Rasht-Astara railway link is considered to be a crucial linkage corridor, 162 km railway, along the Caspian Sea coast to connects Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. Which aims to connect Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, India, and other nations via rail and water. According to Russia, this route can compete with the Suez Canal as a crucial global economic route. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi oversaw the signing of a deal to finance and construct an Iranian railway line. This railway line is part of the developing international North-South Transport Corridor. The international North-South Transport Corridor plays a vital role in enhancing connectivity between Iran and Russia. This corridor serves as a strategic trade route, facilitating efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods, while promoting economic cooperation and regional integration. By providing a direct and shorter route, it reduces the transportation time and costs, benefiting businesses and industries in both countries.
The purpose of the network is to increase trade between the involved countries. The route is overland between Russia and Iran; after which it turns into a sea route to India. The corridor is framed as an alternative to the Suez Canal.
Moreover, the corridor strengthens diplomatic ties and fosters cultural exchanges, promoting a broader sense of connectivity and collaboration between Iran and Russia. The Rasht-Astara railway is set to become a part of the unique North-South transport artery. This transport corridor will significantly diversify global traffic flows by providing an alternative route for trade and transportation. This agreement represents a significant and strategic advancement in the cooperation between Tehran and Moscow.
The International North–South Transport Corridor is a rail, road and ship network linking Russia to India. The purpose of the network is to increase trade between the involved countries. The route is overland between Russia and Iran; after which it turns into a sea route to India. The corridor is framed as an alternative to the Suez Canal. Shipments along the corridor between Russia and India by way of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.
Russia and Iran have been compelled to reinforce their political and economic relationships due to Western economic sanctions imposed on both countries. Both nations consider these sanctions to be unwarranted. The development of their bilateral connections, which are founded on the ideals of good neighborliness, respect for one another, and consideration of one another’s interests, is a top priority for both Russia and Iran. The accomplishment of this big project’s cooperation demonstrates the high standards and constructive, reciprocally beneficial character of Russian-Iranian ties.
The international North-South Transport Corridor holds immense geopolitical and geo-economic significance for connectivity between Iran and Russia. The corridor holds geopolitical significance as serves as a vital link connecting the Persian Gulf in the south to the Caspian Sea in the north, bypassing landlocked regions.
The international North-South Transport Corridor holds immense geopolitical and geo-economic significance for connectivity between Iran and Russia. The corridor holds geopolitical significance as serves as a vital link connecting the Persian Gulf in the south to the Caspian Sea in the north, bypassing landlocked regions. This provides an alternative route that reduces dependence on traditional maritime routes and diversifies transportation options, enhancing the geopolitical position of both Iran and Russia.
It provides enhanced regional integration, as the corridor promotes regional integration by connecting multiple countries, including Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, and India. This fosters economic cooperation, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic relations among these nations, contributing to a more interconnected and collaborative region.
The corridor has massive trade and economic benefits because the corridor facilitates the transportation of goods, including energy resources, agricultural products, and manufactured goods, between Iran and Russia. This enhances bilateral trade and creates new economic opportunities for both countries, as well as for other nations involved in the corridor. The improved connectivity provided by the corridor enhances economic integration and development along its route. It stimulates infrastructure development, trade facilitation, and investment opportunities, leading to economic growth and prosperity in the regions through which it passes.
The corridor enables energy cooperation and transportation of energy resources, such as oil and gas, between Iran and Russia. This strengthens energy cooperation, allowing for energy diversification and energy security for both countries, while also benefiting other nations along the corridor. The corridor strengthens international relations and diplomatic ties between Iran and Russia, as well as with other participating countries. It provides a platform for dialogue and collaboration, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation on various regional and international issues of common interest.
The corridor provides a transit route for Central Asian countries, as The corridor offers a passage for landlocked Central Asian countries, providing them with an efficient and cost-effective transportation link to access international markets via Iran and Russia. This contributes to their economic development and trade expansion.
Hence, the international North-South Transport Corridor serves as a key enabler of connectivity, trade, and regional integration between Iran and Russia, bringing geopolitical and geo-economic advantages to both nations and the broader region.
Pakistan has expressed certain reservations regarding the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), citing concerns and considerations that impact its participation in the project. These reservations stem from a variety of factors, including geopolitical, economic, and strategic considerations.
Pakistan has security concerns as Pakistan has voiced it’s concerns about the security of goods and transportation infrastructure along the INSTC route. Given the prevailing security challenges in certain regions through which the corridor passes, Pakistan emphasizes the need for robust security measures to ensure the safe passage of goods and to protect investments.
With the consideration of the tumultuous regional dynamics, Pakistan carefully evaluates the potential impact of the INSTC on its relations with neighboring countries and regional dynamics. Balancing geopolitical considerations, Pakistan seeks to ensure that its participation in the corridor does not adversely affect its relationships or create any imbalances in regional power dynamics. Pakistan scrutinizes the economic viability of its involvement in the INSTC. The country assesses the potential trade benefits and economic gains, weighing them against the costs, logistical challenges, and competing transportation routes to determine the overall viability and benefits of active participation.
Concerns about connectivity alternatives, Pakistan considers its existing and planned transportation connectivity projects, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as potential alternatives or complementary initiatives to the INSTC. It examines the overlap or potential synergies between different connectivity projects and evaluates their relative advantages.
Pakistan assesses the strategic alignment and compatibility of the INSTC with its broader foreign policy objectives and national interests. This evaluation includes analyzing potential implications for its relationships with regional and global partners, as well as the alignment of the corridor with Pakistan’s broader economic and development plans.
Pakistan’s reservations about the INSTC do not necessarily mean a complete rejection of the initiative. Instead, they reflect a cautious approach that seeks to balance national interests, security considerations, and economic viability. Pakistan continues to engage in discussions and negotiations with relevant stakeholders to address its concerns and explore potential avenues for collaboration within the framework of the INSTC.
Asma Khan Durrani is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defence and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47 Mailed @ email@example.com