Western Europe and Russia: Transport Connections and Socio-economic Development

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The disintegration of the USSR and the creation of a new independent state — Russia — predetermined changes in many spheres, including external transport connections. A new political regime and market considerations were substituted for old ideas of isolation and the so-called “planned economy.” The behavior of the country became much more pragmatic in the spheres mentioned above. Transport connections are not necessarily interesting per se, but are interesting as a source of national, regional and local development. Russia’s shift from an industrial to a post-industrial stage of development has increased the importance of the transport and communication sectors in the country’s economy, and its role for regional/locally-based industry.

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The boundary has been the key concept in political geography. Boundaries are typically understood as empirical manifestations of state power and territoriality. This paper suggests a multidimensional approach which could serve the analysis boundaries in the world of de- and reterritorialization. Boundaries are understood as institutions and symbols that are produced and reproduced in social practices and discourses. The meanings of the Finnish-Russian border are discussed both on the scale of Finnish state and one locality that was divided by the new border after World War II. The roles of this border have varied a lot, reflecting not only the Finnish-Russian relations but also the changes in global geopolitics. Current economic practices and discourses strive to open the border to permit a more free movement of capital and people, but in terms of Finnish foreign policy, security discourses and territorial control it is still a relatively closed border.
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