Russian Trade Corridors Flourish Under Western Sanctions

As Project Ukraine collapses, the West’s efforts to “isolate” Russia show no signs of slowing down. So far, they have been ineffective, if not counterproductive, but that doesn’t mean they will end.

Transport and logistics continues to be a major target of the sanctions, which means much of this geopolitical struggle revolves around transit and trade, and for Moscow that means minimizing any dependence on countries hostile to Moscow.

Access to the seas has historically been key for Russia and remains paramount, which is summarized here by Glenn Diesen, a Norwegian political scientist who specializes in Russian foreign policy:

Russia’s economic development was obstructed ever since the disintegration of Kievan Rus as it severed Russia from the maritime arteries of international trade. Russia’s “return to Europe” and subsequently becoming a great power was made possible under Peter the Great by gaining access to the Baltic Sea. Containment of Russia has since relied to some extent on denying Russia reliable access to the sea…

In Europe, NATO has been instrumental to expand US control over the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. NATO expansion to Bulgaria, Romania and possibly Ukraine aims to convert the Black Sea into a NATO lake. In the Baltic Sea, NATO membership to Baltic states has extended the reach of the US. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, argued that the pending NATO expansion to Sweden and Finland was a strategic victory because “if we wish, we can block all entry and exit to Russia through St. Petersburg”. The US is also expanding its reach in the high north by converting Norway into a frontline in the Arctic with increased military activity and soon to establish four US military bases on Norwegian soil.

Russia’s goal is to maintain and expand its maritime trade corridors while the West aims to thwart it any way possible. Data from Rosmorrechflot, Russia’s Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport, show that Russia is winning with 2023 seaport cargo turnover increasing by 7.8 percent in the January-October period compared to the previous year. The following is a brief look at each major sea corridor for Russia and western efforts in the same area.

The Baltic & The Arctic

Despite Western declarations that the Baltic Sea is a “NATO lake”, cargo turnover at Russia’s Baltic seaports, including St. Petersburg, increased by 2.5 percent.

Surging oil exports to China played a major role in the increase. Flows from Russia’s Arctic and Baltic ports to China totaled 10.4 million barrels in the 2023 summer season, data from S&P Global Commodities at Sea showed. That total was up from just 484,000 barrels in 2022 and 2.2 million barrels in 2019 when the first commercial shipments began.

This is still only a fraction of the seaborne Russian crude to China shipped mostly south via the Suez Canal.

A big reason both Moscow and Beijing are working to make the Northern route viable is to have multiple connection routes in the case of direct war with the West or if other corridors suffer from local conflict, as is currently happening now in the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The building out of the Northern route is also part of China’s plans to diversify its supply routes in case of any future conflict with the West.

Compared to the Suez route, the Northern route is about a third shorter for Russian Baltic shipments to northern China and about 45 percent shorter for shipments from terminals near the arctic port of Murmansk, but those times can vary due to unpredictable weather and ice.

Still, Moscow is planning on climate change making the route more passable, and Russia has built up its fleet of icebreakers, ships and submarines. According to S&P Global, Russia has three nuclear icebreakers working the Northern Sea Route, plus a nuclear-powered ice-breaking container ship on the route, and other icebreakers under repair. In June, Russia said it planned to build more than 50 icebreakers and ice-class vessels, ports and terminals and other assets over the next 13 years at a cost of $22 billion.

Additionally, according to Silk Road Briefing, “a central hub for building large-capacity offshore structures to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) on a very large scale is underway based in Murmansk. Russia is active in boosting the production of sea-borne super-cooled gas as its pipeline gas exports to Europe, once a key source of revenue for Moscow, have plummeted amid the Western sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine. Those resources are now being directed East, where consumer demand is far greater.”

The determination to make the Northern Sea Route viable has only been boosted by Western sanctions. The effort recently hit an important milestone. From Maritime Executive:

In another demonstration of the efforts to expand shipping along Russia’s Northern Sea Route, the Chinese-owned containership Newnew Polar Bear (15,950 dwt) became the first to reach the Russian port in Kaliningrad after a six-week passage. The governor of the Kaliningrad region Anton Alikhanov hailed the achievement on his Telegram account.

The vessel was acquired earlier this year by a new Chinese shipping company, Hainan Yangpu Newnew Shipping Co., and ushered in the route sailing from St. Petersburg at the beginning of July. She started the return trip from China in late August, reaching Kaliningrad on Tuesday and spending three days on dock. The ship registered in Hong Kong is 554 feet long with a capacity of 1,600 TEU.

She is part of the effort to expand trade between China and Russia and grow traffic along the Northern Sea Route. President Vladimir Putin has ordered the authorities overseeing the route to boost annual shipments to 80 million metric tons in 2024.

“Transport companies plan to make this logistics product permanent. It turns out cheaper and faster than through the Suez Canal,” writes Alikhanov touting the party line on his Telegram account.

The Newnew’s trip was marred, however, by Baltic European states’ allegations that the ship damaged a Finland-Estonia gas pipeline.

Anonymous EU officials have recently floated the idea of stopping ships in the Baltic to check their insurance papers as part of a desperate attempt to enforce the ill-conceived oil price caps. Under that failed plan oil not sold under the $60-a-barrel limit cannot be covered by western insurance for its sea voyage. Some anonymous EU officials are saying that the reason they must stop ships carrying Russian crude is that non-western insurance policies may not be effective in the event of an oil spill.

