_ EIR. Berlin, 28 November 2017.
China and Russia have an ongoing collaboration to develop the Arctic shipping infrastructure that will be vital to the Ice Silk Road. In an interview with Xinhua yesterday, Vladimir Remyga, chairman of the Coordination Council for Cooperation with Business Associations of Asia, under the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, discussed progress on the “Silk Road on Ice,” with a focus on integrating five countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to be “conjugated” with the Belt and Road Initiative. This, he proposed will “change the existing world order radically.” The EAEU members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.
In July, President Xi Jinping urged China and Russia to carry out a cooperative effort to develop the Northern Sea Route, to realize an “Ice Silk Road.” The goal is to develop a shortcut route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans through the Arctic, which route is described as the “third arch of the BRI.” It is estimated that when the Northern Sea Route is fully opened, it will cut the cost of maritime trade by between $53-127 billion, by 2020.
Under the bilateral agreement, Russia and China are conducting negotiations on setting up a joint venture company to upgrade ports and overall navigation infrastructure along the shipping route that runs along Russia’s Arctic coast.
The broadening of the Ice Silk Road project, says Remyga, is advancing to practical implementation. A joint feasibility study of the Eurasian Economic Partnership Agreement with the BRI is expected by the end of this year. Earlier this month, he reports, joint construction of the Ice Silk Road was discussed, and has been given significant impetus by Russia’s adoption of a new program of development of the Arctic zone to 2025. A budget of approximately $274 million has been allocated for the project.
Remyga reports that one of the problems in using the North Sea Route is a shortage of ice-class cargo ships. “Construction of the new powerful nuclear icebreakers has begun in Russia,” he said. “The first of three ships, the Artika, will be launched soon, to be followed by Siberia in 2019, and Ural in 2020. But the construction of ice-class cargo ships has not yet begun.” This will be one of the potential projects under a joint company.