News out of Outer Mongolia

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Outer Mongolia is a very large independent truly democratic country, landlocked between a pair multi-ethnic giant empires: the sprawling Russian Federation and the multi-ethic Inner Mongolia within the realm of China.

Mongolia enjoyed a huge economic boom from investments by the Soviet Union and its Comecon satellites in eastern Europe notably East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslavakia and Poland. The Mongol workers and elite became fluent bilingual Russian-Mongolian, and a second huge construction boom in military construction ensued as a bulwark against China in the Soviet-China Cold War.  At the peak of booms, disintegration of the Soviet Block and Comecon triggered immediate collapse of Mongolia’s economy due to abrupt loss of all its export markets, spare parts and technicians. Peaceful revolution to democracy succeeded.

Today older Mongol elites speak fluent Russian, but the under 50’s have ditched Russian in favour of English as the second language in Ulaanbaatar: my 22-year old Mongol daughter Mandukhai (“Mandy”) teaches in the capital and is fluent in English. On Skype today she mentioned that the daytime temperature was in the minus 30°Cs and tonight may reach minus 40°C. Ulaanbaatar is the world’s coldest capital city in winter!

Into this harsh land, trickle escapees from the Russian Federation. Much can be gleaned in an article by Antonio Graceffo: Russians escaping Putin’s war face tough sanctuary in Mongolia.

It is a dangerous myopic British delusion that all Russian citizens are ethnic Russian Slavs. My sources suggest that many, perhaps most, of Putin’s army are probably not ethnic Russian Slavs, but are ethnic minorities from across the length and breadth of remote corners of the Russian Federation. Indeed, according to Graceffo, many of the Russians arriving in Mongolia are of Mongolic ethnicity, being Buryat, Kalmyk and Tuvan. There have also been smaller numbers of Yakut and Slavic people turning up in Mongolia. So far, 22,540 Russian citizens have entered Mongolia.

Putin’s war has driven large numbers of Russian passport holders, particularly those of military age, to flee to the handful of countries where Russian citizens do not need visas. Those countries include Mongolia. According to Graceffo, immediately after the mobilisation announcement, Russian citizens began to exit their country. Since the war began, an estimated 1.4 million have left, either because of the impact of economic sanctions, or to avoid being drafted into the war. Most transited through, travelling on to one of the few other countries that offer visa-free entry to Russians, such as the Central Asian republics, Vietnam, Thailand and Israel.

* Robin Grayson is an adviser to Greater Manchester Liberal Democrats, a former councillor on Greater Manchester County Council and former Opposition Leader on Wigan MBC. He has advised the Albanian, Mongolian, Albanian, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan governments.

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  • Phillip Bennion 28th Jan '23 - 9:33am

    An interesting article Robin. Our sister party in Mongolia has lost most of its support since an unfortunate period of government. They are now trying to regroup. As a vice president of Liberal International I am in direct contact with them. Their international spokesperson is keen to make contact with relevant Liberal Democrats. If you email me I’ll put you in contact.

  • Immense sympathy for a country sandwiched between the two giants. Indeed often forgotten by world events. I suppose that they will have to balance relations between their neighbours and the west so they will need some understanding.

  • Interesting to hear about such a remote part of the world.

    On Skype today she mentioned that the daytime temperature was in the minus 30°Cs and tonight may reach minus 40°C. Ulaanbaatar is the world’s coldest capital city in winter!

    Almost -50˚C in the provinces…

    Temperatures have plummeted in neighboring Mongolia, too.

    Lows of -49.9C (-57.8F) were logged at Bayan Uul and -49C (-56.2F) at Gandan Huryee — readings rivaling historic lows.

    ‘New National Record Low Set In China; All Korean Stations Fall Below Zero; Heathrow’s Coldest Jan Temp Since 1987–With UK National Grid “Rewarding” Brits For Switching Off Power; + Cold Records Fall Across U.S.–As “Piercing” Arctic Outbreak Looms’ [24th. January 2023]:

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