Meanwhile, Moscow continues full speed ahead with its development in its Arctic, including mining and oil well operations along its 15,000 miles of coastline. Much of the oil and gas from the Russian arctic used to go to Europe. It’s now headed to China and India. India got its first shipment of Arctic liquefied gas last year, and the country’s energy companies are looking at investing in Russian projects there. LB Vardomsky writes at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Economics:

The rapid growth of traffic along the NSR is difficult to overstate. It creates an additional impetus for development of the Far Eastern and Northern regions due to deployment of capacities in shipbuilding, port, and airfield infrastructure and overcoming the isolation of northern territories adjacent to it from the economic space of mainstream Russia. In the context of geopolitical struggle, strengthening of the Arctic vector of development means strengthening Russia’s economic and political influence in the world. Therefore, the NSR should be considered in the context of not only growth of the international importance of hydrocarbon reserves in the circumpolar regions and issues of Russia’s security, but also implementation of the concept of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

The US is trying to play catch up by pouring money into existing bases in Alaska and Greenland and establishing four US military bases on Norwegian soil. Sweden is increasing land forces in its north and expanding military cooperation with Finland and Norway, but Russian economic activity in the Arctic is only expected to increase in coming years, and Moscow considers it an “area of existential importance” where it can use all components in the defense of its interests, including force.

On the icebreaker front, the US fleet consists of two aging ships – the USCG Healy and USCG Polar Star – that have repeatedly suffered mechanical failures, including onboard fires, leaving them unavailable for extended periods of time. Russia currently has at least three dozen icebreakers, while China has increased its count to four, according to High North News. The US Coast Guard icebreaker program is way behind schedule, and the first vessel will not be ready until the middle of 2028, while the second isn’t likely to enter service in the next six years, extending the problem into the 2030s.

Last week the US enlarged its claims in the Arctic beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast into what’s called its extended continental shelf, which would add roughly one million square kilometers and contain many resources like strategic minerals and rare earth elements.

But US claims will be complicated due to Washington’s failure to join the international procedure for delineating claims. According to Arctic Research Professor Abbie Tingstad at the Center for Arctic Study and Policy, US Coast Guard Academy:

Unfortunately, the significance of this step is muted by the implementation and credibility challenges the U.S. will face as a consequence of its continuing failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in which the process for arbitrating ECS claims is laid out, among many other areas of important maritime governance.

Azov-Black Sea

Despite Ukrainian threats to hamper Russian trade in the Azov and Black Seas, cargo turnover grew by 17.2 percent.

NATO continues to be frustrated by Turkey’s unwillingness to apply sanctions on Russia and its refusal to allow passage for NATO warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits into the Black Sea.

The Center for Maritime Strategy sums up NATO’s predicament:

While NATO strains to formulate policy for policing aggression by Russia and lacks any meaningful Naval Order of Battle, Ukraine – with allied support – continues to innovate with ingenuity via development of ad-hoc, uncrewed surface, air, and underwater vehicles (“USV,” “UAV,” and “UUV”) engaged in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (“ISR”) and so called “suicide” missions. Beyond providing a morale boost for Ukrainians and some short-term tactical gains, it is not a sustainable means for prosecuting a littoral warfare campaign, nor is it a path to victory. Three NATO countries have Black Sea coastlines: Romania, Bulgaria, and Türkiye. However, for any policing activity or future hostilities, greater numbers and types of naval assets are required. Conversely, an “Armada” of large, slow, combatant vessels is no solution either, especially given vulnerability within the cramped confines of the Black Sea and the 300 km (186 mi.) WEZ of Russian surface to surface coastal defenses plus fast-moving radius of air to surface weaponry (see Figure 1). Maritime success surely requires the ability to operate freely inside these zones.

NATO is attempting to enlarge its presence according to anonymous officials in a Bloomberg report that NATO members Bulgaria, Türkiye, and Romania are closing in on an agreement to create a joint mine-clearing force in the Black Sea. Bloomberg goes to pains to describe the potential effort as peaceful and non-NATO:

The proposed plan would be peaceful in nature and focused on reducing the danger that errant mines pose to shipping routes through the Black Sea. It would not be considered a NATO effort. It would, however, be the first joint action of Black Sea allies since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

But western neocons are clearly thinking of using Romania and any mine-sweeping as a NATO Trojan Horse in the Black Sea. The mine-sweeping plan sounds very familiar to a recent piece at War on the Rocks by Aaron Stein, a Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and former senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. The report is titled “Side-Stepping Türkiye: Using Minesweepers to Increase Allied Presence in the Black Sea” and here’s the central push:

Minesweeping ships are purely defensive and therefore would not be as risky as providing Black Sea powers with warships for the armed escort civilian ships in the area. This should assuage Ankara and be a point of potential cooperation, rather than yet another point of friction between Türkiye and its NATO allies. Once transferred and in Romania, these ships (and potentially clearance divers) could be used for a series of bilateral exercises between U.S. and European forces deployed in country, in neighboring countries, or flying over the Black Sea.

These bilateral exercises can augment NATO’s minesweeping capabilities and are a way to conduct exercises with NATO members without needing Türkiye’s official sanction.  The obvious benefits of bilateral exercises have tangential benefits for NATO more broadly and could help augment NATO’s regional capabilities in the longer term. The data from these ships’ sensors should be fused with the aerial surveillance intelligence NATO and its member states collect during daily flights over the Black Sea. This data could be used to enhance situational awareness about threats to international shipping and be an important mechanism for the allies to share information about Russian Black Sea military operations currently and long into the future.

During recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, assistant secretary of state James O’Brien outlined the five pillars of the administration’s plan: more bilateral and multilateral engagement, regional security based upon a stronger NATO presence, economic cooperation, energy security, and “democratic resilience.”

Arnold C. Dupoy at the Atlantic Council picks up the ball and runs with it from there, describing in a Dec. 5 article how all countries of the region (minus Russia) will benefit from Washington’s presence as the “honest broker.” Turkey must be brought onboard somehow, he stresses, and the US must provide more support for the other two Black Sea NATO members (Romania and Bulgaria), as well as Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and even Azerbaijan. Dupoy stresses that all this will require “deep pockets” in order to fund and train regional military establishments, as well as offer support and incentives to US companies to move into the region.

