Iran Aircraft Maintenance Consortium With China, India & Russia

Iran is to form an aircraft maintenance consortium with China, India and Russia. Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh, the Head of the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAO) has announced that four countries have been sending their commercial passenger planes to the Iran for repairs and maintenance and that it will form a consortium with India, China, and Russia to set necessary standards for aircraft repair services.

Iran has repaired six foreign aircraft and several airplane engines this year and has achieved the required level of airworthiness. Iran is also planning to build three types of jet aircraft in the 50, 72 and 150 seat capacity passenger planes. Russia is also in a partnership with the nearby UAE to develop a new generation of supersonic aircraft.

Aircraft maintenance has become an issue due to the West’s sanctions, which prevent replacement parts and maintenance equipment being sent to both Russia and Iran. However, both China and Russia have well-established aviation manufacturing industries; both have been developing their own domestic aircraft for decades, while India has a significant role in the global aviation parts industry.

Opting out of Airbus and Boeing supplies

All these countries possess significant Airbus and Boeing fleets, but will now be opting to install parts and conduct maintenance without the support of the original manufacturers – a blow to the aviation supply chain industry in the United States and Europe. These will talk up issues concerning safety, yet China and India already supply parts to both manufacturers. China especially will be highly diligent in its approach to parts, as a one-party state it cannot afford to have its citizens exposed to airworthiness problems – prior to covid Chinese airlines carried 585 million passengers. Asia carried more passengers (35%) in that year than any other region, including Europe (27%) and North America (22%). Currently, air traffic post-covid is at about 65% of 2019 levels.

The decision to form an aircraft repair and maintenance consortium between China, India, Iran, and Russia will also surely lead in future to the development of an Asian-built passenger airliner to challenge, in time, the Wests dominance of the aviation industry and to provide alternatives as Western sanctions motivate them to do so.

This is already occurring. To reduce their reliance on Western systems, China and Russia are improving their indigenous technologies: Russia is hoping to carry out the first test flight for the in-development high-thrust Aviadvigatel PD-35 engine later this year, while China is working on its CJ-2000 turbofan, aimed at powering the CR929 passenger airliner that both are jointly working on. That could be in service by 2025-26.

Northern Sea Route Development Plan To 2035

Agenda cuts Europe Off From All Russian Arctic Resources And Concentrates On Asian Customers  

The Russian government has approved a new development plan for the Arctic Northern Sea Route (NSR) to be effective from now until 2035. And with about 1.8 trillion rubles (US$29 billion) allocated for the development of the NSR, according to the press service of the Russian Cabinet of Ministers.

The main goals of the plan are to ensure reliable and safe transportation of goods and goods for people living in the Russian Far North. As well as to create conditions for the implementation of investment projects in the Russian Arctic.

The plan includes more than 150 events: the construction of the Utrenny terminal for liquefied natural gas and gas condensate, the Bay Sever oil loading terminal, and the Yenisei coal terminal. In addition, it is also planned to build onshore and hydraulic structures to supply the Baimskoye field, create marine transshipment complexes for liquefied natural gas in the Kamchatka Territory and the Murmansk Region, and a hub port for organizing transit traffic in Vladivostok.

It is also planned to build a transport and logistics hub in the seaport of Korsakov on Sakhalin. Develop the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk transport hubs. And to build bunkering and maintenance bases in the Far Eastern ports of Tiksi and Dikson.

The Cabinet of Ministers also allocated part of the funds for the creation of ships of the icebreaker fleet (including the lead icebreaker of the Leader project), as well as the development of Arctic shipbuilding and ship repair production facilities. plans to improve the infrastructure of the Northern Sea Route in accordance with the Russian Maritime Doctrine, which was also approved last week.

The NSR is viewed as a main artery of the Russian Arctic. It has three main tasks, to:

  • Become an energy superhighway for export of hydrocarbons and other natural resources of the Russian Arctic;
  • Supply everything needed to the ports and new “points of economic growth” of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF);
  • Assure smooth international transit.

