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Russia to train Indian seafarers for polar and arctic waters


India and Russia have agreed to train Indian seafarers in the polar and Arctic waters. The decision was arrived at during talks to widen maritime cooperation in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday.

The talks also focussed on the use of new transport corridors such as the Northern Sea Route via the Arctic (Vladivostok-Chennai route).

Discussions on India-Russia maritime cooperation gained momentum when ports, shipping and waterways minister Sarbananda Sonowal met Russian minister for development of the Far East and Arctic A O Chekunkov in Vladivostok on Wednesday. Sonowal is representing India at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Sonowal said the India-Russia relationship has deep historical roots and is based on mutual respect and shared interests.

“We remain committed to maintaining strong ties and fostering strategic cooperation across various sectors. With the support from the Russian government, our team visited the ports of Vladivostok, Vostochny, Nakhodka and Kozmino in May 2023, which helped us gain insights and collaboration forged during the visits to these ports has contributed to our understanding of requirements for the full-scale operationalisation of the Eastern Maritime Corridor,” he said.
The two sides also explored creation of a trans-shipment hub in the Bay of Bengal, ET has learnt. A workshop between Indian and Russian maritime stakeholders will be held in Chennai in October-November to discuss ways to put the Eastern Maritime Corridor in full operation. This will include engaging those involved in the trading and transportation of potential commodities such as coking coal, oil and liquefied natural gas along this corridor, ET has further learnt.The corridor seeks to reduce cargo transit time. The journey from Indian ports to the Russian Far East takes about 24 days, as against 30 days through the port of Novorossiysk in the Black Sea. Officials said this corridor holds immense potential to unlock new opportunities for trade and cooperation for both India and Russia.This dynamic of contacts is the foundation for further strengthening our partnership. Cooperation with the Republic of India is one of the priorities of the international activities of our ministry; we intend to develop relations with Indian partners in the Far East in all areas of mutual interest,” Chekunkov said.The Vladivostok-Chennai route was in operation during the Soviet Union days and after its revival contributed to the growth of India-Russia trade during the past year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to expand India’s footprints in the resource-rich Far East Russia under the ‘Act Far East’ policy. In 2019, when Modi was the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum, he had announced a $1 billion line of credit for Indian projects in Far East Russia.

On Wednesday, both the ministers also discussed a wide range of items of maritime communication between India and Russia to widen maritime cooperation, including the possibility of usage of new transport corridors like the Northern Sea Route, which goes via the Arctic. There are also plans to link this route with the International North-South Transport Corridor.

Russia has several ports along the Arctic and has been keen for India’s presence in both the Arctic and the Far East amid China’s fast growing interests in the region.


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