He does not mention that the commander of the Turkish navy reiterated in a recent speech that Türkiye does not want NATO in the Black Sea and that any presence of non-Black Sea countries would increase tensions.

Russia is taking note of US designs, and in October Putin ordered Russian jets armed with hypersonic missiles to patrol neutral areas of the Sea.

The Caspian

Turnover at the Caspian basin seaports, which is a transit point for the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), grew by 36.1 percent.

The INSTC refers to the use of several routes through the region, including:

  • The Trans-Caspian running through the Russian ports of Astrakhan, Olya, Makhachkala.
  • The Eastern route, which is a direct railroad connection through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and can hook up to the Iranian railroad network.
  • The Western route which runs through Astrakhan, Makhachkala, Samur, and on through Azerbaijan.

The INSTC, which formally opened in 2002, is meant to provide a shorter route than the Suez Canal from Russia and central Asian countries to Iran, the Persian Gulf, India, and Pakistan.

For years the project was largely a dud, but Western sanctions on Iran and Russia is leading to renewed focus on the corridor.The INSTC still has issues to overcome. For one, there is US meddling at key points in the Southern Caucasus that appears designed to throw a wrench in these trade connection plans.

There is also the problem of infrastructure in Iran, which is difficult to overcome due to sanctions. As PlutoniumKun commented on a recent piece:

A key problem with using Iran as a connection to India is internal infrastructure. The two railway lines connecting the Caspian to the Arabian Sea are mostly single track and go over very difficult terrain, so I doubt if their capacity could be easily increased. So any heavy goods trade would be dependent on a very long and slow road journey across Iran. Most Iranian interest has been in developing east to west, not north to south road/rail investments.

Moscow and Tehran are working to overcome these issues, but it will take time as Lana Rawandi-Fadai details at Modern Diplomacy:

On May 17, an intergovernmental agreement was signed in Tehran between Russia and Iran on the construction of the 162 km long Resht-Astara railway line, which is scheduled for completion by 2027. As a result of this route being launched, the transit of freights over the western corridor of the North-South ITC can be increased to the level of 30 million tons, whereas the overall cargo traffic of the ITC will have to increase from 15 million tons today to 41-45 million tons by 2030, and reach 100 million tons in the longer term. Russia is going to invest 1.3 billion euros in the construction of this line. Once the above-mentioned section of the railroad is completed, a through railroad corridor will be formed from Russia to the southern ports of Iran, which will open direct access to the Persian Gulf for Russian freights.

The Pacific

With closer ties between Russia and the Pacific region, countries, the cargo turnover of Russia’s Far Eastern seaports increased by 5.7%

In September of 2022 China and Russia launched a shipping route between Quanzhou and Vladivostok. The NSR is considered by the Chinese side as a separate cargo (blue) corridor of the”Belt and Road, called the Ice Silk Road. It is becoming an important structure for Russian–Chinese economic and political cooperation. China hopes to extend the NSR from Vladivostok to various seaports on the east coast and connect its Maritime Silk Road through them, thereby closing the maritime transport ring around Eurasia

Moscow and New Delhi also continue to pursue the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor.

With the West effectively cutting itself off from Russia, it has forced Moscow to focus on developing trade infrastructure in places like the far east. LB Vardomsky at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Economics notes the many projects underway there to speed up inland connections from Siberia (which has massive energy reserves and nearly every type of strategic minerals) with Eastern ports, as well as land routes to China:

Such corridors connecting with China are currently being formed in Russia’s Far East; these include Primorye-1 and Primorye-2. The first will connect Harbin via Suifenhe and Grodekovo to the ports of Vladivostok, Nakhodka, and Vostochny, through which transportation will go between Heilongjian province and the southern provinces of China, as well as between this province and the Asia-Pacific countries along the shortest route. The Primorye-2 corridor is designed to provide the shortest access to the sea in Jilin province through Hongchun and the port of Zarubino. To increase the formation of these corridors, the customs regime of the Free Port of Vladivostok was extended to all ports of Primorsky krai. It is quite likely that a new corridor will be formed as a result of construction of a railway bridge across the Amur River near the Nizhneleninskoye–Tongjiang border checkpoint, which will shorten the railway route between Khabarovsk, Birobidzhan, and Chinese Harbin; it will also connect the BAM and Chinese railway network in the shortest manner.


The US continues to engage in a sanctions whack-a-mole game with the growing “shadow fleet” of tankers transporting Russian and Iranian oil. Reuters recently reported that several Greek shipping companies had vowed to stop transporting Russian oil after getting warnings from the US, and this has been treated as a success story. The problem is Greek shipowners are instead just turning around and selling the ships, which only adds to the shadow flotilla. From Foreign Policy:

But now many Greek shipowners have decided that they can profit even more by selling the ships. Sales began soaring in February 2022, and there’s “demand for tankers, for older tankers across the world, particularly in jurisdictions unencumbered by sanctions against Russia,” the trade publication TradeWinds explained. In the 12 months since then, Greek owners have sold some 125 crude and vessel carriers to the tune of $4 billion. In June, Hellenic Shipping News reported that Greek companies had sold 97 tankers so far this year, 25 percent of the world total….

Despite the good news for the sellers, the generous buyers’ identities have mostly not been announced. The buyers now rushing to pay a premium for secondhand tankers are, in fact, decidedly mysterious. Companies based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have bought the most Greek tankers, followed by buyers in China, Turkey, and India. S&P Global Market Intelligence reports that 2022 saw the creation of an astounding 864 maritime companies with an association or link to Russia. My research assistant, Katherine Camberg, has traced more than two dozen formerly Greek-owned vessels to new owners often so obscure that they even lack a mailing address.

