If one takes a casual glance at the Russian population census data, he or she would be astonished to find that a significant part of the Russian population is actually not concentrated west of the Urals but fairly spread out in its Siberia and Far East federal districts. This clearly doesn't make sense economically, as these locations are too inland and the rivers they are sitting on only flow into the Arctic oceans, so transportation relies almost solely on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which was built in the late 19th century.
As a hunch, this almost seems like some sort of planned colonization to me, with many cities of highly similar metallurgy/heavy equipment manufacturing industry as the base of the economy with a population around 100,000 to 1,000,000. To me, this almost feels like the original 13 colonies of colonial America. What was the historical reason behind this seemingly half-successful colonization? Why was Russia so insistent in putting people into its vast interior, where it was absolutely safe from enemy invasion and not worth invasion or even nuclear strikes anyway, as opposed to just establishing big military outposts and mining/oil towns like in Alaska?