Russia proposed resumption of the Khasan-Rajin project 

3 November 2021

According to South Korean Yonhap, Russia is considering the resumption of the Khasan-Rajin project: “Russia wants to cooperate with North and South Korea on resumption of a cross-border logistics project in its Far East after pandemic restrictions are lifted. Russian Far East Development Minister Alexei Chekunkov called on the parties to hold consultations on creation of a railway network between Russian Khasan station and North Korean port of Rajin and development of this port. 

Discussions on the project began over 10 years ago. It provided for the transportation of containers and raw materials from Russia to South Korea through the North Korean port of Rajin. But the prospects of the project are still uncertain.

“Trilateral cooperation can benefit everyone. Everything is simple in logistics. If you have a shorter route, it makes sense to use it. I look forward to the resumption of work on this project and I believe that the key aspects of the project will overcome any existing difficulties”, Chekunkov is cited by Yonhap.

Source: https://seanews.ru/2021/11/03/rossija-predlozhila-vozobnovit-proekt-hasan-radzhin/

The first international laboratory of autonomous and smart ships established

17 November 2021

An agreement was signed to establish the first international scientific laboratory of autonomous and smart ships. This was announced by the deputy minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Alexander Poshivay during a conference on autonomous navigation within the framework of “Transport Week – 2021” on November 17. 

According to the deputy minister, the founders of the laboratory are the Russian University of Transport, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Harbin Engineering University.

As a reminder, the 1st International High-Level Forum on Intellectual and Autonomous Ships was held on November 16-17. The event was held in the format of a video conference.

Source: https://sudostroenie.info/novosti/34825.html

We live in a strange world – II

Dr. Sergei Smirnov, expert of Center for maritime transport and spatial logistics

Exactly one year has passed since my first comment on the impact of the new coronavirus infection on human civilization appeared on this site. I have to admit my obvious limitations as an oracle. Like the vast majority of earthlings,

I remembered too well the Hollywood plots when a magic vaccine created by the titanic efforts of WHO and the best scientists beats deadly pandemic, millions of people happily wait for their vaccination and finally, the dawn of a new day rises over the renewed world, which for sure will be better and happier than yesterday.

Reality, however, as usually, turned out to be much more mundane, sad and contradictory. WHO distinguished itself by its helplessness and inconsistency. Until now, they have not been able to even develop a unified methodology for testing and assessing the presence of immunity against COVID-19. By the “titanic” efforts of the pharmaceutical giants, a vaccine appeared, and not single, but a whole dozen. However, the bad virus continues to spread, mutates, masks the symptoms and kills. In general, it behaves like a normal ARVI, a fact that ordinary doctors initially had to clearly understand. Governments, with varying degrees of demonstrated concern (depending on domestic political considerations and the peculiarities of national mentality) continue to tirelessly protect their fellow citizens, gradually depriving them of civil rights and freedoms using high-tech methods. However, all this was quite to be expected.

I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far.

A year ago, I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far. With the pandemic, everything is clear; it will stay with us for a long time. The emergence of the AUKUS alliance, strange to the point of irrationality, should not be considered a threat to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is in no way capable of playing the role of “Asian NATO”, its creators put completely different meanings into AUKUS. The terrorists, represented by the Taliban, seem to have succeeded, seizing power in Afghanistan without a fight in August 2021. However, it was not their merit. It happened only because a new president finally appeared in the White House, who was determined to end the absurd, but extremely expensive 20-year messianic adventure in the Middle East.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

Honestly, I was mistaken with the security forecasts. Moreover, if one my mistake was with a “plus” sign, then the second – an unambiguous and big “minus”.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price.

A year ago, we noted with satisfaction that maritime transport, which accounts for almost 90% of world trade, has passed the test of the first COVID lockouts with relative excellence. Then the world economy began to gradually recover, this process was very uneven in different countries. Since November 2020, a shortage of container capacities began to appear, the planned delivery time of goods was disrupted, the cost of freight increased, etc. We hoped that these were temporary troubles, that the system would restore the normal rhythm of work, let’s just wait a little bit.

A year has passed, and these problems have only worsened. The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price. It is important to understand that the volumes of production and transportation have remained practically unchanged. The most complex system of international logistics, under the influence of managerial decisions of state bodies, could not keep in a state of self-regulating stability. It is only unclear whether the “red line” of destructive no return has been already crossed.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market.

