India and Russia seek to chart new course in maritime cooperation, eye strategic transport corridors
India and Russia also look at capacity-building amidst shifting geopolitics
Adding a new dimension to their bilateral relations, India and Russia have taken the initiative to bolster their maritime ties. This collaborative effort will see the exploration of new transport corridors, particularly the Northern Sea Route and the Eastern Maritime Corridor that connects Vladivostok to Chennai.
The profound implications of this partnership are two fold; it paves way for the strong strategic partnership shared by the two nations while hinting at the changing dynamics of global trade routes.
The possibility of using these new transport corridors figured in comprehensive discussions between India's Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal and Russia's Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic AO Chekunkov at the Pavilion of Kamchatka Territory, “Far East Street” in Vladivostok, Russia on Wednesday (September 13, 2023).
During the meeting, both the leaders discussed a wide range of items of maritime communication between India and Russia to widen maritime cooperation including the possibility of usage of new transport corridors like the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as well as the Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC) between Vladivostok and Chennai, India's Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said.
The discussions, which were both cordial and constructive, reflects the longstanding relationship that New Delhi and Moscow have maintained for decades.
In addition to exploring new transport routes, both countries have set their sights on capacity-building in the maritime domain. A significant outcome of the Vladivostok meeting was the decision to equip Indian seafarers with specialized skills required for navigating challenging Polar and Arctic waters. This training program will be facilitated by the Russian Maritime Training Institute located in Vladivostok, known for its state-of-the-art simulator facilities and a history of maritime excellence.
Speaking on the partnership, Sonowal remarked, "The relationship between Russia and India has deep historical roots and is based on mutual respect and shared interests. We remain committed to maintaining strong ties and fostering strategic cooperation across various sectors".
He added that the knowledge exchange from an Indian team's visit to Russian ports earlier this year was invaluable.
"With the support from the Russian government, our team visited the ports of Vladivostok, Vostochny, Nakhodka and Kozmino in May, 2023, which helped us gain insights and collaboration forged during the visits to these ports has contributed to our understanding of requirements for the full-scale operationalisation of the Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC)," Sonowal explained.
The visit not only provided insights into the operational dynamics of the Eastern Maritime Corridor but also underscored the potential this corridor holds for fostering trade and connectivity. A proposed workshop in Chennai will discuss the operationalisation of the EMC. "We envision to involve pertinent stakeholders involved in the trading and transportation of potential commodities such as coking coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas along this corridor," the Union Minister added.
In response, Russian Minister Chekunkov reiterated Russia's commitment, emphasizing the nation's keenness to "develop and deepen ties with Indian partners, especially in the Far East." He went on to speak about the abundant resources in the Far East, including coking coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas. He highlighted Russia's anticipation of India's growing infrastructure capabilities, which would enable smoother trade exchanges between the two countries.
Significantly, the forthcoming Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) in 2023 will further emphasize this relationship. Russia's participation in this summit is keenly anticipated and will follow the collaborative spirit both nations are endorsing.
In conclusion, it's pivotal to recognize the larger strategic implications of India and Russia's reinforced maritime cooperation. In a world marked by shifting alliances and emerging powers, India's decision to strengthen its maritime ties with Russia stands out as a testament to its strategic vision and diplomatic prowess.
This maritime partnership is not just about exploring new trade routes or enhancing economic exchanges; it's a symbol of India's global aspirations and its commitment to fostering ties based on mutual respect and shared interests. In a world that's rapidly evolving, collaborations like these are the bedrock of stability, promising a future of collective growth and shared prosperity.