While the isolation efforts are an ongoing failure, they continue to produce upheavals in transit and logistics, including reductions in traffic through Russia between the EU and China, an increase in the role of Belarus between the EU and Russia and EU and Central Asian trade, and the increased importance of Turkiye, South Caucasus countries, and Kazakhstan for Russia. The moral of the story from Russia Briefing:

This is indicative that there are enough buyers and sellers globally ready and able to receive and transport goods back to Russia; and are increasing these trade flows even given the current sanctions that the G7 in the main have levied. Global trade, perhaps to the surprise of the West, is not reliant on the West at all. It more than has its own identity, purpose, and an increasingly active trade development space. The lesson to be noted here is that the West is being left behind.

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  1. Jams O'Donnell

    Some further information on the Arctic route:

    “On 1 December 2022, the President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin signed the new law pertinent to the internal seas of the Russian Federation, which in practice limits the freedom of navigation and even forbids foreign military and civil ships from entering and seafaring in the Northern Sea route. . . . In line with the new amendments to this law in the Northern Sea route, which is 5500 km in length, no foreign military or civil ship nor any other foreign country vessel will be allowed to be present without the prior special permission issued by the Russian Federation. In order that Russia issues an official permit, one needs to submit an official request but there is no guarantee that the permission will be issued within the 90 days. Even the permissions already issued can be revoked at any point. All the foreign ships must navigate in the Russian Arctic region under their own national flag and foreign submarines must navigate on the sea surface only. This literally means the embargo on foreign military presence in the Northern Sea route due to a huge number of military and civil facilities being built there. In introducing special seafaring and navigation supervision and controls, Russia will lessen the environmental risks as well.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder what the Russian is for FAFO. Is the US really going to try to do a Freedom of Navigation cruise along the Northern Sea route – all 5,500 km of it? If there is a break down or they get stuck in ice, there is only one country that can go rescue them. Guess which one. Go on, guess.

  2. timbers

    I believe a recent UN vote was 172 – 2. The 2 were United States and Israel. US efforts to isolate itself from Russia are working brilliantly.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      How soon before we can start talking seriously about ending the UN, since it’s effectively toothless in reigning in US belligerence?

      Asking for a friend …


      1. Ludus57

        Thanks, Chris.

        Your friend clearly has a finger on the pulse and knows which questions to ask.

        Season’s Greetings, likewise.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Conor.

    At every town hall to present its results this year, my employer has attributed its sparkling results to, not just net interest income*, but the impact of war on the firm’s commodity and energy related activities. *Without passing high interest to depositors.

    Clients serviced by offices in Antwerp and Athens have been prominent in sanctions busting. The magnates are frequent visitors to Brussels for special pleading. The EU is happy to oblige, even saying these particular communities should not be impoverished.

    War! What’s it good for? Well, bankster bonuses for a start! Next question.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  4. The Rev Kev

    This is a great post as it covers such a wide ranging area. One thing that I would note. The US and it’s allies are trying to box Russia in, to cut off trade routes, to control the seas militarily around it, establishing military bases in the countries surrounding it so that attacks can be launched on it, stationing 150 nukes in countries era it, threatening to stop Russian ships in international waters for “insurance checks”, threatening countries that trade with it even though they themselves trade with it, constantly flying spy planes on their borders, etc.

    You know, when you say it this way, these are the sorts of things that you do when you are actually at war with a country.

    1. JohnA

      Yes, but as the Center for Maritime Strategy explains above, it is all about ‘policing Russian aggression’.

      You really could not make it up. Reminds me of John Lennon’s quote that bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.

        1. JohnA

          If you do some research by reading objective sources, not American and other western mainstream media propaganda, you will find that Georgia started that particular conflict by invading South Ossetia.

                1. Martina

                  Are you sure? There are Finns who know how to read, you know. Finland is part of the EU, and the EU researched what happend in Georgia.

                  There exist EU reports stating that Georgia started the 2008 war by attacking South Ossetia – and attacking Russian peacekeepers stationed there.

                  1. Lamped.usa

                    After reading the report Finland joined NATO and closed all crossings with Russia to make sure no Russian peacekeeper enters its territory. Also Russian peacekeepers did a great job in Armenia.

            1. JohnA

              I suggested you read objective sources. Clearly you do not understand what ‘objective’means. Try harder.

              1. Lamped.usa


                In August 2008, Russian forces launched an all-out invasion of Georgia, which was battling pro-Russian militias in South Ossetia, after they shelled Georgian villages.

                The fighting ended five days later with a European Union-mediated ceasefire but killed more than 700 people and displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians.

                The war’s aftermath saw the Kremlin recognise the independence of South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia, which have since remained under Russia’s military control.

                The conflict marked the culmination of tensions with the Kremlin over staunchly pro-Western Tbilisi’s bid to join the European Union and NATO.

                In March, the prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants for three current and former South Ossetian officials in connection with war crimes committed against ethnic Georgians.

                The alleged crimes included torture, inhuman treatment, illegal detention, violation of personal dignity, hostage-taking and illegal transfers of people.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  According to a South Ossetian from a US source, you are incorrect.


                  From the article –

                  “In recent days, there has been a remarkable change in Western opinion about the August war between Georgia and Russia over my homeland of South Ossetia. The New York Times, the BBC and Human Rights Watch have reported extensive evidence of U.S.-armed and trained Georgian troops attacking innocent civilians using cluster bombs and other banned weapons. The U.S. State Department, which initially backed Georgia strongly, now concedes that Georgia erred in launching its attack, while British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has condemned the Georgian government for its “reckless” attack. Officials of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have come forward to demolish Georgia’s absurd and self-serving claims that it was fighting a defensive war.”

