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Liam Denning

Russia Isn’t Built to Handle Climate Change

The country has a lot to lose as the planet warms but will also pay a high price to fight it.

We’re not ready.

We’re not ready.

Photographer: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images

Growing up in the U.K., my one certainty about Russia was that it was cold. Any winter freeze was liable to be blamed on an ill Siberian wind, and no TV footage of the place was seemingly complete without someone sporting an ushanka. This cold transcended the merely physical. Relations with Moscow were invariably either thawing or freezing, a result of our interminable and (thankfully) low-temperature war. 

Always a cliche, now even its kernel of truth is melting away. The world is warming, but Russia is warming faster. Besides the very soil, Russia’s finances and institutions will turn squishier as temperatures rise. And this all coincides with another imminent epochal shift in the political landscape.