The Inside Story Of Russia-Iran-India Connectivity

Russia, Iran, and India signed a formal INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) deal in May 2022, aimed at enhancing connectivity between the three countries.

Make no mistake about what the G7’s Hiroshima Communique is all about.

The setting: a city in neo-colony Japan nuclear-bombed 78 years ago by the United States, for which it made no excuses.

The message: the G7, actually G9 (augmented by two unelected Eurocrats) declares war – hybrid and otherwise – against BRICS+, which has 25 nations on its waiting list and counting.

The G7’s key strategic objective is the defeat of Russia, followed by the subjugation of China. For the G7/G9, these – real – powers are the main “global threats” to “freedom and democracy.”

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The corollary is that the Global South must toe the line – or else. Call it a remix of the early 2000s “you’re either with us or against us.”

Meanwhile, in the real world – that of productive economies – the dogs of war bark while the New Silk Road caravans keep marching on.

The key New Silk Roads of emerging multipolarity are China’s ambitious, multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Russia-Iran-India International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC). They have evolved in parallel and may sometimes overlap. What is clear is the G7/G9 will go to the ends of the earth to undermine them.

Map of INSTC (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

All about Chabahar

The recent $1.6 billion deal between Iran and Russia to build the 162-km long Rasht-Astara railway is an INSTC game-changer. Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazpash and Russia’s Minister of Transport Vialy Saveliev signed the deal in Tehran, in front of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and with Russian President Vladimir Putin attending on video conference.

Call it the marriage of Iran’s “Look East” with Russia’s “pivot to the East.” Both are now official policies.

Rasht is close to the Caspian Sea. Astara is on the border with Azerbaijan. Connecting them will be part of a Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan deal on railway and cargo transportation – solidifying the INSTC as a key connectivity corridor between South Asia and Northern Europe.

The multimodal INSTC advances via three main routes: the Western route links Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran-India; the Middle or Trans-Caspian route links Russia-Iran-India; and the Eastern one links Russia-Central Asia-Iran-India.

The Eastern route features the immensely strategic port of Chabahar in southeast Iran, in the volatile Sistan-Balochistan province. That’s the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean.

In 2016, Iran, India, and an Afghanistan still under US occupation signed a tripartite deal in which Chabahar miraculously escaped unilateral US “maximum pressure” sanctions. That was a stepping stone configuring Chabahar as the privileged gateway for Indian products to enter Afghanistan, and then further on down the road, toward Central Asia.

Russia, Iran, and India signed a formal INSTC deal in May 2022, detailing a multimodal network – ship, rail, road – which proceeds via the previously mentioned three axes: Western, Middle or Trans-Caspian, and Eastern. The Russian port of Astrakhan, by the Caspian Sea, is crucial on all three.

The Eastern route connects eastern and central Russia, through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, to the southern part of Iran as well as India and the Arab lands on the southern edge of the Persian Gulf. Dozens of trains are already plying the overland route from Russia to India via Turkmenistan and Iran.

The problem is that in the past few years, New Delhi, for several complex reasons, seemed to be asleep at the wheel. And that led Tehran to become much more interested in Russian and Chinese involvement to develop two strategic ports in the Chabahar Free Trade Industrial Zone: Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Zalantari.

According to UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, the UN is assisting a Russian bank with a SWIFT bypass after it was disconnected as part of Ukraine-related sanctions last year.

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