                  My recollection from the time was that US officials, John McCain among them, had told Saakashvili they’d have his back if he tried taking it to the Russians. In true US form, they of course did not, and the Russians kicked his ass after his ill-advised attack. Saakashvili later left Georgia only to turn up in Ukraine, was given citizenship there which was later stripped by Poreshenko. Not exactly the characteristics of a stand up individual if you ask me, when even the corrupt Poreshenko can’t stand him.

                  You aren’t going to fool too many people at this website – we do tend to pay attention.

                    1. hk

                      Look at the dates, mate. Your story is dated May, 2022, right after the conflict in Ukraine began on large scale and when Al Jazeera was taking a decidedly pro-Western line. LAT story is dated 2008, when things were actually going on. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of stories from 2023 how UK and Canada were allied with Nazi-affiliated Ukraine against USSR and how brave SS soldiers were friends of Canada fighting against the Russians, contradicting clearly false stories form 1944 about how SS soldiers were massacring Canadian POWs.

                    2. chris

                      Ooh! It’s a game. I get it. They’re trying to provide examples of logical fallacies to entertain us. Well, thanks awfully much, but around here, we consider the source and what it is says and we try really hard not to be biased. Also, if you have problems with what information is available in domestic US reporting, perhaps you should write to those sources about all the things they choose not to cover because it’s a conflict of interest. Al Jazeera is biased and is paid for by a state actor, but that doesn’t mean what is published by it ahoukd be ignored.

                2. hk

                  Funny that history says otgerwise, unless you also believe Poland launched all out attack on Germany at Gleiwitz on September 1 or that US started war against Japan by shooting at the latter’s warplanes peacefully flying over the neutral country of Hawaii.

                  Georgian attack on Tsikinvali that sparked off that conflict is well documented. The path to the start of the conflict may or may not be so clear cut, but who started shooting first is incontrovertible.

                  1. CA


                    November 7, 2008

                    Accounts Undercut Claims By Georgia on Russia War
                    By C. J. CHIVERS and ELLEN BARRY

                    Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

                    Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm….

                  2. CA

                    Maybe it needs to invite an investment from China to improve the quality of reporting.

                    [ Please be polite. But even more importantly, please do not demean the 1.4 billion people of China. Prejudice is seriously harmful. ]

                    1. Lamped.usa

                      You mentioned that investments from China tend to improve things. I simply went along. Not sure how this can be impolite.

            2. R.S.

              > South Ossetia, autonomous republic in Georgia that declared independence in 2008.

              In 1991. When the Soviet Union was falling apart, Georgia became to be dominated by radical ethnonationalists. “One country, one people, one language” and all that nice stuff. This led to a series of civil wars between the Georgians and the Ossetians, the Abkhaz and the Adjarians. Pretty brutal wars, to be clear, with ethnic cleansing and tens of thousands killed. S.Ossetia was de-facto independent since 1992, it’s just that it wasn’t recognized by Georgia (or the so-called “international community”).

              When Saakashvili came to power (the Rose revolution of 2004), he managed to completely subjugate Adjaria in 2004, and tried to “solve the Ossetian problem” next.

        2. paul

          I have, and remembered that it was a dawn attack by the well, US, educated mikheil saakashvili on south ossetia that prompted the attack.
          I believe he is still a person of interest in Georgia.
          The tie eating bureaucratic monster then continued his life of crime in odessa, where he was found beyond the pale even by his new pals in the ukranian elite.

    2. divadab

      Yup. Genocide Joe and the Incompetents only know one song. And despite having the most expensive instruments, they can’t seem to figure out how to play the song right or even in tune.

    3. Kouros

      I wonder how soon the Baltic Sea would be close for ALL shipping, if the West decides to stop Russian vessels, or vessels going to/from Russia from sailing?

  5. Polar Socialist

    Just a side note, but I believe Diesen makes a couple of mistakes in his understanding of history: Kievan Rus disintegrated because Novgorod got richer, being located along the better trade route along the big rivers. Archaeologs have dug up ridiculous amounts of Arabic coins from Northern Russia, Carelia, Baltic coast and Gotland.

    Also, Peter the Great did not “gain access” to Baltic, he merely focused on that direction by building his capital there. Novgorod had basically controlled the coast of Bothnian Bay and there was “Russian church” in Gotland (for Novgorodian traders) between 1100 and 1400.

    The era when Alexander Nevskyi got his cognomen for beating a Swedish army in a battle pretty much about where St. Petersburg is now. The Swedish being invaders and local Ingrians defending with the help of Alexander.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      The Swedes did conquer Ingria in the early 17th century though. It and access to the Baltic Sea was only regained under Peter.

    2. R.S.

      Nah, I’d say Kievan Rus disintegrated for the usual feudal reasons. AFAIR by the 12th century there were already something like five or six main lineages, all coming from the same noble family (or clan, if you prefer). They kinda recognized the Grand Prince as a nominal ruler, but all had their claims and ambitions. I’d say not unsimilar to Charlemagne’s vast kingdom, which ended up being split between different branches of the family.

  6. Lamped.usa

    — The NSR is considered by the Chinese side as a separate cargo (blue) corridor of the”Belt and Road, called the Ice Silk Road.–

    Russia never had the resources to develop the NSR, and it certainly doesn’t have it now. This means China is investing there. China’s growing control of Russia’s natural resources is what’s going on here. Similar to what China does in Africa and Latin America. The west is not trying to attack Russia, they are positioning themselves to compete with China. Great post though.

