: Soviet Union or Russia), and at what time, the statement of expansion can be true or false, depending on what you guess.

40 John Mansfield November 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

So, the Seward purchase of Alaska turned over three decades worth of Russian expansion.

41 The Anti-Gnostic November 14, 2014 at 10:16 am

Calm down, Tyler. A lot of that was Siberia.

I’m not falling out of my chair over Russia. With nobody to our West, we expanded until we reached ocean too.

42 Locke November 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

yeah but the US isn’t still trying to expand its borders. That’s the difference.

43 The Anti-Gnostic November 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I’ll agree that’s a not-insubstantial difference, but the US is likewise rather explicit about wanting global hegemony for ourselves and NATO missile batteries as close to Moscow as we can get them.

44 Sam Haysom November 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I would be delighted to think this is true. But the Central European missile defense network has been completely gutted likely as the result of a secret agreement between Obama and the Russian President. It’s also somewhat slippery to equate stationing defensive weapons which pose no threat to Russia, as the missiles don’t have traditional warheads, with the agressive foreign policy moves Russia is taking. Likewise, the goal is not to get them as close to Moscow as possible, but as close to Iran and North Korea as possible with the constraints that few nations other than Poland are willing to host the interceptors.

45 Art Deco November 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm

No, we have global hegemony due to the size of our economy. American devotion of resources to military expenditure is outsized compared to the mean abroad, but it’s below even the nadir registered during the period running from 1946 to 1992. Russia also is comparatively generous with it’s military.

46 HoB November 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

US has never lost a territory, at least not one populated by Americans.

47 Mark Thorson November 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I’m not sure John McCain would see it that way.

48 Sam Haysom November 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Do you mean the Canal Zone?

49 Brian November 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm

“the US isn’t still trying to expand its borders.”

How do you explain the American initiative of Lo’ihi then?

50 athEIst November 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm

With nobody to our West, we expanded until we reached ocean too.
I think Mexico(after 1828) and Spain(before 1828) was to our West.

51 athEIst November 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Over the more than four centuries from the time of Ivan the Terrible, Russia expanded an average of fifty square miles per day.
Then the Russians signed the Treaty of Brest-Livotsk. It wasn’t called that and actually was a bit harsher.

52 Michael B Sullivan November 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This plays mostly on the quadratic relationship between distance and area. 50 square miles is about 7 miles x 7 miles. But when you say it like that, people kind of get a vision of 50 miles x 50 miles. At a rate of 50 square miles per year, it takes half a century to get that 50 miles x 50 miles area. Now go and look at Siberia and put a 50 mile x 50 mile box in it.

…and we’re done.

53 Michael B Sullivan November 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm

And I misread it. 😛 Per day, not per year. Well, the linear versus square discussion still holds.

54 Cooper November 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

With regards to current Russian expansion, where does he draw the line?

Belarus and Kazakhstan are client states. South Ossetia is forever lost to Georgia. Crimea is now officially Russian for the foreseeable future. Donetsk now calls itself the “Donetsk People’s Republic”.

The Kremlin-financed editors of Wikipedia have made impressive contributions here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donetsk_People%27s_Republic

55 Vanya November 15, 2014 at 3:21 am

Over the more than four centuries from the time of Ivan the Terrible, Russia expanded an average of fifty square miles per day.

Big deal. Surely Canada has expanded faster than that over the last three centuries, especially if you take as the starting point “Canada” as it was defined before the 1774 Quebec Act.

56 Art Deco November 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm

It has not. Canada’s land area is perhaps 60% that of Russia and, again, the point of departure would be the foundation of Nova Scotia in 1604. Even today, the population of aboriginals in Canada north of about 52 degrees numbers about 360,000.

57 indisguise November 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Ivan the Terrible, by the way, in Russian isn’t Terrible: he is Menacing, a way more targeted trait. Nobody minds, as long as he menaces the right people.
While we are at it, the Red Square isn’t Red either: it is Beautiful. Nobody uses the word in that sense anymore, but everybody is familiar with that meaning since children’s folk stories are full of “красные девицы” and “лето красное” and it’s clear that neither the girls in question nor the summers are red. And War And Peace is actually War And High Society, as school teachers are fond of pointing out.

58 Fritz Geiger November 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Those teachers are wrong: it’s “миръ,” not “мiръ” (which doesn’t mean “high society,” anyway). See: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Война_и_мир#mediaviewer/File:War-and-peace_1873.gif

59 J. Srnec November 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Art Deco: “about a quarter of the population was polynesian at that time”

Where did you get that stat? The last census in the kingdom, in 1890, pegged the number of Polynesians and partial Polynesians at 45% of the population, the majority of those (38% of the total population) being fully native. And that 45% of the pop. was 84% of the citizenry, with 44% of the total pop. being non-nationals. The greatest minorities were Chinese and Japanese. The greatest white minority was the Portuguese.

I suppose it could have changed that much between the census and the queen’s deposition (1893) or the American annexation.

60 Art Deco November 16, 2014 at 10:04 am

Where did you get that stat?

The U.S. Census Bureau

61 elektrikli zincirli vinç November 17, 2014 at 4:55 am

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