Monday, January 9, 2012

Will Siberia Become the 51st State—or Maybe 51 through 77?

You know you’re in trouble when Pravda is your only source on a story.  So I am taking with a grain of salt the report by the paper, on December 28th, 2011, that there is a movement afoot to separate Siberia from the Russian Federation and make it part of the United States of America.  (Siberia is not a political unit; it is the term used for the parts of Russia that are in Asia, east of the Ural Mountains.)

The story does not seem to be corroborated by any other source.  The only concrete reference in the article is to one Vladimir Kiselyov, age 37, of Mezhdurechensk in southwestern Siberia’s Kemerovo Oblast, who supposedly started up a group on Facebook promoting the idea.  The Pravda article then connects this very tendentiously to the idea put forth by Zbigniew Brzezhinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national-security advisor (and one of the architects of the now-decades-old Afghanistan mess), for a “new commonwealth from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”  (Look at a map, though; that just indicates a vast swath of the Pacific.)

Mikhail Bakunin

In fact, however, Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian anarchist thinker, proposed an independent democratic Siberia in the 1860s and dreamed of it allying itself with the United States as a way of spreading democracy through Asia and to Russia from the east.  During the 1917-18 Russian Civil War that became the Revolution, Mensheviks declared an independent Siberia in Irkutsk, and adopted a diagonal green-and-white bicolor as their flag, but it was a short-lived idea, and the Bolsheviks gradually brought all of Siberia under a unitary state based in Moscow.  It is not unlikely that the Mensheviks would have supported the idea of joining the U.S.

Siberia’s regional coat of arms (unofficial)

But that is all far in the past.  I can conclude only that this recent article (Pravda is no longer an official state newspaper, as it was in the Soviet period; in tone and accuracy it is somewhere between the New York Post and the Weekly World News) is a ham-fisted attempt to paint separatist movements in the Russian Federation as ridiculous.  This is a reasonable propaganda goal for supporters of Vladimir Putin, since the current “Russian Winter” people-power uprising against the government has the potential to reawaken regional separatist movements—in Siberia and elsewhere—that were encouraged early on by Boris Yeltsin (who told regional governors to “take as much autonomy as you can stand”) but then stomped on by Putin, most horrifically in his wars against Chechen separatists.  There are dormant separatist movements in many part of Siberia—in the Sakha Republic (a.k.a. Yakutia), Buryatia, and the Tuva Republic, among other places—but the autonomy movements of the 1990s did not include Siberian nationalism per se.

Flag of the Tuva Republic

Nor would the U.S. be terribly interested in annexing Siberia, I gather.  During Quebec’s last secessionist crisis, in 1995, there was talk of Canada’s Maritime provinces—which would have been geographically cut off by an independent Quebec from the rest of Anglophone Canada and its capital—joining the U.S., and even that was regarded as laughable precisely because the Maritimes were so economically depressed.  Why would the U.S. want four more West Virginias?  Siberia would be an even more ridiculous proposition, needless to say.

But let’s think for a moment what would happen if the U.S. annexed Siberia.  For one thing, Siberia makes up more than three-quarters of Russia’s territory, so the United States would suddenly move from third-largest country in the world (or fourth-largest, if you count Taiwan as part of China and decline to include U.S. overseas territories) to an easy number one—almost 9 million square miles (ca. 23,310,000 square km) in extent, exceeding by more than 2 million square miles (ca. 5,180,000 square km) Russia’s current size.  Russia, meanwhile, would plummet from first place to 19th, with just over a million and a half square miles.  The new top-20 ranking would be: 1. U.S., 2. Canada, 3. China, 4. Brazil, 5. Australia, 6. India, 7. Argentina, 8. Kazakhstan, 9. Algeria, 10. Democratic Republic of the Congo, 11. Denmark (including Greenland), 12. Saudi Arabia, 13. Mexico, 14. Indonesia, 15. Sudan (north), 16. Libya, 17. Iran, 18. Mongolia, 19. Russia, 20. Peru.

Russia would be smaller than Kazakhstan.  Just get your pointy head around that, Putin.

One of several unofficial flags of Siberia, though Siberians, on the whole
tend to consider Siberia a region, not a nation.  Looks to me like a lynx
that’s got a hold of a mink, no?—or a minx that’s got hold of a link
... or something like that.

In terms of population, Siberia’s 40 million people, added to the U.S.’s 300-million-plus, would not change the U.S.’s current population ranking at no. 3, behind China and India, but it would dislodge Russia from its current no. 8 spot to no. 11, between Mexico and the Philippines.

If Siberia joined the U.S. as one state, it would be by far the largest state, and in fact would be considerably larger than all the other fifty states put together, and larger than any single country in the world.  More likely is that Siberia’s 27 (out of Russia’s total of 83) constituent “federal subjects”—the republics, autonomous regions, krais, oblasts, and okrugs that are its provinces and territories—would join the U.S. as separate states, for a total of 77.  This would create, for one thing, a flag question.  The red and white stripes would possibly end up alongside a slightly unfamiliar rectangle featuring an 11-by-7 grid of stars:

—unless one went with alternating lines, specifically five rows of nine alternating with four rows of eight, which looks more like our current flag:

(See this article on the mathematician Skip Garibaldi’s attempt to come up with a formula for forming new star grids as new states join the union, and try this widget for generating flags for each number of states up to 100.)

Alaska would no longer be the largest state.  It would be third, behind the Sakha Republic (1,198,152 square miles, or 3,102,300 square km) and Krasnoyarsk Krai (903,363 square miles, or 2,339,700 square km).  Take that, Sarah Palin—plus, you’d no longer be able to see Russia from your front porch ... or whatever.

Even better, Texas would no longer be the second-largest state, it would be ninth, after Sakha, Krasnoyarsk, Alaska, Tyumen Oblast, Khabarovsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug.  Take that, Rick Perry!