    1. John k

      Russia didn’t have the resources to whip us/nato/ukraine combined in a land war in 2022, now they do. Things change when necessity dictates, sometimes quickly.
      Yes, Russia and China are rapidly building the trade corridors necessary to enable Russia to fully switch their trade in critical resources from the west to the east, which is already devastating eu’s industrial base, while slashing China’s input costs. China didn’t drive this, us/eu did.
      Similarly, us/israel are splitting the Muslim world, and perhaps others in the global south, from the west. Imo the west will impoverish itself in the coming resource and mfg poor west vs rest division.

    2. paul

      The west is not trying to attack Russia,

      It certainly does not look like that, what with the endless and pointless sanctions imposed.

      they are positioning themselves to compete with China.

      What do you mean by compete?

      Competition is a rules based comparison of ability between peers.*

      *unless you’re a natal female sportsperson these days

    3. rkka

      A country that makes nuke icebreakers & ice-capable commercial ships lacks resources… And lemme guess… the hapless Russkies will break & run from sheer terror of the wrath of Ukrainian troops driving Leopard IIs & Bradley’s.

      I’m sure that the NSR will develop nicely, despite your heartfelt concern for the well-being of Russians languishing under the Dread Lord Putin for a lifespan that is of unprecedented duration in Russian history.

        1. Snailslime

          Yet the US never developed anything revolutionary new and superior for the purpose.

          Maybe it’s the best technology for the job?

          Nah, just kidding..

          The US obviously would never, ever rely on decades old legacy systems in anything.

          Not in it’s military, infrastructure, any of it’s industries, anywhere.

          And if it did, it totally would keep updating and further improving those technologies from the original, basic version, something no other country would ever even think of doing.

          By the way, Russia inevitably will get to the moon, very soon.

          They obviously very much have the capacity to do so, and they will have little problem in resolving the difficulties of the previous attempt.

          That IS kinda the thing with “America über alles” or general “West über alles” clowns, they seriously think that for some never really explained or explainable (except by just plain old racism) reasons that other countries and people somehow just throw their hands up and despair once there are some problems.

          Well, in the real world people work on problems and solve them, it’s a whole thing.

          Now the question is, when Russia gets to the moon once more (and it is a question of when, not if), will you admit to having talked *Family Blog”?

          1. Lamped.usa

            Point is what the Soviet Union could do, Russia can’t. After 60+ year of progress with computers, materials, communication etc they still couldn’t do it. It shouldn’t have been a difficult task. Yet they failed. The newly built icebreakers may be crushed by the ice and not vice versa.

    4. Adam

      Wow, so those neocons running the USA and EU foreign policies are just trying to compete. If bloodshed, death, and destruction with a massive helping of greed, power madness and corruption is the definition of competition, then sure. But then we definitely have very, very different ideas of what ‘competition’ means.

      1. Van Damne

        Russia, China, and especially Iran will bring joy to the world. Did you ever meet people who live in those countries?

        1. Adam

          Just because these countries have their own issues doesn’t obviate the utter evil that the USA and its vassals are now bringing to large parts of the world. Maybe you should consider the tens of millions of lives we’ve impacted in the most horrific ways possible first. Playing planetary games has real consequences… at least for us average citizens.

    5. chris

      What possible basis do you have for the statement that, “The west is not trying to attack Russia”?

      We’ve had countless senators and bureaucrats telling the American public for the last two years that supporting the Ukrainians to attack Russia is a great investment. We’ve had countless media personalities talk about supporting a ceasefire in Ukraine as “letting Putin win” right up until it became clear how badly Ukraine was losing. We’ve put NATO countries and NATO weapons right on the border with Russia as if the RF is not allowed to have its own sphere of influence or security. We’ve issued countless sanctions against Russia for years. It is highly likely we supported an act of direct industrial sabotage against Russia, but even if that isn’t true, our own people have admitted they knew about plan to blow up the Nordstream and did nothing to stop it. Others have already responded to your claims regarding Georgia. We’re clearly at war with Russia now. We’re just using inefficient patsies and cutouts to execute it because we don’t have support from the US citizenry to do it more efficiently. Given the “success” of our sanctions and weaponry, this may be the best chance we have. In which case, we’re losing the war we started with Russia and even if it turns hot things won’t improve.

      1. Lamped.usa

        — if the RF is not allowed to have its own sphere of influence or security.–

        The issue here is that Ukraine did not want to be a part of Russia’s influence or security. Everything else can be viewed as it’s consequence.

        1. chris

          No…that’s really not it at all. Nor is it something anyone else would accept either. Could Mexico decide that it doesn’t want to be in the US sphere of influence for example?

          Putin has been pretty clear on what the goals are regarding Ukraine and NATO. Ukraine could have stayed neutral and not had to worry about any kind of security related discussion with the RF. Zelenskyy was elected on a peace platform to repair relations with Russia too. The war did not need to happen. But the US insisted that it had to, so now we have around 500 thousand killed/maimed/disabled Ukrainians and millions more fleeing their country and the industry of Europe in ruins. I guess that’s mission accomplished?

        2. Snailslime

          The great majority of Ukrainians also did not want to Join NATO and yet the West installed a regime that forced this through.

          The overwhelming majority wanted good relations and strong economic ties with Russia, the West wouldn’t allow it.

          Tough luck.

          Ukraine could have joined the EU, no problem.

          It was not the population of Ukraine that decided that their country should become a forwardbase and eventually an attack dog for Russia’s enemy.

          If Ukraine had been anything resembling a democracy, none of those things would have happened.

          Zelensky pissed in what the people who voted for him actually wanted and instead submitted to what the US and the Banderite ultranationalists wanted.

          NATO propagandists like to say that Ukraine can’t be a nazi country because the openly fascist and banderite parties are tiny.

          And this is correct, up to a point.