The plan of practical measures to develop the NSR infrastructure up to 2035, also provides for:

  • Renovation of ports;
  • Building of SAR (search & rescue) and auxiliary fleet;
  • Expansion of navigational and hydrographic surveys;
  • Building new icebreakers;
  • Stimulating cargo shipments and international transit;
  • Boosting local energy supply, staff education, encouraging domestic shipbuilding and assuring environmental safety.

The development of the shortest sea route between the European, Western part of Russia and the Russian Far East will be able to reorient traffic flows to Asia. This will allow not only to intensify the transportation of energy carriers and cargoes, but also to develop the Arctic cruise tourism that is gaining momentum among Asian tourists. None of the new plans intend to provide Russian routes through to Europe, Canada, or the United States, effectively leaving the resources in the Russian Arctic for Asian customers. We provide Russian expert commentary on the plans as follows:

Association of Partners for Coordinating the Use of the Northern Sea Route

Vladimir Kharlov, vice president of the Association of Partners for Coordinating the Use of the Northern Sea Route, has stated “I outline the main directions that will remove obstacles to the effective development of the NSR, primarily its eastern part, which experts call an ‘infrastructural desert.’ This is where the main investments are needed. The cargo fleet operating on the NSR and nearby rivers is old, the development of the port infrastructure of the NSR requires serious reconstruction and modernization at the ports of Dikson and Tiksi. Among other areas that should reduce the risks of using the NSR to a minimum are the creation of a stable communication system, improving the safety of navigation and the emergency rescue system in the Arctic. There is a lot of work to be done: there is not much time left until 2035 to solve the main problems of the NSR”

Project Office for the Development of the Arctic

Nikolai Doronin, Chairman of the Board of the Project Office for the Development of the Arctic, has commented “Now the NSR operates only in an unbalanced mode, being mainly the export of products of large businesses and the northern delivery. For small and medium-sized businesses, the NSR is inconvenient due to the lack of a ’flat tariff’, meaning the cost of transportation for group cargo varies very much depending on the season. With the adoption of the NSR development plan, these problems will remain in the past. The main thing is that the government’s plan confirms the previously chosen course for the development of the Arctic zone, described in the development strategy of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation until 2035. A return to Arctic oblivion, as it was in the 1990’s, is not expected.”

Center for Arctic Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Diana Timoshenko, senior fellow at the Center for Arctic Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, adds that, despite the fact that the transport industry has been actively developing over the past decade, there is no need to talk about the accelerated pace of operation of the NSR.

According to her estimates, a moderate, cautious, but directed development is expected in the near future. This is due to the lack of the necessary basic trading system for the transportation of goods, logistics and cargo turnover along the NSR, which could be relied upon to significantly increase these turnovers; there is also no single operator.

Timoshenko said “At the same time, the competitiveness of the system will also be determined by both effective planning and uninterrupted delivery, the introduction of control and support systems (including those based on Industry 4.0 technologies), ensuring the safety of cargo, and ease of use of the electronic trading platform for customers from Russia and abroad (foreign languages, ease of site navigation, security of electronic payments, and on. The new Maritime Doctrine, adopted on July 31, 2022, refers to the introduction of a Russian-only satellite communication and broadcasting system (named ‘Express-RV’) to create a single information space for supporting maritime activities. This will give a good incentive to operate the NSR and mark a new stage of development in the Arctic.”

Legal Issues    

Russian Senator Olga Epifanova has stated that it will be necessary to adopt a law on northern delivery using icebreaker ships along the Northern Sea Route. On the part of the population of the Arctic regions, there are many problems in this direction. The legal status of the NSR and the specifics of navigation along it are regulated not by a single, but by a whole range of regulatory legal acts.

Epifanova said that “Attempts to develop a single law on the NSR have been made repeatedly, but all of them were rejected for various reasons. However, in my opinion, the totality of public relations regarding the Northern Sea Route should be determined by a single document. It is necessary to legislatively emphasize the national status of the Northern Sea Route, its strategic importance. This is especially important today.”

Logistics Issues

Last year’s logistical crisis in Pevek, when several dozen ships stood in the Arctic ice, became a trigger for improving the management of the Northern Sea Route. Without a systematic approach, it will be difficult to achieve the goal of 80 million tons of cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route in 2024.

