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15 Dec, 2023 18:11

Russia can expect decade of ‘big projects’ – Putin

Moscow plans to develop major infrastructure systems that will link the country to South and Eastern Asia, the president has said
Russia can expect decade of ‘big projects’ – Putin

The coming decade will see Russia greatly expanding its infrastructure, particularly in railroad transport, President Vladimir Putin told a major industry gathering in Moscow on Friday. The planned projects will have an impact not only on Russia's logistics network but across the entire Eurasian continent, the president added.

Russia has been actively developing economic and trade ties with nations in Asia and elsewhere, amid unprecedented sanctions from the US and its Western allies, over Moscow’s ongoing military conflict with Ukraine. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service (FTS), trade with Asia accounted for around 70% of Russia’s total trade turnover between January and September 2023.

Russia’s export to Asian nations grew by 10% from $205.4 billion to $226.6 billion over the first nine months of 2023 and Russia’s export to Africa rose by more than 50% from $10.1 billion to 15.6 billion, the FTS said. The nation’s export to Europe fell by 70% from $216.7 billion to $65.3 billion over the same period, it added.

“The upcoming decade will become a decade of major construction [works], big projects, including in the field of railroad transport,” the president told the gathering. Russia plans to modernize its key railway lines – including the 9,289-kilometer-long Trans-Siberian railway. The country also plans to expand transport infrastructure in its ports on the Azov, Black, and Caspian Seas, he said.

The nation is aiming at developing a “globally competitive transport services market” and building continent-wide transport corridors, Putin announced, adding that Moscow was actively cooperating with its foreign partners, including China, India, and Mongolia.

The new railway lines – including the Arctic and the Pacific ones – will help Russia link its already vast transport infrastructure to major logistics hubs in southern and eastern Eurasia, the president said.

“These projects would form a major space for long-term development of entire industry branches – huge Russian territories – and would greatly benefit our nation and its citizens,” he added.

The Russian leader made special mention of plans to further expand the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). A network of sea, rail, and highway routes spanning over 7,200km, the INSTC was initially designed to link the Russian city of St. Petersburg, on the Baltic Sea, to Mumbai in India through the Caspian Sea and Iran. The project, the genesis of which dates back to 2002, involves a total of 11 nations.

The INSTC is designed to halve the time needed to ship goods from the Baltic to India and double cargo turnover on the route. It is expected to be twice as efficient as moving the goods through the Suez Canal, according to some media reports.

Now, according to Putin, Russia plans to further connect the INSTC to Murmansk, linking the Indian transport hubs to a major Russian sea port in the Arctic. “Shipping goods from Murmansk to Mumbai would only take 15 days,” Putin said on Friday, adding that it would be four times faster than it is now.

Another group of projects is aimed at creating an additional railway network linking Russia’s far eastern regions to northern ports on the Taymyr and Yamal peninsulas. These new roads would partially relieve the Trans-Siberian railroad and create a “major logistical hub in the Urals and Siberia,” the president revealed.

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