The globalized economy seems to have learned how to deal with financial crises. Today we are dealing with a threat of a different nature. I am afraid that the patented recipes of economists – Nobel laureates will not help here. It is necessary to admit the fallacy of many management decisions, to coordinate as far as possible the anti-COVID policies of different countries and international organizations, to wait and pray that the mechanisms of the market economy will help to recover once more.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market. The No. 2 world economy, firmly determined to become the No. 1, and the main “global factory” cannot afford to isolate itself and make serious decisions without calculating their consequences for the development of external relations. You simply cannot obtain the status of a global superpower without taking responsibility for others. The domestic economic situation in China is rather complicated today. An attempt to reorient towards domestic consumer market to the detriment of foreign economic relations is likely to be doomed to failure.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one. By turning on the cash printing machine and generously appeasing its own population, the West does not solve the problem, but removes it from sight, thereby aggravating the situation with the growing imbalance in global logistics. “Industry 4.0”, “green energy” – all this is great. However, we may not live to see this bright future…

RECONSTRUCTION OF TWO BERTHS IN PEVEK SEAPORT COMPLETED

14/10/2021

FSUE “Rosmorport has completed work on the modernization of two berths in the seaport of Pevek, carried out for two years. The berths can accept vessels with a draft of up to 8.6 m. Commissioning of the facilities is planned until the end December 2021. Mr. Viktor Bochkarev, director of Chukotka Autonomous District industrial policy department, reported it.

The estimated cargo turnover of the Pevek seaport will be 800 thousand tons per year. It is the northernmost seaport in Russia, located in the Chaunskaya Bay of the East Siberian Sea. Pevek is open for entry of all classes of ships during the summer navigation, processing cargo for the “Northern delivery” operation which ensures the vital activities of the Chaunsky and Bilibinsky districts of Chukotka, a region that does not have a railway connection and highways. Since September 2019, the world’s first floating nuclear thermal power plant (FNPP) “Akademik Lomonosov» is basing in the port of Pevek.

Source: https://www.korabel.ru/news/comments/

ICEBREAKER “CAPTAIN KHLEBNIKOV” WILL ESCORT VESSELS WITH CARGO FOR THE ARCTIC STATION “VOSTOK”

October 14, 2021, PortNews

The icebreaker “Captain Khlebnikov” left the port of Vladivostok on October 6 on an expedition to deliver personnel and cargo to the Russian Antarctic research station “Vostok”. The icebreaker with 114 passengers and scientific personnel as well as 52 crewmembers onboard will travel about 7,500 miles to Tala Bay (Antarctica). The ship will return to the seaport of Vladivostok this December.

“Captain Khlebnikov” was taken over by FSUE “Rosmorport” in 2016. In September-December 2018, it operated a series of voyages with passengers from the seaport of Ushuaia (Argentina) to Snow Hill Island (Antarctica) under an agreement with “Quark Expeditions”. In July-September 2019, it performed a series of cruises with passengers from the seaport of Anadyr to Wrangel Island under an agreement with “Heritage Expeditions”.

The inland Antarctic station “Vostok” (“East”) was opened in December 1957. It has gone through two renovations and three conservations. As it is worn out by 90% and covered with snow in places, the comprehensive renovation of the facility is underway. The aerodynamic shape of the modules of the new wintering complex will protect against snow drifts, a complex insulation system is installed in the 650 mm thick walls, the windows are equipped with pressure drop compensators, and the engineering systems are protected from freezing. The lowest air temperature on the planet (-89.2 ° С) was recorded at the” Vostok” station. For almost 10 months a year, the facility operates autonomously – it is impossible to get here either by land or by air.

Source: https://portnews.ru/news/319942/

CHINA’S INVESTMENTS IN FOREIGN SEAPORT TERMINALS

Iurii V. Vedernikov

Naval Engineer, Senior Research Fellow,

Museum of Russian Submarine History (St, Petersburg)

Author of the “Red Dragon. PRC Navy in the Beginning of XXI Century” monograph

ABSTRACT

China’s economic infiltration into the global space is multifaceted and multi-vector, and has a deeper nature than it might seem at first glance. In this movement, the key role belongs to the port infrastructure, through which the “Middle Kingdom” is consolidating its presence in a particular region of the world in private and the result is Beijing’s efforts to “Go Outside” in general. The article brought to your attention is exclusively of an overview nature, giving a general idea of ​​the subject of research, which is objectively limited by the framework of a journal publication.

The foreign economic dominant in the development of China dates back to 1998, with the beginning of the implementation of the fourth stage of the “Strategy of four modernizations” (1978) – the “Go outside” policy focused on the growth of export potential and the full use of the resources of the world market for the development of the national economy. As part of the further development of this policy, in the fall of 2013, China came up with a geo-economic project – ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), with the declared goal  “…to establish closer relations between the countries of Asia, Europe and Africa and to raise the mutually beneficial cooperation with these countries to a new historical height…”.