“Today, one of the main problems in the development of the NSR is its small depth – up to 12.5 m on the route between the Arctic islands,” Elena Kudryashova, rector of the Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NAFU), has said. “Modern tankers and lighter carriers have a draft significantly exceeding 12 m. In this sense, the most problematic sections of the NSR are the Sannikov Strait and the area around the Bear Islands. At the same time, ships with a significant draft can use routes passing at higher latitudes north of the New Siberian Islands. However, from a navigational point of view, these routes have been little studied and require additional hydrographic studies.”

Navigational Issues

Alexander Makarov, director of the Arctic and Antarctic Institute, follows up by saying “With the increase in cargo traffic on the Northern Sea Route, the role of hydrometeorological support for safe and efficient navigation is noticeably increasing. Climate change in the Arctic is happening three times faster than anywhere else on the planet. But the feeling that warmer weather will make it easier for ships to navigate the Arctic seas is misleading. On the contrary, the situation is becoming less predictable, and the number of dangerous ice phenomena is increasing. For example, in contrast to previous years, the last two years for navigation in the Arctic seas have been quite difficult. In addition to safety, the importance of the efficiency of postings is growing – the same route can be passed by a ship with more and less energy consumption, and the final cost of cargo transportation depends on this.”

Increasing NSR Traffic Volumes

The planned volumes of cargo traffic along the NSR, previously agreed as attainable targets, also take into account the intensive development of Arctic deposits. It is expected that minerals will become the main base for the NSR. The international situation and the sanctions policy of Western countries against Russia make it necessary to increase trade with other regions, including Asian countries, meaning goods delivery will now use alternative routes. An increase in cargo traffic is inevitable, although it is still difficult to predict in specific numbers. The modern icebreaking and transport fleet under construction today only strengthens the case for increased volumes of traffic along the NSR.

Igor Pavlovsky, head of the Information and Analytical Center of the Project Office for the Development of the Arctic said that “An efficient transport corridor allows cargo to be transported without “adventures”: the danger of ice formation and ice escort. We must be aware that the Northern Sea Route will not be such a trade route in the near foreseeable future. The only thing that can allow it to compete with other major trade routes is the blocking of either the Strait of Malacca or the Suez Canal.” Neither is predicted yet, so the Northern Sea Route can be used to meet domestic Russian needs. The government’s order demonstrates this quite clearly. This is not expected to develop as an international transport corridor except maybe to the East.”

Cargo is growing at a rapid pace

Vera Smorchkova, professor of the Department of Labor and Social Policy, IGSU RANEPA, notices that the cargo turnover of the Northern Sea Route is growing at a rapid pace from year to year. If this trend continues, then some experts predict an excess of the planned volumes – 80 million tons by 2024. She said “The Northern Sea Route faces a number of difficulties, primarily seasonal, since most of the time of the year it is covered with ice. In this regard, active work is underway on the construction and use of icebreakers. Russia is actively assisted by China, which is also interested in the development of the NSR.”

Elena Egorycheva, from the Faculty of Economics of the RUDN University is more upbeat about the potential for a European strategy, saying that the NSR “Will allow Russia to transport our goods to Europe not through the Indian Ocean, but by the shortest, cheapest and safest route.”

Alternative Comparisons

Despite the huge difficulties concerning the development of the NSR, its development and efficiency remains valid, and it is becoming an important transport artery. Although during the USSR, the cargo turnover was a little more than 7 million tons, this has already been surpassed to reach 35 million tons. There will be further growth, primarily due to an increase in the transportation of energy resources. The NSR may well become the leading trade route in Russia. However, it remains relatively small in terms of comparisons – the Suez Canal cargo turnover in 2021 was about 2 billion tons. An updated plan come 2035 however may show greater potential once the existing new plan has been implemented.

This article was adapted from a piece published in Russian by the Izvestia newspaper. The original Russian version may be viewed here.