Well, yippee-ki-yay, ever’thin’s big in the Sakha Republic.

But perhaps oddest of all would be the situation of one of America’s 77 states being something called the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, a desolate, Maryland-sized scrap of land just to the north of China’s northern Manchurian wastes.  This forlorn place was Josef Stalin’s dumping ground for Russia’s Jews.  Today, only 1% of the population is Jewish, but the territory was never renamed.

Location of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast

In this idle what-if exercise, one thing, however, is clear: the first thing Rick Santorum would do as President of a United States of America and Siberia is change the Jewish Autonomous Oblast’s current flag:

After all, there are the children to think about.

[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  The book, which contains dozens of maps and over 500 flags, is now in the layout phase and should be on shelves, and available on Amazon, by early fall 2014.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even though you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook.]


  1. Remember the submarine-assisted North Pole flag planting stunt the Russians did? They were trying to lay the groundwork for claiming the vast natural resources under the rapidly vanishing ice cap. That could be a big motivation for annexation, especially if Siberian land joined not as full states, but rather territories that were not subject to EPA regulation.

    And unfettered timber harvesting! I think it would take at least a few decades for American corporate greed to render the area into a desert... meanwhile every US citizen could have their own log cabin! Oh, and we could re-purpose the Bridge to Nowhere so we could drive our SUVs from Alaska into Siberia and picnic in the Tunguska National Park.

  2. I'd love for Siberia to become a U.S.State.
    In realty because you can can't belive everything.
    I'd like Canda to be come a U.S state.
    and thought not a true country Antarticia should be a US State
    all 3 should vote on state-hood in 2014, ect,
    After Purto Rico becomes the 51st state.
    But not to contradict my, self like most Americans,
    Russia,and The CiS should hopefuly conitue to be Democratic,
    like they should always have been.
    I'd like to contact the group on facebook via E-mail, if I could,
    since I don't have Face-book.
    Were can I get there E-mail, address.
    Thanks Dave Fisherman.-U.S.A.

  3. Vladimir Putin better leave office or leave in a more natural way soon, or his number of involuntary manslaughters will continue to skyrocket, as he allows police to kidnap the people, claiming they are under arrest, rape women and children, rob them, claiming it as evidence of stolen/counterfeit money or of forgery. Which is why they wear masks. They don't use masks because of the cold- they're cold-hearted, cold-blooded Russian police with ringleader Vladimir Putin as their head, which doesn't need a mask, since he's the ruler behind closed doors. All this, because he believes in domination, not only of his country, but of the lives of his people. He calls it maintaining; we call it betrayal.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. After Crime situation a lot of Siberians are ready struggling for their Independence.

  6. If Siberia ever becomes a U.S. Territory, followed by a U.S. State, not only would the U.S. benefit from the natural resources, but the U.S. would also create a new beginning for Siberia. An American beginning. With American freedom and liberty, new jobs, better development across SB, and like Alaska- all Russians would be forced to leave, but would be welcome to return legally. And another interesting thing would be- the U.S. population would be low for its new size. A lower density. Either if at least 1/3 of the population moves out into Siberia, or if no significant amount of people move out to Siberia... at least not right away. Then the U.S. would have a lot of rural land. Either way, the U.S. would never remotely be considered overpopulated for the U.S. to reduce the national debt by at least 50% in a short amount of time. Once if Siberia becomes a U.S. State and not during a territory-status. THEN- as Ukranians have hoped, Ukraine could join the U.S., since rivers would be the main link between UK & SB. Same with (New) Georgia (NG). And whether or not Ukraine ever joins the U.S., the U.S. would allow Ukraine to annex back Crimea. Hopefully by the time if the U.S. annexes Siberia, North Korea would already reunite with South Korea, thus solving the problem of North Korea sharing a border with the U.S.. The annexation of Siberia would also make building of the Bering Tunnel link between Alaska and Siberia a priority. As well as the Lena Bridge in Yakutsk. And the trans-Alaska and trans-Siberian railways from the tunnel to the national rail system. Since if Siberia would be part of America, hopefully they name the trans-continental railway the Trans-America Railway. Although the railway across Siberia would be almost 2,000 miles in length, it would still not be as long as the first transcontinental railway, 1,912 miles long, completed in 1869, across nowhere east to west, which was built at a rate of .87 mile per day. And with all the gear for the cold and the development of machines to work in the snow, flatten a snow path for a railway and to clear trees out of the way, and with heat pipes to keep snow from burying such a railroad in such weather conditions, the Trans-Siberian Railroad could certainly be built just as fast as it would across desert. And if the bridge to Sakhalin and the bridge to Japan get built as Russia plans, before if the U.S. ever annexes Siberia, Americans could use them to travel by car to Japan and the Japanese could use them to travel to the U.S.. Unfortunately, unlike Ukraine and Crimea, Japan might not receive the chance to annex Sakhalin, although Sakhalin was never part of Japan, except at the time of the Empire of Japan. Given Japan's population and density, the Japanese could use the land. Also considering how relatively small Japan is compared even to Alaska. And the fact that although Sakhalin is small, the annexation by Japan would make Japan a good percentage in an increase of Japan's size in area. Although the Soviet Union was bigger than Russia is, and would allow the potential for the U.S. getting a far larger than otherwise amount of land, if the U.S. were to annex Siberia, I'm glad that Russia is smaller as it is than the Soviet Union. Because since the fall of the Soviet Union and up until if ever the U.S. annexes Siberia, a large amount of Soviet- or otherwise-Russian land for the time being, is off the map for good. Especially Kazakh (Kazakhstan today). And Kazakh-U.S. relations are very bright. Whereas Russia's relations with the U.S. are as dark as gamma rays.


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