According to initial estimates, it was expected to involve about 40-65 developing countries along the ‘Belt and Road’ geographic area in the BRI orbit. However, more than 100 countries took part in the first ‘Belt and Road’ Forum (2017). In modern times (January 2021), within the framework of project interaction, China has concluded agreements with 140 countries and 31 international organizations. Among the modern participants are 27 countries of Europe, 38 countries of Asia, 11 countries of the North American and 8 countries of the South American regions, 45 countries of Africa and 11 countries of Oceania.

Maritime transport is the main connecting element of the BRI, along with the railways. Its use is carried out in the Concept of Maritime Cooperation in the Construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ (2018) along three Blue economic corridors, including routes:

– across the Indian and Atlantic oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea – to the shores of Africa and Europe;

– in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean – to the shores of Australia and Oceania;

– through the Northern Sea Route.

In these conditions, it is strategically important for China to have access to port infrastructure in various countries of the World, since the port, as such, is a key point for managing sea cargo flows. Let us consider the main modern results of China’s investments in the port infrastructure of the countries of the world. The first and dominant strategic space for Chinese investment in port infrastructure is the South Sea Route, which runs through the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Atlantic waters.

Since 2008, the Chinese company “COSCO Shipping” began buying shares in the Greek port of Piraeus and by the end of 2016 received a controlling stake. The port came under the full control of the PRC

At the first stage of this advancement, China carried out goods transportation through the ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg, making the first investments even before the start of the BRI project. Since 2011, Chinese companies acquired (fully or partially) the terminals in many European ports, including Spanish Barcelona, French Le Havre, Dunkirk, Montoir (Saint-Nazaire) and Fos-sur-Mer (Marseille), Belgian Antwerp and Bruges, Italian Taranto and a terminal in Malta.

Since 2008, the Chinese company “COSCO Shipping” began buying shares in the Greek port of Piraeus and by the end of 2016 received a controlling stake. The port came under the full control of the PRC, investments in the modernization of the technical infrastructure and the development of the port personnel capacity amounted to about 500 million euros. This was one of the factors behind the growth of Piraeus cargo turnover from 433 thousand TEU in 2008 to 3.7 million TEU in 2016. In 2018, Piraeus became the second largest port in the Mediterranean.

To ensure commodity supplies to Western Europe, Beijing acquired assets in the ports of North Africa: Alexandria, Port Said and El-Dekheil in Egypt, Suez Canal, Oran in Algeria.

At the same time, the business media reported on possible Chinese investments in the ports of the northern Adriatic – Italian Venice, Trieste and Ravenna, Slovenian Koper and Croatian Rijeka. These ports are integrated by railways into the ‘Mediterranean corridor’ linking Milan, Lyon, Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Seville and Valencia, the ‘Baltic-Adriatic corridor’ – to Graz, Katowice, Warsaw, Gdansk, Kaunas and Riga, in the Black Sea direction – to Bucharest and Constanta, and the Central European direction – to Salzburg, Munich, etc. Less investment activity was observed in the port infrastructure of the Baltic and Black Seas.

It was reported in 2017 that Chinese investors were interested in the assets of the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk (formerly the Ilyichevsk Commercial Sea Port). However, the following year, the legality of these investments was questioned and no active actions in this direction have been identified by the present time.

Back in 2006, the Hong Kong operator “Hutchison Port Holdings”, which owns 52 terminals in 26 countries of the world (2015), became the owner of container terminal in the port of  Gdynia in Poland. In 2009, Beijing acquired 100% of the shares of container terminal in Stockholm. In the fall of 2020, it was reported that the ports of Lithuania and Latvia were also included in the sphere of interests of Beijing. During 2014-2016, on the premises of the Nikolaev commercial port (Ukraine), the leading Chinese grain trader “COFCO Group” built a terminal for the import of Ukrainian grain products. It was reported in 2017 that Chinese investors were interested in the assets of the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk (formerly the Ilyichevsk Commercial Sea Port). However, the following year, the legality of these investments was questioned and no active actions in this direction have been identified by the present time. In 2016 – 2019, China began the reconstruction of the Bulgarian port of Burgas (€ 20 million) and Varna (€ 120 million).

The use of Piraeus as a hub port and the capacities of the Mediterranean and Black Sea ports that gravitate towards it form the preconditions for the transformation of the structure of the existing freight traffic.