India will help Russia turn Arctic into global trade route

New Delhi is planning to assist in developing Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR). And turning it into an international trade artery, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“India will help Russia in the development of the Northern Sea Route and opening this route for international trade the same way as Russia helps India to develop with the aim of space exploration and the preparation of the national manned Gaganyaan program,” Modi said, speaking via video link at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.

The Indian prime minister also said Moscow and New Delhi had managed to make significant progress in developing commercial ties despite massive disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The friendship between India and Russia has stood up against the test of time,” he said.

“Most recently, it was seen in our robust cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic, including in the area of vaccines. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the health and pharma sectors in our bilateral cooperation.”

According to the Indian head of state, an energy partnership between the two nations would bring greater stability to the global energy market.

Modi also said that such joint projects as the Chennai-Vladivostok sea corridor, which is currently under development, provide greater connectivity along with the North-South transport corridor.


Major deal on developing Russia’s Big Northern Sea Route sealed at Eastern Economic Forum

A broad agreement aimed at providing stable growth of exports, cabotage and transit traffic along Russia’s Arctic sea route has been signed at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Friday.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the Ministry for Development of the Far East and the Arctic agreed to closely cooperate on projects aimed at developing the transport artery stretching along Russia’s Arctic coast.

“The Big Northern Sea Route from Murmansk to Vladivostok plays an important role in transport security, and connects by sea the European part of Russia with the Far East,” Rosatom’s director general, Aleksey Likhachev, told the media on the sidelines of the EEF.

“We are interested in promoting cooperation under this project with both Russian and foreign counterparts,” he added.

The Northern Sea Route lies from the Kara Gate Strait in the west to Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka in the east. The Big Northern Sea Route includes the Arkhangelsk, Murmansk regions and St. Petersburg and the Far East from the Northern Sea Route’s border in Chukotka to Vladivostok. The 5,500-kilometer (3,417-mile) lane is the shortest sea passage between Europe and Asia.

“KamAZ of Doomsday, the conqueror of the poles…

You all know such tractors and trucks as KamAZ. They can be found on the streets of absolutely any city, on the highway, or even in villages. But what do we usually see? These are trucks, well, dump trucks. But what if I tell you that KamAZ has an incredible truck capable of driving anywhere in general, of unrealistic dimensions and many functions, as well as with incredible design solutions? Today I will tell you about the coolest, largest and most expensive KamAZ – KamAZ-e “Arctic”!

In fact, no matter what work of art “Arctic” may seem. During the premiere, it did not make a splash. “How so ?!” – you ask. The answer is further in the article!


Creature

For the first time, the idea to make such a “miracle” came from a designer from Naberezhnye Chelny in 2017 and they embodied it in the form of KamAZ 6345 (in the photo on the left). However, it had to be improved and almost completely changed, and in the course of this, “Arctic” appeared. And when it was presented at the “COMTRANS19” exhibition, everyone thought it was just an improved 6345! However, if the old “Arctic” had a 6×6 base, the old cockpit. Then when everyone realized what KamAZ had done, then all the youth clambered over this car and just the same a sensation took place!

KamAZ 6345 (Left) and KamAZ 6455 (right, the same new Arctic) Photo taken from the site gruzovikpress.ru

Appearance

Agree that the appearance of this truck is something absolutely unusual and indescribable. This is a real doomsday machine. High ground clearance, unusual design, a bunch of ladders and equipment and the most unusual thing – wheels! It is also very unusual to watch him turn, but more on that later.

At the driver

This is how the workplace of the driver of this “miracle” looks like. But in order to drive such a truck, you need to be a real extreme, or a complete professional in your field.

Despite the abundance of functions and the unusualness of this truck, the driver will not be confused in the cab: everything is intuitive and simple, especially for those who have already driven KamAZ-ah. As you may have noticed, there is an automatic transmission here, because poking around with a “handle” on such a car would not be the best thing to do. Naturally, even a sleeping bag is provided here!

For what

I think that by the very name of this tractor, you have already understood what it was created for. The word “arctic” speaks for itself! But it was made not only for the conquest of the poles. It is provided for and created for hard-to-reach terrain, where there is no road from the word “at all”;
for wetlands where conventional trucks cannot pass; and the list of what it was prepared for includes tundra, taiga, permafrost.

