EXCLUSIVE: Iran, China help Russia in Volga River dredging

The Iran Marine Industrial Company is joining China in helping Russia to dredge the Volga-Caspian Seaway Canal, The Jamestown Foundation said.

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The dredging of the canal is set to allow Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Indian and other cargo ships to carry more heavy shipments to and from the Caspian to Europe.

Furthermore, this will allow the transit of additional larger naval vessels from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla to the Sea of Azov, where Moscow can use them against Ukraine.

For Iran, as well as China, involvement in this effort is geo-economically and geopolitically beneficial because it will help Russia overcome some of the bottlenecks that plague both its existing infrastructure and Moscow’s ability to address these problems on its own.

But perhaps more importantly, this dredging operation will further strengthen the emerging Moscow-Tehran axis, integrate Iran into the Russian-Chinese alliance, counter Turkish and Western influence in the region, as well as threaten Ukraine.

According to The Jamestown Foundation, Moscow’s willingness to allow Tehran to join China in dredging the Volga-Caspian Seaway Canal is if anything even more crucial as it integrates Iran into the Russian-Chinese alliance in the military and economic spheres.

The Kremlin’s decision to involve Iran in the dredging project came earlier this week and comes on the heels of two other decisions, one allowing Chinese dredging companies to take part in this operation and the other allowing Tehran to use its own ships in the Volga-Caspian Seaway Canal.

The two Russian government agencies involved, the Russian Sea and River Fleet Authority and Russian Port Authority, said that Iran’s involvement will allow the Russian authorities to deepen the canal to 4.5 meters.

At present, Russian officials maintain that the canal is 3.5-meters deep.

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