We believe that the implementation of these projects poses a serious competitive threat to the Northern European ports – Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, etc., since the fastest container delivery from Shanghai to Piraeus takes 21 days, while from Shanghai to Hamburg – 31. The use of Piraeus as a hub port and the capacities of the Mediterranean and Black Sea ports that gravitate towards it form the preconditions for the transformation of the structure of the existing freight traffic.

As a result, if by the end of the 2000s China controlled 1% of European container terminals, then in 2017 it controlled 6.5% and in 2018 – 10% of these capacities. The countries of the African continent are gradually becoming the main recipients of Chinese investments. In the period from 2005 to 2020, the total volume of Chinese financial investments in the countries of the Black Continent amounted to about $ 370.3 billion, carried out by the “China Development Bank” with the mediation of the “Sino-African Development Fund”. Along with lending to the governments of African states, infrastructure projects are the main objects of investment. In total, 5,756 km of railways, 4,335 km of roads, 34 thermal power plants, as well as 10 large and about one thousand small hydroelectric power plants were built by the end of 2016.

Indian Ocean acquires the position and qualities inherent in the Mediterranean Sea throughout human history, gradually becoming one of the central water spaces of the World. For China, a presence in the Indian Ocean is a prerequisite for ensuring its safe advance to the West, protecting its investments on the European and African continents.

In these conditions, Chinese investment in African ports aims both at ensuring its commodity supplies to Europe / Southern Mediterranean, as well as at supporting ongoing infrastructure projects in continental Africa. China made major investments and acquired shares in the following African ports:  Port de l’Amité and Nouakchott (Mauritania), Conakry (Guinea), Lobito (Angola), Kiribi (Cameroon), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Teme (Ghana), Lecca (Nigeria), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Port-Sudan (Sudan), Doraleh, Damerjog and Tajura (Djibouti), Massawa (Eritrea), Mombasa and Lamu (Kenya), Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo (Tanzania), Maputo and Beira (Mozambique), Ambodifotatra and Tamatave Madagascar).

In the processes of modern transformation of the ‘Global Order’, the Indian Ocean acquires the position and qualities inherent in the Mediterranean Sea throughout human history, gradually becoming one of the central water spaces of the World. For China, a presence in the Indian Ocean is a prerequisite for ensuring its safe advance to the West, protecting its investments on the European and African continents. The Pakistani port of Gwadar became one of the first objects for Chinese investment in the Indian Ocean, the creation of which was announced at the beginning of the XXI century. The construction of the port facilities was carried out by “China Communications Construction Company” and completed in 2007. In 2013, Gwadar seaport was transferred to the management of “Chinese Overseas Port Holdings Limited” for a period of 40 years. In the future, the port will be connected with the territory of China through the ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, the BRI backbone artery to the Middle East.

On the island of Sri Lanka, the port of Hambantota became Chinese.

Middle East: we note that the Hong Kong “Hutchison Port Holdings” owns container terminals (berths) in Basra (Iraq), Ajama, Aachen Bin Rashid and Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) in Persian Gulf, the Port of Sohars (Oman) in the Gulf of Oman, and the Port of Jazar (Saudi Arabia) on the Red Sea (2021). In addition to this, the “Hutchison Port Holdings” owns the ‘Karachi International Container Terminal’ in Pakistan, the container turnover of which in 2015 exceeded 1 million TEU, and in the same year opened a second terminal in Karachi – ‘South Asia Pakistan Terminals’, the container turnover of which in 2020, according to forecasts, was to exceed 2 million TEU. It was reported that “China Harbor Engineering Company” in 2016 built a new port of Doha in Qatar and implemented several projects for Saudi Arabia – two new berths in the port of Ras Az Zwar, the Ma’aben port and the gateway terminal in Jeddah.

On the island of Sri Lanka, the port of Hambantota became Chinese. Back in the early 2000s the government of Sri Lanka received a $ 6.9 billion loan from China and began infrastructure modernization of the country, including the reconstruction of the port of Hambantota conducted by “China Merchants Port Holdings”. In 2017, unable to pay off the debts, the government of Sri Lanka transferred 70% of the shares of the port of Hambantota to China, with the right to lease for 99 years, the obligation not to use it for the basing of Chinese naval forces and while maintaining the Sri Lankan sovereignty over the territory of the port [30]. In addition to this, “China Merchants Port Holdings” has a container terminal in Colombo.

In South-East Asia, Chinese businesses also have port infrastructure assets: in Myanmar, Bangla Desh, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea.

