Express press service
GUWAHATI: The Russian government is promoting a 7,200 km long trade route that would link St. Petersburg in Russia to Indian ports like Nava Sheva in Mumbai and Mundra in Gujrat. This route will reduce the transport time of goods from the current 40 days (through the Suez Canal) to 25 days.
A trial on this route is currently underway, where a shipment of wood laminates is expected to land in one of the Indian ports in the coming days. Sources point out that this trial began shortly after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited India last month.
The INSTC Corridor is 7,200 km long and will provide maritime, rail and road routes linking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia. “The route appears like this. A container goes overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan (southern Russia). Then the cargo sails via the Caspian Sea to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli and then transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. After that, he takes the sea route to reach Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The main operators will be Iran and Russia,” the sources say.
The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, has promoted this route. “We believe that much remains to be done to improve the region’s transport and logistics architecture. First of all, we are talking about the construction of the INSTC that our colleagues have talked about. I fully agree with these approaches. This is a truly ambitious project, a 7,200 kilometer transport artery from St. Petersburg to the ports of Iran and India,” Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin said during the 6th Caspian Summit held in Ashgabat. The Caspian Summit brought together the leaders of its five members, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
Some experts say INSTC could be a viable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as India’s geopolitical strategy will be in line with this corridor. Furthermore, India has smooth access to Chabahar and its transit facilities, which is crucial for the viability of INSTC. We will have to wait and see if this route would be viable for importing crude or other goods traded between Russia, India, Iran and other countries along the way. At present, Russia is India’s main supplier of defense equipment and there is now an increase in oil imports due to steep discounts. Russia offers rebates of around $35 a barrel.