At present, India and Russia are linked through sea route passing through the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Baltic Sea, which connects the Mumbai Port to St. Petersburg in Russia. This current maritime route stretches across a distance of 8,675 nautical miles (16000 km) and goods take an average of 40 days to reach either end. So it is only natural that the declaration to operationalize the new water route (Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Route) to interconnect the two nations is making headlines. The Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Route will connect Chennai on India’s east coast with Vladivostok, Russia’s eastern port city. However, this new route is actually not new, Dr Jajati K Pattnaik (the School of International Studies, JNU) writes, Chennai-Vladivostok maritime link was operational between 1967 and 1969.
The route connecting Vladivostok and Chennai sails across the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, and then emerges into the Bay of Bengal and finally cuts across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai. This will reduce the transport time to 12 days, saving more than two third of the time taken by existing route covering a distance of approximately 5,647 nautical miles (10,500 km). Simultaneously, costs are expected to be cut by 30 percent.
India’s trade data reflects an increasing trend of trade between India and Russia rising from 8.1 billion USD in FY in 2021 to 39.8 billion USD in FY 2023. However, the reality behind the rise is the growing trade deficit i.e the imports from Russia are manyfolds higher than the exports from India.This new channel will attempt to tilt the balance favorably in India’s favor and will further provide access to the South-East Asian region, including countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, South Korea, Philippines and Indonesia tapping resources like metallurgical coal, crude oil and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in Russia and explore export opportunities of construction equipment, construction materials, pharma products from the Indian market, unlocking huge trade potential in the blue economy.