In November 2018, China entered into an agreement with Myanmar to build the Kyaukphyu deep-water port. This port is located on Ramri Island in the Bay of Bengal and is the starting point for the Sino-Myanmar pipelines to the Chinese city of Kunmin. It is believed that this line will help relieve maritime traffic, shorten the time for oil delivery, and avoid the threat to tankers going to China through the Molluk Strait. At the same time, there were plans to build a railway – the ‘Eastern Economic Corridor’, integrating the railways of Myanmar and China, and reaching Singapore and Thailand.

South Pacific, Australia and Oceania are the second global area of ​​Chinese investment in port infrastructure. The advancement of Chinese investments to the Green Continent was largely facilitated by the privatization program of state assets of Australia, including at ports of Brisbane. Sydney, Newcastle and Darwin. In Oceania, China built a port on the island of Espirintu-Santa for the Republic of Vanuatu, with a loan allocated to it. However, over time Vanuatu was unable to pay off its debts and in 2018 leased the port to China.

China is expanding its presence in the ports of the American continents.

The 2013 acquisition of shares in the commercial operator “Terminal Link” opened access to terminal management in Miami and Houston. “Hutchison Port Holdings” owns terminals on the Pacific coast of Mexico at the ports of Estenanda, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, the port of Vecarus in the Gulf of Mexico and a cruise terminal in the Bahamas. “Hutchison Port Holdings” also owns two terminals in the ports of Panama and Colon, which form the Panama Canal. “China Merchants Port Holdings” is building port facilities in Santiago de Cuba, berths in the ports of Balbao (Panama) and Man Sanillo (Mexico), signed an agreement on the construction of transshipment ports in Trinidat and Tobago. “China Merchants Port Holdings” is building port facilities in Venezuela and in 2018 acquired 90% of shares in the second largest container terminal in Brazil in the port of Paranagua for $ 765.8 million In the same year, “Cosco Shipping Ports” and the Peruvian government signed an agreement to build the port of Chancay, 75 km from Lima. The project includes five berths with a throughput capacity of 1.4 million tons of bulk cargo and a container terminal with a capacity of 1.5 million TEU per year. The cost of the project is estimated at $ 3 billion. At the same time, Chinese investments are being considered for the construction of a railway that “… will connect producers and miners in Peru and Brazil with the emerging Chinese market, reducing the logistics costs of trade with East Asia and allowing Chinese products to more easily reach the Atlantic coast … “.

The fourth global direction of Chinese investments in port infrastructure, the Arctic waterways, so far has not demonstrated significant progress. Currently, these projects are in a state of negotiations, it is expected that the terminals of Arkhangelsk (Russia), Kirkenes (Norway) and a deep-water port in Iceland will become the objects of investment.

Investments in the port infrastructure abroad have made China one of the leaders among port operators. Three companies should be singled out among the largest investors – “Cosco Shipping Ports”, “China Merchants Port Holdings” and the Hong Kong “Hutchison Port Holdings”. They carry out their global expansion with the support of organizations such as the ”China Development Bank”.

The objects of investment, with rare exceptions, are individual terminals, and not the seaport as a whole. Nodal deep-water ports have priority due to the use of large ships for long distance transportation by the Chinese, which need less port calls along the route. A prerequisite for investment is the creation of not only port facilities, but also the reconstruction of the adjacent transport infrastructure, contributing to the promotion of Chinese goods to the partner country and the import of its goods and natural resources in the opposite direction.

The main forms of China’s investment in port infrastructure are the conclusion of a concession agreement for terminal management, including as part of a consortium, the acquisition of shares in port management companies and investment in terminal operating companies. Another method is the purchase of a port terminal for debts. Thus, the acquisition of the assets of Piraeus occurred in the background of the Greek debt crisis. As for 2021, China is close to acquiring for loan debts the Montenegro port of Bar, the Cameroon port of Kiribi, Mombasa and Labu ports in Kenya and others.

For the host countries, Chinese investments are an opportunity to modernize their port infrastructure on preferential conditions, to obtain other accompanying economic advantages. However, it does not mean that Chinese investors always meet the “green light” among the business environment, political circles and local populations of host countries. Thus, in the process of acquiring the Greek Piraeus, protest sentiments widely spread among the local population. The German Hamburg port operators rejected the “China Communications Construction Company”’s project for the construction of a new container terminal. The leaders of many countries regard the China’s investments as a possibility for indirect influence on domestic political processes. But, one way or another, we must admit: China is gradually and systematically expanding its presence in the regions of the world, systematically and consistently creating, acquiring and modernizing a network of port terminals as a logistics basis for the implementation of its “Belt and Road” global project.

Three Sakhalin Seaports Will Be Closed for the Foreign Ships

19 August 2021

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered to close three ports in the Sakhalin region for the provision of services and the entry of foreign ships. The corresponding order No. 2245-r of August 17, 2021 was published on the official Internet portal of legal information.

