Cross-border digitalization of the western border of Russia: potential and prospects
Border regions are significant geostrategic territories, which long-term sustainable development is one of the priorities of Russia’s national security. The specificity of their economic-geographical position necessitates the development and implementation by the authorities of special governance approaches aimed at finding a balance between the openness and barrier function of the state border. One of the most common tools for the spatial development of border areas is the sustainable cross-border cooperation with the regions of neighboring countries using various froms of cross-border cooperation, incl. focused on the generation and diffusion of innovations. The covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, having become a truly global challenge of our time, has made significant changes not only in the policies of many countries regarding the border, but also in the functioning of already established cross-border regions. The impossibility of fully implementing the previous formats of interethnic and interregional interaction has necessitated the search for new forms of cooperation, primarily based on the use of rapidly developing digital technologies. This led to the growth of academic and practical interest in substantiating the mutual effects of digitalization, innovation and internationalization for the regions. This article is devoted to assessing the potential and prospects of cross-border digitalization of the Western borderland of Russia. The objectives of the study were to identify the gap between border regions in the level of accessibility and penetration of digital technologies, as a significant condition for the formation of cross-border digital connections. The object of study is 15 subjects of the Russian Federation and 17 regions of NUTS 2 neighboring states. Using geoinformation and statistical methods of analysis, a typology of regions by the value of the digitalization index is proposed, with the allocation of leaders, moderate and lagging regions, and an assessment of their spatial location relative to the state border. Possible reasons for the current digital inequality, primarily of a socio-economic nature, are discussed. The determining role of the institutional factor in realizing the potential of cross-border digitalization has been substantiated. It is concluded that political efforts for digital convergence in the western direction are being undertaken only between Russia and Belarus, although further intensification is required.
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