Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has expressed his support for alternative trade routes to the Suez Canal in Egypt and the Silk Road used by China.
“We need to build a safe and efficient road between Europe and China,” Shoigu told RBK TV. “The need to create such a transport corridor has become important, especially with the developments in the region, including the current situation in Afghanistan.”
He added that this is of “great importance to Russia, as it will create production centres in Siberia, where the modern corridor is.”
However, the Russian minister pointed out the difficulty of implementing such a project due to the costs of the complete modernisation of the Trans-Siberian Railway. It would also require the construction of new bridges and tunnels.
A few weeks ago, media reports said that Russia is working to complete the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which would shorten the distance and costs of transporting goods and merchandise from Asia to northern Europe.
The need for an alternative route to Egypt’s Suez Canal was highlighted when the canal was blocked for nearly a week in March by a giant container ship. When the MV Ever Given ran aground it created a log jam of almost 400 ships waiting to pass through the canal, blocking an estimated $9.6 billion worth of trade.