Russia & Afghanistan Plan To Build Logistics Center For Oil Transit To South Asia

Afghanistan’s acting Industry and Trade Minister Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters that Russia and Afghanistan plan to build a logistics center for oil transit to South Asia, involving Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, in its northwestern Herat province.

Russia & Afghanistan Plan To Build Logistics Center For Oil Transit To South Asia 1

Because of tensions with the West, it may be judged strategically unreliable to continue maritime exports to the Indian Ocean Region over the Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas. For this reason, it is necessary to pioneer a more dependable alternative.

Afghanistan has agreed to establish a logistics hub in its northwest Herat province with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, acting Industry and Trade Minister Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters earlier this month. He added that this would make it easier for Afghanistan to export Russian oil to South Asia via road and rail. The publication stated that despite years of talks, they have not yet reached a strategic energy agreement, but he is very hopeful that Russia will transfer this resource to Pakistan soon.

Even in the absence of one, Russia may find it more convenient to export oil to India and other nations in the vicinity of its namesake ocean through the ports of the Arabian Sea and Gulf of the North-South Transport Corridor, to which Herat is connected by the recently completed railway to the Iranian border town of Khaf. Because of tensions with the West, it may be judged strategically unreliable to continue maritime exports to the region via the Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas. For this reason, it is necessary to pioneer a more dependable alternative.

Moreover, Pakistan’s de facto military rulers may be encouraged to finally strike a strategic energy agreement with Russia rather than procrastinating endlessly as a favor to their American backers if that very alternative is established right outside their door, thereby enabling them to realize their full trade potential. After stating on the fringes of the annual Russia-Islamic World Forum last week that he hopes to ink a transit agreement with Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Russia, Azizi is hopeful that this will happen.

In addition, he discussed with Sputnik the government’s proposal to enable Russian oil exports to South Asia through Afghanistan, which he had previously disclosed to Reuters. Although Moscow has not yet acknowledged its involvement in these plans, this does not imply that it is not interested. As indicated by Azizi’s upbeat public statements, talks with Pakistan are taking on behind closed doors. This provides more context for the potential that Russia may extend an invitation to Pakistan to take part in the “Outreach”/”BRICS-Plus” Summit in October.

This could unintentionally offend Russia’s longstanding strategic allies in India, as explained in the preceding hyperlinked analysis. These three articles—here, here, and here—detail the pro-BRI policymaking faction that has emerged in the last year and the influence it is having on these calculations. The reason this is relevant to the current article is that Pakistan may be invited to the aforementioned conference by the Kremlin in an attempt to boost the likelihood of reaching an energy agreement.

Improved relations between Russia and Pakistan may lead to an improvement in Afghan-Pakistani relations through Russian mediation, setting aside the unintended consequences for Russian-Indian relations should Prime Minister Narendra Modi boycott the summit for any reason. The goal of “The Taliban Envisions Russia Playing A Big Role In The Group’s Geo-Economic Balancing Act” is to preserve Afghanistan’s sovereignty over Pakistan, according to an analysis published in August 2022.

These two analyses, found here and here, describe their growing security crisis, which pushed them to the verge of war in early 2023 and is still a dangerous situation. However, it is beyond the purview of this post to discuss. To facilitate the planned large-scale oil transit via Afghanistan, Pakistan would also need to strengthen its relations with that country if it were to at least partially free itself from American tyranny and finally close its long-negotiated strategic energy deal with Russia.

Naturally, Russia could mediate these talks. Russia enjoys equally good relations with both countries despite the occasional disagreements, such as Moscow’s dissatisfaction with the Taliban’s refusal to form an inclusive government that respects women’s rights and suspicions that Pakistan is arming Ukraine. A positive result would support Moscow’s “Ummah Pivot” of the last few years, which is discussed in more detail here, here, and here (the latter of which focuses on the Afghan component).

To put the above into effect, Russia—or rather, its quickly growing and increasingly powerful pro-BRI policymaking faction—might determine that these advantages surpass the possible loss of soft power in Indian society that would arise from inviting Pakistan to the summit in October. India may have been convinced that there would be no real repercussions from its defiance of US sanctions threats on its recently sealed port agreement with Iran and its reaffirmation of its desire to continue scaling back commerce with Russia.

Recently, GreatGameIndia reported that the Finance Committee of the Iraqi Parliament stated they are calling to ditch the US dollar for oil trade.

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