“To close the seaports of Aleksandrovsk – Sakhalinsky, Moskalvo and Poronaysk, all in Sakhalin region, for the provision of services and entry of foreign vessels,” the document says.

The port of Aleksandrovsk – Sakhalinsky is located on the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan, it includes a roadstead and an internal bay designed for anchorage of ships carrying out servicing and supply operations. The port navigation period is from April to December.

Moskalvo seaort is located on the northwestern coast of Sakhalin Island in the Baikal Bay of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. It is engaged in servicing ships, receiving, handling and storing cargo. Navigation time is from June to November.

The port of Poronaysk is located in the central part of Sakhalin Island in the Terpeniya Bay of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, at the mouth of the Poronai River. The main cargo is round timber, part of which is exported. The port is the only terminal on the eastern coast of Sakhalin with a state border crossing point. The location of the port of Poronaysk at the mouth of the Poronai River allows for year-round transshipment of goods. According to “PortNews” information agency, this measure is to some extent a temporary formality related to the procedure for merging these smaller ports with Korsakov seaport.

Source: https://portnews.ru/news/317293/

Plans to Build a New Railway Line from Yakutia to Magadan

19 August 2021

A joint expedition will take place to survey a route for a new railway line connecting Nizhniy Bestyakh (Sakha – Yakutia) with the city of Magadan on the coast of Okhotsk Sea. The stages of project implementation were discussed by the heads of ministries and representatives of the railway industry at the meeting chaired by Andrei Tarasenko, Chairman of the Government of Yakutia, reported the press service of Yakutia government.

Experts will determine where to lay the railroad and in which settlements to build railway stations. Preliminary, the length of the railway from the operating line Berkakit – Tommot – Nizhniy Bestyakh to Magadan will be more than 1.8 thousand km.

“It will not be a part of BAM or TSR, but one more new railway line going to Pacific coast. This is a large logistics project. First, such a railway line will reduce the cost of delivering resources to the northern regions. We will no longer be dependent on river navigation and winter roads. Secondly, the railway will provide an opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to develop and create additional jobs. This means more tax revenues to local and regional budgets,” said Mr. Tarasenko.

Maxim Lebedev, Deputy General Director of the Institute for Transport Economics and Development (JSC), noted that following the results of the expedition, the institute would prepare a preliminary investment feasibility study for the construction of the railway. The terrain specifics, presence of natural protected areas, length, presence of a sufficient cargo base and others are among the criteria for railroad construction  study.

The development of the railway infrastructure in the eastern part of Russia is a strategic goal, outlined by President Putin. As a whole, it is associated with the second stage of the expansion of the BAM and TSR, the major railroads in Russia. The construction of the new railway will also ensure the availability and development of industrial projects in the Far East and the Arctic zone.

Source: https://portnews.ru/news/317343/

Russia Will Be the World First to Get Autonomous Sea Vessels

August 18, 2021  “PortNews”

The State Duma (Parliament) of Russia is to adopt amendments to the Merchant Shipping Code and several by-laws regulating the use of autonomous vessels this fall. Several agreements of intent for the construction of more than 20 vessels of three series, equipped with autonomous navigation systems, have already been signed with selected shipping companies.

Today, autonomous navigation systems are being tested in real conditions on three ships at once. We are talking about the dry cargo ship ‘Pola Anfisa’ operating in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the ‘Rabochaya’ barge and the ‘Redut’ dredger (Black and Azov Seas) and the ‘Mikhail Ulyanov’ tanker in the Barents Sea. Most often, they work as usual, but periodically when the opportunity arises, they go to autonomous control mode.

“In the very near future, we are going to conduct demonstration voyages that will summarize these tests,” said Alexander Pinsky, “Marinet” general director.

According to the project, it is planned to complete the experiment on December 31, 2025. The tests will be carried out in 11 regions of the country, including St. Petersburg, Leningrad, Kaliningrad and Murmansk regions.

“The first route operated by such vessels will appear between Ust-Luga in the Leningrad Region and the ports of Kaliningrad and Baltiysk,” said First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Andrei Belousov. “In the future, after 2025, autonomous vessels will enter the ports”.

This project is especially important for the Kaliningrad region, said Dmitry Lyskov, head of the press service of the Kaliningrad regional government. According to him, the most optimal way of communication between the enclave and the “mainland” is the sea route. But. the ships working on it are very old and obsolete. The railway option is also far from ideal, since foreign “neighbors” make increased demands on it. For example, for a long time they prohibited the transit of trains with more than 50 people on board through their territory. Then this limit was increased to 250 passengers.

