Another piece of the infrastructure puzzle to create the long-planned International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is taking shape.
The INSTC, a project originally launched in 2002 by Russia, Iran and India, is a 7,200 km multimodal network of sea, rail and road for the movement of goods between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. The aim of the corridor is to improve trade connections between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas and Astrakhan. Russia claims that the project could ultimately compete with the Suez Canal in terms of trade flows.
This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi signed a deal to finance and build Iran’s 162 km Rasht-Astara railway line, a key link in the emerging freight corridor.
The railway along the Caspian Sea coast will help connect Russian ports on the Baltic Sea with Iranian ports in the Indian Ocean and Gulf.
The two leaders have also discussed the construction of ships in Iran destined for the Caspian Sea as part of the Corridor, with Putin also saying he would like to invest in Iranian ports.