Photo taken from the site gruzovikpress.ru

Constructive decisions

Naturally, the most important and unusual solution, one might even say a design temptation, is the articulated frame, which is movable in the horizontal plane and provides a minimum turning radius. The maximum folding angle, by the way, is 45 degrees!

Photo taken from the site gruzovikpress.ru

Technical specifications

Below, instead of a ton of text, I will give photographs of the size of the “Arctic” 8×8 and a small list of its technical characteristics:

Photo taken from the site gruzovikpress.ru

Photo taken from the site gruzovikpress.ru

Here is such an article! By the way, the price of this miracle starts at 15 million rubles! What do you think about this truck? Personally, I don’t even know how to summarize

India has key first-mover edge on China in Iran

India doubling down on Iran’s Chabahar port project as strategic counter to China’s Belt and Road gains trade traction

By FM SHAKIL

When China clinched a massive $400 billion bilateral investment pact with Iran, few noted that India was already well-engaged.

By the end of May, India will begin full-scale operations in its first foreign port venture at Iran’s Chabahar. That is facility that opens on the Gulf of Oman that will aim to facilitate more South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East trade while bypassing Pakistan.

India’s US$500 million investment represents a clear and potent commercial challenge to China’s massive port investment in neighboring Pakistan’s Gwadar. Gwadar is a key component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The 10-year lease agreement, a deal first clinched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tehran in 2016, has until now been hobbled by US sanctions imposed under the Donald Trump administration.  

Indian suppliers and engineers, some with interests in the US, were reluctant to deliver essential machinery and services to Iran on fears they could somehow be sanctioned, despite clear exemptions on Chabahar in Trump’s sanction order. That led to certain speculation that China may take over the project from India.

New Delhi has doubled down and accelerated the project with the shift from Trump to Biden. It is banking like others on a new breakthrough on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement and a broader US-Iran warming trend.

Aerial view of Iran’s Chabahar port. Image: Twitter

India has supplied two large cargo-moving cranes. It will deliver two more in the coming weeks before the facility’s expected ceremonial opening.

New Delhi is already promoting the port’s potential humanitarian role, noting it was used to send emergency shipments of wheat to Afghanistan during the Covid-19 crisis and pesticide to Iran to deal with a recent locust infestation.

Pakistan is getting worried about losing regional trade

India’s renewed commitment to Iran via Chabahar is already setting alarm bells ringing in neighboring Pakistan, which is already losing regional trade mainly from Afghanistan to Iran despite US sanctions.

India and Pakistan recently announced a renewed commitment to an existing 2003 ceasefire over contested Kashmir. That move that should allow both to focus more on economic linkages than strategic rivalry.

Chabahar has seen limited operations since 2019, a result of US restrictions imposed on Iran’s energy exports. The port handled a mere 123 vessels with 1.8 million tons of bulk and general cargo from February 2019 to January 2021. It is well below its operating capacity, according to reports.

That’s set to change. New Delhi ultimately aims to link Chabahar to its International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). It is a project initially proposed by India, Russia and Iran in 2000 and later joined by 10 other Central Asian nations.

Some see the INSTC as a less-monied rival to China’s BRI. Belt-Road-Initiative has invested heavily in Pakistan’s road, power and trade infrastructure. And including huge multi-billion dollar investments at Gwadar port some critics have likened to a debt trap.

Security concerns sparked by armed groups in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where Gwadar is situated, have hindered progress on various BRI projects and pushed Pakistan to recently ramp up security at the Beijing-invested port.

From India to Europe – cheaper and faster

INSTC envisions a 7,200 kilometer-long, multimode network comprised of shipping, rail and road links. It is connecting India’s Mumbai with Europe via Moscow and Central Asia. Initial estimates suggest INSTC could cut current carriage costs by about 30% and travel times by half.

That means more trade and port activity for Iran and less for Pakistan. Last year Iran has already usurped 70% of Pakistan’s recent transport business at Karachi port.

