Iran and Russia seek to circumvent international sanctions together

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi participates in a video conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin to sign an agreement on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, in Tehran, Iran, on May 17, 2023 (REUTERS) (Iran’s Presidency/WANA/)

Iran and Russia, two countries that have grown closer since the start of the war in Ukraine, signed an agreement on Wednesday agreement to create a North-South trade route that circumvents traditional sea lanes and international sanctions.

As a sign of the importance attached to the act, the signing of the agreement in Tehran was supervised by the two presidents, the Iranian Ebrahim Raisi and the russian Vladimir Putinpresent by videoconference.

It is a strategic stage in cooperation” between the two countries, declared Raisi during the act.

Under discussion for several years, this document agrees the construction of a 164 km railway line in the northeast of Iran, between the city of Astara, bordering Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, and Rasht.

The objective of both countries, subjected to strong international sanctions, is to materialize an ambitious North-South corridor project.

Putin talks with Raisi at the agreement signing ceremony from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on May 17, 2023 (REUTERS)
Putin talks with Raisi at the signing ceremony of the agreement from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on May 17, 2023 (REUTERS) (SPUTNIK /)

This network of maritime, rail and land routes of 7,200 km it would allow Russian goods to reach the Indian Ocean without using the western shipping lanes or the Suez Canal.

It also intends, according to its promoters, to redesign the circuits of globalization and counter Western hegemony.

“This unique North-South transport artery, of which the Rasht-Astara railway route will be a part, will contribute to considerably diversifying international transport flows,” Putin said.

break the isolation

“The transport of goods through the new corridor will have a considerable competitive advantage,” said the Russian president.

“For example, The delivery of goods from Saint Petersburg (Russia) to Mumbai (India) will take about 10 days. By comparison, the journey through traditional trade routes takes up to 30-45 days,” he added.

The Russian president predicts that “the volumes of cargo flows will increase considerably,” citing “food and agricultural products,” especially towards “the countries of the Gulf and Africa”.

Tehran expects the Rasht-Astara rail link to be completed in three years.

The signing of the agreement was supervised by Putin and Raisi, present by videoconference (REUTERS)
The signing of the agreement was supervised by Putin and Raisi, present by videoconference (REUTERS) (Iran’s Presidency / WANA /)

The goal is for up to 15 million tons of Russian goods to transit by rail each year by 2030, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is visiting Iran this week.

Tehran and Moscow have accelerated their rapprochement in the economic, energy and military spheres since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 and the imposition of sanctions against Russia by Western countries.

This despite the fact that the two countries sometimes meet in competition in certain markets, such as petrochemicals.

In this context, the United States is especially concerned about the rapprochement in the military sphere, which the two countries are “expanding” to an “unprecedented” level, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

The latter cited in particular Moscow’s desire to acquire more sophisticated Iranian droneshaving received more than 400 drones since August, mainly of the Shahed type, used in Ukraine.

Tehran has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is supplying Russia with weapons, which it calls “unfounded.”

(With information from AFP)

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