According to a report by Russia’s Interfax agency on Wednesday, Russia and India are exploring options to expand the usage of the Northern Sea shipping route, which passes through the Arctic, including the possibility of constructing processing facilities. Alexei Chekunkov, Russia’s minister for the development of the Far East and the Arctic, held discussions with Indian officials during his visit to India, with a focus on the “reliable and safe” transportation of goods via the Northern Sea Route, using Russian and Indian ports.
Chekunkov stated that “the cost of delivering a container from Vladivostok to India is a third lower than the cost of shipping a container from Moscow,” as per Interfax. India, which has not explicitly denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was the largest purchaser of Russian oil after China in 2022.
Russia aims to turn the Northern Sea Route, which is the shortest shipping route between East Asia and Europe, and runs along its northern coastline, into a significant shipping lane, and has invested substantially in the region’s infrastructure. The shipping route is not utilized in winter because of the thick ice, but Moscow intends to begin year-round shipping by the end of this year, encouraged by the warming of the Arctic.