While Western countries want to close their markets, especially energy, to the Russian state and companies due to the Ukraine war, alternative markets are gaining importance for Russia in foreign trade.
Especially in energy trade, Russia’s exports to China and India have increased significantly, while its interest in the Middle East, Latin America and African countries is also increasing.
Russia’s oil exports to India increased from 3.4 million tons to 37 million tons in the first 5 months of this year compared to the same period last year, and oil exports to China increased from 41 million tons to 52.6 million tons in the first 7 months of the year compared to the previous year. .
The largest trade partner of Russia in the Middle East was the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with a trade volume of 9 billion dollars in 2022, an increase of 68 percent compared to the previous year. Despite being one of the world’s major oil producers, the UAE’s import of approximately 3.2 million barrels of Russian oil in 2022 stands out as a striking factor.
African countries, which come to the fore with their rapidly increasing dynamic population, are increasing their importance among Russia’s important markets, especially in agricultural products.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on August 22 that despite the sanctions, they sent 11.5 million tons of grain to Africa last year, and about 10 million in the first half of this year.
The importance of the Northern Sea Route is increasing rapidly
Shifting its export target markets from Europe to other parts of the world, Russia is accelerating its efforts to develop alternative routes for the shipment of its products.
The Northern Sea Route, which is called Russia’s “alternative to the Suez Canal”, stands out as the route that the Russian government gives the most importance among alternatives.
While 4 million tons of cargo was transported annually via the Northern Sea Route in 2014, this volume increased to 34 million tons last year. The Russian government aims to increase the volume of cargo carried over the Northern Sea Route to over 100 million tons by 2030.
A container ship from Tokyo to Hamburg would need to travel over the Suez Canal for about 48 days, while the same ship would have to travel via the Northern Sea Route for about 35 days.
In recent years, the perceptible thinning of the ice sheet covering the Arctic Ocean has reduced the need for icebreakers, and the ability to make icebreakers for commercial vessels has made it easier for them to sail alone on the Northern Sea Route.
In the news in the Russian newspaper Kommersant, it was stated that the country’s largest oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom Neft also sent three oil vessels to China via the Baltic Sea in July and August, using the Northern Sea Route.
Alternative route in the south: North-South Corridor
Russia has also accelerated its work on the North-South Corridor route recently.
With the North-South Corridor, it is aimed to reduce the transportation times of cargo going from India to Russia or Europe.
st. Starting from St. Petersburg and passing through Moscow, the corridor will connect the Caspian Sea from Astrakhan to the Iranian city of Bender Enzeli. From here, the corridor will be connected to Bandar-Abbas in the south of Iran by rail, and then it will reach Mumbai in India.
Iran and Russia finally signed an agreement on May 17 for the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, which is seen as an important transportation network for the North-South Corridor.
Putin said that the railway built in St. Emphasizing that he will reduce the cargo transportation between St. Petersburg and Mumbai to 10 days, he explained that the process of developing the infrastructure in the region is carried out jointly with Azerbaijan.