          Nobody voted for the Banderites.

          And yet their influence IS all-encompassing.

          Russia wanted only on thing, that Ukraine should be neutral and not party to the US’ plans to threaten Russia.

          But the US wanted complete controll over Ukraine, for it to be totally and exclusively in it’s sphere of influence, with zero consideration to what people in Ukraine wanted.

          They don’t care if Ukrainians live or die as they have openly admitted many times over, the idea that they would care what they want is nothing but a bad, sad joke.

          So, for one: Ukraine did not want to be part of Russia’s sphere of influence?

          Fine, no need for that, just stay neutral and If you want, Join the EU (though obvious this is always a very stupid idea).

          On the other hand, while I very much suspect that there would have been a majority that would have liked that, though probably not a huge one, what do we exactly mean when we claim that Ukraine wants this or that?

          Because obviously it can’t be the majority of the population, because those definitely needed to have the banderisation and the pro NATO policies forced on them.

          Now of course it is to late and Ukrainians will simply have to deal with the reality of being part of Russia.

          After grieving their lost independence for a while many will probably realize that there are plenty of upsides to the situation.

          Frankly, it cannot possibly be worse than the Banderites and their own corrupt oligarchs plus Black Rock &Co.

          If you have the choice between neutrality and trade and good relations with both sides and becoming part of something that is deliberately designed to harm and antagonize your neighbour, take the first option.

          I don’t think we need to re-iterate how the US would react to Mexico joining an anti US military alliance (that openly braggs about training soldiers to kill Americans and wanting to weaken the US) AGAIN, do we.?

  7. CA

    June 7, 2023

    Russia to invest 24 bln USD to develop Northern Sea Route: PM

    VLADIVOSTOK — Russia has unveiled plans to invest 2 trillion rubles (about 24.58 billion U.S. dollars) in the development of its Northern Sea Route (NSR) over the next 13 years, and a draft law prepared by the government has already passed the first reading in the State Duma, announced Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday.

    Speaking at a strategic session on the “Development of the Northern Sea Route,” Mishustin emphasized the crucial role of the NSR in enhancing transportation connectivity for the remote territories of the country.

    The strategic session evaluated the progress in implementing the NSR development plan approved in August 2022, which includes the construction of more than 50 icebreakers and ice-class ships, the establishment of ports, terminals, emergency rescue centers, and the deployment of an orbital satellite constellation….

    1. Lamped.usa

      24 bln to develop 5600 km of NSR with ports and specialty ships? Over 13 years?? It took 44 bln to buy Twitter.

            1. chris

              Yeah. As Yves says, we need a better class of troll to come into these conversations. Whoever this is needs more than a light bulb to see reality.

  8. John

    The US/NATO piles on sanctions, establishes military bases, checks insurance doing whatever it can to hinder trade. Meanwhile Russia and China busily build the means to better enable commercial shipping by and and by sea. It is not that Russia and China ignore armed forces, quite the contrary, but the focus is on economically useful projects. The US has two decrepit ice breakers. Russia what amounts to a fleet and even China has more and more modern.

    The US does not have a merchant fleet. It has little shipbuilding capacity. It lurches from one project to another, here I am thinking of weapons and weapons systems, never meeting the originally announced deployment targets, ridden with delays, cost overruns, redesign until if anything is eventually produced it is obsolete upon arrival. All this is obvious as are the reasons for it: profit first, production for sale not use, disinterest in rugged quality products in favor of expensive gimmicky ones … no need to go on. This has been amply demonstrated most recently in Ukraine. The difficulty if not inability of the navy to carry out a mission is being put to the test in the Red Sea. Ships that cannot be rearmed st sea? Whose brilliant idea was that? Let me guess. Someone who assumed that the US would remain dominant into the far future. Someone who assumed that the paradigm of the moment would never change. Someone who was more interested in monetizing arming and provisioning.

    The contrast between the economic and commercial emphasis of Russia and China with the one-trick-pony, I have a hammer so everything is a nail tunnel vision of the US is nicely exposed by this article

    1. Karl

      Great observation. I was thinking along these same lines.

      It seems we in the U.S. are going through a period of “animal spirits” deflation (declining investment). Even advanced chip investment in the U.S. lacked “animal spirits” until Congress recently stepped in with subsidies. Renewable energy, EV chargers, etc. also seem to require public subsidies or regulation to get our private sector engaged. This seems to be the case in Europe as well.

      The “animal spirits” of the investor class may continue to wither with the continued erosion of the U.S.’s perceived mojo around the world and at home. Hence the appeal of Trump to many with his MAGA theatrics. Could Trump, for all his posturing, actually raise confidence, stimulate investment, jobs, and demand? My sense is no, given the realities of Trump’s first term. His re-election would just amplify the nation’s despair, imho.

      This leaves the possibility that a younger, more upbeat Democrat like Newsom could galvanize hope — and more “animal spirits” — assuming Biden drops out?

  9. CA

    “Russia never had the resources to develop the NSR, and it certainly doesn’t have it now. This means China is investing there. China’s growing control of Russia’s natural resources is what’s going on here. Similar to what China does in Africa and Latin America….”

    Russia, which has the 6th largest GDP among nations, surely has the resources to develop the Northern Sea Route. China invests by invitation in Russia, Africa and Latin America, but does not “control” other country’s natural resources.,924,132,134,532,534,536,158,546,922,112,111,&s=PPPGDP,&sy=1980&ey=2022&ssm=0&scsm=1&scc=0&ssd=1&ssc=0&sic=0&sort=country&ds=.&br=1

    October 15, 2023

    Gross Domestic Product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) for Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States, 1980-2022


    Brazil ( 3,837)
    China ( 30,762)
    France ( 3,696)
    Germany ( 5,370)
    India ( 11,901)

    Indonesia ( 4,037)
    Japan ( 6,145)
    Russia ( 4,770)
    United Kingdom ( 3,717)
    United States ( 25,463)

      1. Kouros

        Neo-colialism is what US did with Russia during Yieltsin time… The Chinese investments in China have totally different specs…

          1. Kouros

            During Yieltsin time, US energy company that “invested” in Russia paid no royalties and, and, on top of that were taking money from the Russian government for their investments… I guess, they did pay a “living” wage (which wasn’t much on those times) to their Russian employees.

