According to a report published on Wednesday by the Russian Interfax news agency, Russia and India are considering increasing the use of the Arctic-passing Northern Sea shipping route.
The “reliable and safe” transportation of goods via the Northern Sea Route utilizing Russian and Indian ports was a major topic in talks with Indian officials when Russia’s minister Alexei Chekunkov, was in India, according to Interfax. According to the news agency, Chekunkov said that the cost of shipping a container from Vladivostok to India is a one-third lower than that from Moscow.
Russian President Putin’s initiative
One of President Vladimir Putin’s signature initiatives is the Northern Sea Route, and he once stated that the nation wants to support year-round shipping along this shipping route. The nation has also made significant investments in the Russian Arctic’s NSR infrastructure.
The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is the sea route that travels the quickest distance between Russia’s European region and the Far East. The country’s ambitions for the development of the NSR have grown over time, with the country setting a goal of moving 80 million tonnes along the route by 2024.
India overtook China as the biggest consumer of Russian oil in 2017, despite not explicitly denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at the meeting that Russia welcomes other nations’ interest in using the NSR and will not impose any restrictions on them.
“Such interest is appreciated. It’s critical to remember that we are observing events in other nations, where some people are worried that Russia is actively expanding the Northern Sea Route. And there are rumors that claim we’re going to limit someone. That is untrue. No one will be restricted by us,” Putin stated.
He mentioned that Russia wanted this project to be constructed strictly in adherence to international maritime law.
The president declared that, we are quite content with everything, and the more efficiently this route is utilized by all interested countries, the better. Putin claims that the nation welcomes interest in the NSR from European nations as well as from China, India, and other Asian nations.
Northern sea route’s confrontation
The current thick ice prevents use during the winter. But Moscow plans to start year-round shipping by the end of this year, encouraged by the temperature rise of the Arctic. Also, since the Arctic route is shorter, many experts predicted that there would be a huge increase in transhipment along the NSR, with ships passing via the Atlantic to the Pacific.
“Contrary to those assumptions, the Arctic traffic is indeed growing. But it’s not a transit vehicle. According to Frédéric Lasserre, a professor in the Department of Geography at Laval University in Quebec City and an expert on Arctic shipping, it is destination traffic.
Ships traveling to the Arctic to complete an economic task make up the traffic. Whether it be ships involved in the extraction of natural resources, tourism, or fishing. It is not taking off in terms of transit traffic,” Lasserre continues.
A large portion of the transhipment along the route is driven by vessels leaving for or arriving from Murmansk. There is very little actual transit from Europe to Asia. However, a decade later, the North-West Passage has very little cargo transit. As many had predicted, this traffic did not increase dramatically.
“There are a number of causes for that. The route’s continued reliance on the seasons is the main factor. In order to attract shipping companies this kind of traffic, regular transit traffic needs to become much more regular, according to Lasserre.