At the moment, air traffic is the most stable, but it is not able to cover all the transport needs of the region. Autonomous ferries of “Rosmorport” will solve this problem. Now they are on the final stages of construction, and one of them is undergoing sea trials. It is assumed that they will be able to go to sea in 2022. They have a chance to officially become the world’s first autonomous vessels, if they are not overtaken by two other Russian companies involved in this project.

Similar experiments were carried out by other countries. However, Russia, unlike its foreign competitors, has managed to organize the process in such a way as to fit into international maritime conventions without the need to revise them, which could take decades for approval. In other words, any Russian vessels, including autonomous ones, will comply with all the requirements of the IMO conventions.

Autonomous ships are frequently called ‘unmanned’, but this is not an entirely correct term, emphasizes Alexander Pinsky. Autopilot systems capable to plot a route for a vessel without human intervention appeared in the 1970s – earlier than on airplanes and cars. But, autopilot systems can only guide ships along a given trajectory. If there is any danger, for example, approaching another vessel, the autopilot will not be able to do anything.

Autonomous navigation systems, unlike autopilot, are able not only to identify a dangerous situation, but also to make changes to the route, and then give a command to the rudders and engines of the vessel for the necessary maneuver, or offer such solutions to the person controlling the vessel.

The main point of introducing such systems is to minimize the risk of human errors, which are the main cause of marine accidents and disasters. In addition, it will allow maritime shipping companies to save significant amounts of money. Maritime safety costs a lot of money. This is the installation of various technical means on ships, an additional crew on board, its training and certification. Given that there is a shortage of seafarers in the world, these costs are constantly growing.

According to Alexander Pinsky, autonomous navigation is currently the only way to improve the safety of navigation. Part of the crew can be moved to the shore, and this is already a considerable savings. Some positions on board the ship will simply become unnecessary, since many routine operations will be performed not by a person, but by automation. As a result, the number of crews can be reduced by about 25-30 percent. “We do not set goals to completely get rid of ship crews”, – the expert notes. “Some functions can be handled by machines, and some still require a human. For example, automatics will not be able to take care of passengers on board and rescue them in case of an accident. It also makes no sense to automate a number of technical functions, since it will be more expensive than the work of a person on board – we are talking, for example, about mooring or pilotage in the port. Yet at least one shift can be removed from the crew of the vessel.

Source: https://portnews.ru/digest/22628/

THE PENINSULA STANDSTILL: WILL THE PANDEMIC OPEN THE DOOR OUT?

Sergei M. Smirnov, PhD

The process of normalizing the situation on the Korean Peninsula, after the dramatic events of 2018, which gave hope for a quick and decisive success, is now at a standstill. We can hardly see any area where progress nay be achieved, to say nothing about a breakthrough. The COVID-19 pandemic has almost nothing to do with current situation.

Let us consider several factors that contributed to the development of a negative scenario.

The main disappointment, undoubtedly, is the failure of Washington’s “cavalry attack” attempt to resolve “overnight” the sluggish crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

First, this is the selfish policy of the countries that were once participants in the Six-Party talks. This term attributes to all countries without exception. The format of Six-Party talks is not mentioned by chance – formally, this mechanism still exists, career diplomats representing their states continue to imitate activities, calmly waiting for retirement benefits. Political scientists also periodically recall the Six-Party talks, elaborating on the possibility of its transformation into a permanent regional security structure.

The main disappointment, undoubtedly, is the failure of Washington’s “cavalry attack” attempt to resolve “overnight” the sluggish crisis on the Korean Peninsula.  In my opinion, ex-President Trump missed his historic chance when, at the summit in Hanoi, he applied not the wisdom of a true political leader, but the negotiation tactics of a corporate executive. However, Trump is actually a businessperson who had managed to occupy the Oval Office by chance, without going through any of the obligatory stages of public service. It was not worth insisting on the deliberately unacceptable conditions of “complete and unconditional renunciation of the nuclear program”; it was necessary to agree on a formal end to the Korean War and the conclusion of a peace treaty instead.  It was also imperative to involve the most interested party in negotiations with the DPRK – the Republic of Korea. That would practically guarantee Trump the Nobel Peace Prize and a second term in the White House.

The decisive steps of President Biden to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, which his three predecessors dreamed of but did not dare to do, inspire a certain optimism. Let us hope that the Democratic administration will act with the same rationality and pragmatism with regard to the Korean Peninsula. In the 1990s, it was under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton that the US-North Korean relations moved off the ground and the “Framework agreement” on the DPRK’s nuclear program was concluded. The Republican majority in Congress later thwarted its implementation, but today the initiatives of the Biden administration are much easier to pass through the Capitol Hill.