Landlocked Afghanistan has traditionally relied on Pakistan as its gateway to international shipping routes. However, recent trends indicate that as much as 70% of Afghan transit trade is now handled by Iran.

If India presses ahead as planned with INSTC, Pakistan would be the ultimate loser as Afghan and Central Asian transport business diverts increasingly to Chabahar and away from Karachi and Gwadar.

“Iran had already started working on a 600-kilometer-long railway line connecting Chabahar port to Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province close to the Afghan border,” he said.

India has already lined up $1.6 billion for the project to facilitate the movement of goods to and from Afghanistan via Iran. India also plans to invest $2 billion to develop supporting infrastructure including the Chabahar-Hajigak railway line in Afghanistan.

Many Afghan traders are plugging into Chabahar

Many Afghan traders still rely on traditional transit routes through Pakistan. However, many are plugging into Chabahar’s comparative cost-effectiveness and speed in handling transit cargo, analysts say. The same is true for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other landlocked Central Asian countries looking for alternatives to Pakistani ports.      

Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has recently fallen from around $2.5 billion to $1 billion annually due to wide-ranging differences over the now expired transit agreement.

“Afghans want Pakistan to allow Afghan wheelers to enter into Indian border areas through Wagah for transportation of Afghan export goods and on return upload import consignments from India,”

“Pakistan on the other hand argues that the APTTA is a bilateral arrangement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and not a trilateral agreement to facilitate mutual trade between India and Afghanistan,”.

Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port and so far consists of Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti terminals. Each of which has five berth facilities. The port is located in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province. It is about 120 kilometers southwest of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where the China-funded Gwadar port is situated.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement for the strategically-located Chabahar to give New Delhi access to Kabul and Central Asia without having to travel through Pakistan.

Chabahar is regional project unlike Gwadar which is China oriented

The original plan committed at least $21 billion to the so-called Chabahar–Hajigak corridor, which then included $85 million for Chabahar port development, a $150 million credit line to Iran, an $8 billion India-Iran MoU for Indian industrial investment in a Chabahar special economic zone, and $11 billion for the Hajigak iron and steel mining project awarded to seven Indian companies in central Afghanistan.

Unlike Chabahar, which is designed more to serve the economic and trade interests of the wider region, Gwadar is more tilted toward Beijing’s ambitions, analysts and traders say.

Gwadar port’s planned capacity will accommodate a massive 300 to 400 million tons of cargo annually, comparable to the combined annual capacity of all Indian ports. It also dwarfs the 10-12 million tons of cargo handling capacity now planned for Chabahar.

In another comparison, the largest US port at Long Beach, California, handles 80 million tons of cargo, about a quarter of what Gwadar could handle upon completion of a project that is designed largely to receive and move China’s, not the region’s, trade.

The North-South corridor and the Eurasia canal

From Russian point of view

The accident of the container ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal, which blocked this important transport artery for almost a week, sparked discussions on alternative routes for the delivery of goods from Asia to Europe. One such alternative is the so-called North-South corridor and the associated Eurasia Canal project. They are able to connect the center of the continent and the Gulf region with the markets of Europe.

At the same time, the implementation of these logistics projects is impossible without Russia. Why are both routes interesting for world trade?

Nursultan, move the sea!

The agreements on the implementation of the North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) project – from the Indian port of Mumbai (Bombay) through the Persian Gulf, Iran, the Caspian Sea and further through our country up to the ports of the Baltic Sea and western borders – were signed by Russia. India and Iran in St. Petersburg back in 2000. The 7200 km route avoids the passage of the Suez Canal and the roundabout route around all of Europe, transporting goods from India and the Persian Gulf countries through Russian territory directly to the markets of Northern and Western Europe.

In turn, the Eurasia canal adjoins the North-South corridor and brings it to the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe. This navigable canal should connect the Caspian and Azov Seas and pass through the bitter-salt lake Manych-Gudilo and the Manych depression. The maximum height of depression is only 20 meters above sea level.