            Pretty much the same treatment as Iran was getting from BP/UK in the 1950s, no need to reinvent the wheel.

            The Chinese are getting dividents and access to the resource, which they have to pay for, probably negotiated price.

        1. CA


          Neo-colonialism is what US did with Russia during Yeltsin time… The Chinese investments in Russia have totally different specs…

          [ An interesting observation that Naomi Klein with “Shock Doctrine” would likely have agreed to. The point seemingly was taking control of industries during the Yeltsin years, as opposed to investment for development as with Chinese investment in the Greek port of Piraeus or the building of the Indonesian high-speed rail line…

          Interesting. ]

      2. hk

        You mean like the old nonsense about how China would “own” the US by buying bonds? Investment in deceloping resources does not lead to “ownership” as such.

        Unless you think Biden, Blinken, etc are committing treason by peddling US bonds abroad to potential adversaries like China, Saudi Arabia, and UAE to fund their hairy schemes abroad. (That’s literally selling US out by your definition, no?)

        1. Lamped.usa

          Running a large deficit is certainly equivalent to selling the farm. Recent events in the US colleges revealed their true owners.

  10. CA

    “Never heard of “peace enforcement” operation when Russian tanks attacked Georgia?”

    Georgia launched an unprovoked attack on South Ossetia in August 2008. South Ossetia borders on Russia and was protected by Russian peacekeepers who were attacked along with Ossetian civilians under cover of the opening night of the Olympics. Russia responded and defeated the Georgian attacking forces:

    August 20, 2008

    Russia Never Wanted a War


    THE acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?

    Russia did not want this crisis….

      1. Kouros

        Oh well, they are not that many such instances.

        Should though bring forth the many countries US occupies with its forces?

      2. rkka

        South Ossetians & Abkhazians disagreed while Gamsakhurdia was running Georgia.

        And they rather disliked it when the Cravatovore turned desultory small-arms skirmishing into massed area-fire weapon bombardment of the South Ossetian capital the night of 7 August 2008 and Brigade-level combined arms offensive operations at 0 dark hundred the next morning.

        Unfortunately for him, when the Cravatovore rolled the Iron Dice, they came up Snakeyes.

      3. Waesfjord

        It used to be a part of Georgia. It doesn’t matter what kind of crying you and your neocon friends do, your time is over. Your world is dead. Your ideas are blowing away in the wind like dust. Next year Odessa will be another place to shed your heavy, salty tears over. It will be another place that used to lie in a now disappeared country. It will be a Russian city in Russia. Perhaps dead neocons and dead countries and dead dreams of grandeur all end up in the same place? It doesn’t matter because nobody will miss them too much. “Blow away, blow away, blow away.”

  11. CA

    –China invests by invitation in Russia, Africa and Latin America-

    “Investment by invitation is another term for neo-colonialism.”

    [ Please be polite, as I am always polite.

    China is a benign 5,000 year old civilization of 1.4 billion. China is committed to assisting the growth of developing nations and has been doing just that. From Laos to Cambodia to Ethiopia to Egypt and on, China contributes to the development of nations.

    Please do not demean China. ]

    1. CA

      As a measure of gratitude, Madagascar’s has designed its currency with a field of Chinese hybrid rice as the background:

      September 1, 2023

      China, Africa deepen agricultural cooperation to boost continent’s food security
      By Tu Lei, Zhang Wang, Liu Xin and Xing Xiaojing

      Madagascar — As cool and pleasant breezes blow toward the central plateau of Madagascar, it is a signal that the rainy season is over, and it is time to harvest the crops.

      Like southern China, Malagasy populations use rice as the staple food, and rice cultivation has a long history. However, due to the lack of high-quality rice seeds and mature planting techniques, Madagascar’s rice production cannot fully meet the needs of local people.

      China and Madagascar have carried out technical cooperation on hybrid rice varieties since 2007. More than 20 agricultural experts from Central China’s Hunan Province have successively walked across the land, helping the local people to realize their dream of food self-sufficiency with hybrid rice seeds from China….

    2. Lamped.usa

      Just explaining what investment by invitation means in general. In case of China it’s certainly different. That’s why China shuts down online accounts for spreading “rumours”.

      1. Kouros

        Sorry mister to burst your bubble, but I will stand witness as a person who has its accounts shut down on various platforms just for questioning the “official message”, and I am operating from North America.

  12. CA

    Though the range of ramifications are unclear to me, remember that is a week Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia will become members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), which means significantly closer trade and investment relations with not only China but with Russia.

    China’s share of world GDP is 18.8%:,532,546,111,&s=PPPGDP,PPPSH,&sy=1980&ey=2022&ssm=0&scsm=1&scc=0&ssd=1&ssc=0&sic=0&sort=country&ds=.&br=1

  13. steppenwolf fetchit

    . . . ” Meanwhile, Moscow continues full speed ahead with its development in its Arctic, including mining and oil well operations along its 15,000 miles of coastline.” . . .

    One more reason why global warming will be speeded up and strengthened in the decades to come. After all the ice caps and glaciers have melted, and all the permafrost has thawed and melted, how much of Russia’s low-land farthest north will be under water in the new higher sea level regime?

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