Wed, 29 Sep 2021

Russia needs to upgrade the Northern Sea Route to make it an international transportation corridor allowing all-season transfer of cargo through the Arctic, the first deputy prime minister says.

"Conditions should be created for [the Northern Sea Route] to become an international transit corridor," Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov said in an interview with Russia 24, noting that in order to achieve this, the country needs to develop the appropriate infrastructure and modernize navigation systems in the area.

"A strong fleet should be established for that, including the icebreaker fleet; strong infrastructure, access ways and port infrastructure should be created. Modern or even cutting-edge communication and navigation systems are highly important," Belousov said, adding that there are also plans to set up a digital platform, enabling shippers to track cargo movement along the way.

He noted that the route's development will require large investments, with the estimated cost of the project amounting to 716 billion rubles ($10 billion), adding that the potential profit from the endeavor would also be big.

"This will allow us to transport up to 30 million tons of cargo per year in transit... By 2024 we should reach 80 million tons, then by 2030 this route should become all-season despite the ice conditions, and transport 150 million tons," he said.

The Northern Sea Route lies along the Russian Arctic coast and Siberia from the Kara Sea east of Novaya Zemlya to the Bering Strait. The route lies within Russia's exclusive economic zone in the Arctic. It is one of three transportation routes linking Russia's Far East with the European part of the country. Russia is set to renovate the entire system of the country's transport corridors by 2030, including the operating railway route, which includes the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian Railways, and a motorway which will connect Russia's border with Finland to western Siberia.

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