At the end of a distant and still-peaceful 2012, one of the activists of the Putin-Medvedev party United Russia, Anton Berdikhin, proposed a solution unique in its simplicity: to force Ukraine into the Customs Union and send 7 million of its citizens to Siberia. According to his logic, Ukrainians were entrusted with the responsible mission of creating a demographic cordon against the "Chinese influx." Moreover, it was suggested that it’s primarily the Ukrainians from the country’s west, the cradle of “Banderites” and “hatred” to all that is Russians, who were supposed to be deported to the areas that could hardly be called suitable for life. The idea voiced was almost like an operation of coercion into "brotherhood." Five years ago, the author of the idea was almost anathematized in Russia, while his statement led to an interstate scandal. After all, back then, the Kremlin still sought to get Ukraine into the Customs Union, using mostly carrots.

Whatever Russian authorities may report on the increase in the birth rate, and whatever songs the Russian state TV sings about Putin's stability and general well-being of the country (unlike Ukraine), no Russians expressed their will to resettle to the dying-out Russian regions. For some reason, despite Russia’s vast territories, its citizens are all somehow drawn closer to Moscow and St. Petersburg, or at least to the European part of the country.

Russia is a huge state but with not enough territories suitable for life. And it's not just the climate. One thing is watching Russian TV channels on a Japanese TV set assembled in China, from their apartments in Ukraine or Germany, and quite another thing is living in a country of "stability and security" that brands the whole world unstable and evil. For example, earlier this year, a big family of Russian Germans suddenly became stars across Russia after they claimed they got tired of turning a blind eye to "sex-ed lessons" for their children in perverted German schools and therefore decided to move to her historic homeland. But then it turned out that these "TV patriots" had enough patience for just two months of living in Russia: a WC in the backyard, daily need to get water from a well, and a place to have a bath over at their neighbors only… This all made the family retreat back to “rotten Europe.”

In Russia, they like to tell their citizens bogeyman stories about NATO and boast of friendship with China, although it is the Chinese dragon that represents the main threat to sparsely populated, but still Russian, Siberia and the Far East. Despite public reaffirmations of strategic partnership between the two countries, it is unlikely that the Russian government does not realize this. Therefore, they regularly pursue their attempts to resettle more people to these depopulated areas. But the trouble is that Russians don’t want to go there. On the contrary, they try to get closer to the islands of civilization. The only way out is to "import" population from abroad. And the Chinese will never do, as Russia needs people there with a close cultural and mental code.

To this end, ten years ago, they came up with the State program for the voluntary resettlement of compatriots to Russia. This was done under widely promoted ideas of the "Russian world" and “Russia rising from its knees.” The actual goal of the state program is improving the economic state of depressed regions and compensating the outflow of the population "from strategically important regions" by attracting migrants for permanent residence. To be fair, it should be noted that 60 regions of the Russian Federation take part in this program, and participation does not imply an automatic dispatch to the Russian outback beyond the Urals. But there are so-called "priority regions": Buryatia; Kamchatka, Khabarovsk, Primorsk, Trans-Baikal territories; Sakhalin, Irkutsk, Amur, and Magadan regions. If you look at the map, all these regions are on the border with or in close proximity to China. In the summer of 2016, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev boasted that over a decade, half a million people had resettled within the program’s framework. And half of them in the past two years were refugees from Donbas.

But before the war, no one in Ukraine really sought permanent residence in Russia. Before the seizure of Donbas by Russian invaders, in 2013 citizens of Ukraine occupied only the fifth position (8.3%) in the ranking of all resettled compatriots. Most people that moved to Russia were from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.

It turns out that in order to force Ukrainians to resettle to Russia, it is necessary to destroy their homes and instill hatred for their own country. Only having lost hope for the future in the territory of the occupied Donbas do these people leave for the Urals. Today, every second settler to the Far East and Siberia is a Ukrainian native. And it’s the former residents of the most "Russian-oriented" regions of Ukraine who went for the forced journey…

A year ago, the State Duma of the Russian Federation noted that 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens (most of them in Donetsk and Luhansk regions) should be offered to move to the Far East or Siberia voluntarily instead of deporting them.

The desire to solve their demographic problems at the expense of Ukraine continues to take over Kremlin minds.

This is how the modern Ukrainian-Chinese border is being created.

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow