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After completing test voyage, India, Russia to dive deep before unveiling Chennai-Vladivostok sea route

India and Russia recognise the importance of connectivity initiatives, including the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Eastern Maritime Corridor or the Chennai-Vladivostok Corridor (Image courtesy: FESCO)

As trade and economic activities between India and Russia continue to rise, the two countries are now looking to operationalise the sea route between Chennai and Vladivostok through the much talked about Eastern Maritime Corridor. According to Russian Consul General in Chennai Oleg Avdeev the first test voyage has already been undertaken. The voyage was completed in just 17 days, he said.

The project is also in line with the Narendra Modi government’s thrust on port led development.

The corridor, once operational will significantly reduce the distance between the two countries, leading to reduction in cost as well.

“The discussion of implementing the project for relaunching the Vladivostok-Chennai maritime corridor is at the closing stage of coordination,” Russian Consul General in Chennai Oleg Avdeev told TASS news agency.

“This is of mutual interest because the [corridor’s] restart will give a major impetus to bilateral trade development,” he added.

For India, the Russian Far East (RFA) which is rich in oil, natural gas, iron ore, coal, wood and coal among other things has been in focus.

The two countries have been exploring ways to jointly develop hydrocarbons in RFA and also on the Arctic belt.

The corridor will not only boost trade between India and Russia through Northeast Asia, but also aggravate China’s security concerns in the South China Sea and its grander aspirations with the Maritime Silk Route, Institute for Security and Development Policy said.

The region is also rich in diamond, gold and silver and India being one of the largest exporters of jewellery, the precious metal segment will also be critical for New Delhi.

The NITI Aayog and the Ministry for Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in September 2019 with the aim to boost strategic partnership between New Delhi and Moscow. As per the MoU, both sides agreed to prepare a programme for the development of the Russian Far East and Arctic region for 2020–25.

The Invest India — the nodal body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, facilitating investments in the country, noted that the RFE can fulfil India’s need for resources and provide an undeniable strategic advantage.

However, implementation and specific time bound measures will be now key.

Earlier this month, Russian energy firm Gazprom, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and PipeChina signed an agreement for construction of a gas pipeline in the Far East. The pipeline will facilitate exports of Russian gas to China.

Also read: India exercises financial sovereignty, refuses to pay for Russian oil in Chinese Yuan