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Transit from Asia to Europe around Russia from the South

Транзит из Азии в Европу обошел Россию с юга

China launched a project alternative “New silk road” — a land transport route China-Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus-Europe. Started, tested and is gaining momentum international transport artery to the South, bypassing Russian territory.

This is “TRANS-Caspian international transport route” (TITR) or the so-called Central corridor — a project initiated with the aim of increasing the transit potential and development of the countries of the Caspian region. He runs to Europe from China through Kazakhstan, the Caspian sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

The highway already serves container service Nomad Express, first we had a pilot, and then really loaded container train.

Officially the project was launched in October this year, when the route was the first container train from China through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey to Prague. And on 25 November the Baku port, the Austrian railway operator ÖBB Rail Cargo and logistics centre Venlo (Netherlands) signed an agreement to increase the volume of freight and the active promotion of the route through the connection to the European freight railway network.

“We expect that within a short period, the route will be very effective, in terms of timing and volumes”, — reported in a press release statement by the Federal Minister of transport, innovation and technology of Austria Andreas Reinhardt.

This route has become so competitive, to attract reverse traffic from Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan in the direction of China had to set the reduction factor.

In General terms, the transport path follows the Western projects that seek to circumnavigate Russia from the South through Central Asia and Turkey.

Does this mean that Russia loses its attractiveness as a transit country? And if you look wider — not lost is our country in terms of cooperation with China opportunities?

Professor of the HSE Alexey Maslov:

— I would not began so to put the question. Here December 2, we launch the gas pipeline “Power of Siberia”, which fought for five years. He was several times in jeopardy, in the end, China still agreed on a price with Russia, we built the gas pipeline.

Plus recently “Rosneft” declared that all of our power supplies in China are filled, that is we reach a peak, which was agreed to — 80 million tons of oil, and this is a subtle hint that we are ready to expand trade with China.

But China has its own policies — this country will never put all his eggs in one basket, that is, never gives any other country to be a monopoly in the Chinese market. This is the tactic, the experts know. In this sense, the Caspian area is an attempt to counterbalance Russia’s influence in the Chinese energy market. Because for the last 2-3 years we broke very seriously. On oil we are as importers on the second place after Saudi Arabia, and certainly will try to challenge the first place. In other words, we a very good position there occupied.

SP: — But we are talking now not about oil and gas, and transport streams…

— And if we turn to traffic flows, China has constantly insisted that he should control the movement of their goods through the transport stream. This is done either through the purchase or establishment of a management of the Chinese company, or loans for construction, there are several schemes that uses China.

For example, if you take the transport route of China-Pakistan-Afghanistan, or the European route — the Czech Republic with Slovakia, and there China has, in fact, a controlling stake.

Russia in such conditions are not agreed. So China, which was interested, for example, an extension of the TRANS-Siberian railway, did not go for it.

SP: we Lose if we some money?

— Actually, of course, lose. But not only we. Many Russian scientists build thinking on the subject: as for China, the most important thing is money, he will agree to let their goods through Russia. But you see, everything is very different. For China is more important than money control. And this is again non-standard tactics. That is, China leads the line, and I don’t see anything amazing. And we ourselves need to build your traffic flows through the EU, through a unified Eurasian space.

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