The idea of ​​”Eurasia” arose much earlier, in the 1930s, even before the construction of the Volga-Don Canal. Such a deep-water channel would allow not only river-sea vessels to enter the Caspian, but also large sea-going ships. For the first time in modern times, the idea of ​​building a canal was returned at the interstate level in 2007. It was during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Both projects are not purely maritime transport routes. Rather, they are similar to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which uses Eurasian connectivity across inland seas, roads, and railways. So-called “combined” transport corridors. Such corridors include not only port-to-port maritime transport. They also include significant land sections that complement maritime transport.

Benefits for Kazakhstan

In the usual comparison, of course, road and rail transport lose out to sea transport. In case of combined transport, direct comparison often does not work. Take Kazakhstan: this country is located in the very center of Eurasia – and in one way or another it is forced to rely on roads and railways to trade with the world. And the closer the conditional sea comes to the borders of Kazakhstan, the easier and cheaper it will be for Astana to send its goods for export and receive imported goods from abroad.

By itself, the Caspian Sea is unsuitable for this: it is an isolated seawater that does not communicate with the World Ocean by deep-water transport. But if you connect the Caspian with the Black Sea, which already has access to the ocean routes through the Bosphorus, and provide rail transportation to the Persian Gulf region, then Kazakhstan’s entry into the world market will be much easier.

Ukrainian rake

At first glance, Russia’s interest in the North-South corridor and the Eurasia channel is not so obvious. After all, let’s say, cargo from Central Asia, which today goes to Europe on our railways, will then be sent directly by sea vessels from the Caspian ports belonging to Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan. After that, the sea vessel will transport them either to the ports of Iran, or straight to Europe through “Eurasia”.

However, there is a certain flaw in this logic. The geographical advantage should not be abused. This is clearly shown by the example of Ukraine. Ukraine, being a practical monopoly on the transit of Russian gas to Europe in the mid-1990s, completely squandered this unique potential in less than 30 years. Russia simply built bypass routes around Ukraine.

The development of the future logistics of the Caspian region can follow the same logic. There is an alternative version of the shipping channel between the Caspian and the Black Sea. That should pass through Azerbaijan and Georgia, along the valleys of the Kura and Rioni rivers. The British even tried to dig such a canal in the early 1920s. However, the annexation of Menshevik Georgia to Russia closed the possibility for its construction. Today such plans are cherished by Turkey. Turkey wants to link Central Asia with its territory through Azerbaijan and Georgia, and in the future through Armenia.

Iran as counterweight to Turkey

If Russia retains control over important sections of the North-South corridor in cooperation with Iran and provides a deep-water sea route to the Caspian through its territory, this will not only reduce the cost of logistics for a number of Asian countries, but also reliably “tie” them to Russia. In addition, Iran is a natural counterweight to Turkey in the region, which was clearly demonstrated during the recent aggravation of the Karabakh conflict.

As for our railways, you don’t have to worry about them. There is quite enough work for Russian Railways within the framework of the increased trade turnover along the North-South corridor. The decrease in trade turnover due to sea vessels passing through Eurasia will be offset by canal fees collected from them.

The main effect of the implementation of both projects may be the creation of two Russian transport corridors at once. They will compete with all the “southern” routes from Asia to Europe. Including the route through the Suez Canal and around the Cape of Good Hope. Russia becomes not only a transport hub, but also a guarantor of stability for many countries of Eurasia. Such an intracontinental transport corridor is much less dependent on unexpected changes in the geopolitical situation. Or the West’s desire to grossly interfere in world trade through sanctions, embargoes and other restrictions.

Author: Alexey Anpilogov


On June 15, 2007, at the 17th Foreign Investors’ Council Meeting in Ust-Kamenogorsk, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan proposed the Eurasia Canal project to build a canal connecting the Caspian and Black Seas. The project was estimated to cost US$6 billion and take 10 years to complete.[7][8]

Wikipedia

If built, the nearly 700 km (430 mi) Eurasia Canal would be four times longer than the Suez Canal and eight times longer than the Panama Canal. President Nazarbayev stated that the canal would make Kazakhstan a maritime power and benefit many other Central Asian nations as well.[7] Russia has proposed an alternative plan to upgrade the existing Volga-Don Canal.

Wikipedia