President Moon Jae-in may have tried too hard to accommodate the unpredictable Donald Trump, and it is likely that the conservative South Korean establishment has successfully sabotaged the president’s attempts to force the process of national reconciliation in Korea.

The Republic of Korea has also not fully realized its chance to move closer to national reconciliation. The powerful impetus of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with a single team of the two Korean states lasted a little over a year, and after the failure of the Hanoi Summit, RoK’s initiative seems to have dwindled. President Moon Jae-in may have tried too hard to accommodate the unpredictable Donald Trump, and it is likely that the conservative South Korean establishment has successfully sabotaged the president’s attempts to force the process of national reconciliation in Korea. In any case, Moon Jae-in’s tenure at the Blue House is ending, and he failed to do even the minimum necessary – to repeal the National Security Law or even the odious May 24 sanctions.

Beijing is quite happy with the current situation around the DPRK. One can only guess how much the Chinese leadership “contributed” to the slowdown of the 2018-2019 detente processes.

China is pursuing perhaps the most consistent policy towards the Korean Peninsula. Xi Jinping, who positions himself as a tough authoritarian leader, adheres to a strictly pragmatic approach to the DPRK. Beijing did not hesitate to support UN Security Council Resolutions 2270, 2321, 2371, 2375, imposing tough sanctions against North Korea, because they did not harm the Chinese economy, to some extent protected the PRC labor market from North Korean immigrants, and maximized North Korea’s overall dependence upon the PRC.

Beijing is quite happy with the current situation around the DPRK. One can only guess how much the Chinese leadership “contributed” to the slowdown of the 2018-2019 detente processes. In any case, China (Russia as well) defiantly ignored the ‘PyeongChang Spirit’ rallies that took place in South Korea after the Olympics. In the foreseeable future, Beijing will try to maintain a monopoly position on the DPRK’s foreign trade market, maintain stability and order in the North, ensure that no external force is used against Pyongyang and, at the same time, toughly suppress any attempts by the DPRK to diversify its foreign policy. In this regard, one cannot expect the emergence of new radical initiatives on the Korean Peninsula on the part of the PRC.

It seems that Japan is gradually moving towards a “New Isolationism”, which is facilitated by the peculiarities of the national mentality and the development of virtual reality technologies. A good example of this is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, held in August 2021, with empty stands, closed borders and restrictions on sexual and personal interaction between the participants.

The policy of Japan towards the DPRK may also be called consistent. However, this “consistency” is distinguished by passivity and gradual withdrawal from participation in solving the most pressing regional problems. In fact, after the Koizumi-Kim Jong Il summit in 2002, Tokyo did not put forward a single real initiative to resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It seems that Japan is gradually moving towards a “New Isolationism”, which is facilitated by the peculiarities of the national mentality and the development of virtual reality technologies. A good example of this is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, held in August 2021, with empty stands, closed borders and restrictions on sexual and personal interaction between the participants.

Russia‘s policy towards the DPRK is very peculiar. On the one hand, Russia had written off almost the entire national debt of the DPRK in 2014 without any real obligations of compensation on the part of Pyongyang. “Russian Railways” paid for most of the project cost to modernize the Rajin – Khasan railway, but since 2015 there has been no noticeable increase in freight traffic along this line. On the other hand, Russia did not use its veto right when voting on UN Security Council resolutions imposing tough economic sanctions against the DPRK. Moreover, the ban on the use of labor force from the DPRK abroad, introduced by these sanctions, is definitely not beneficial to Russia. North Korean construction and agricultural workers covered a significant part of the labor market needs in the Far East of the Russian Federation, and there is no one to replace them.

North-East Asia in the first half of the XXI Century is fundamentally different from Europe at the end of the XX Century, when Germany united and the Warsaw Pact collapsed. For Russia, the emergence of a unified Korean state should be regarded not as a threat, but as favorable opportunity in all respects.

Maybe it is worth agreeing with the opinion of some experts that for Russia, despite its declared ‘Pivot to the East’ policy, the North Korean affairs are considered secondary, and that Moscow has recognized the DPRK as the Chinese sphere of influence. Nevertheless, everything is much more complicated and confusing in this issue. The principle of ‘equidistance’ in relations between Russia and the two Korean states creates a good basis for maintaining the potential for “strategic mediation”. The attitude of the Russian Federation to the problem of the DPRK’s nuclear status seems to be rational and pragmatic. The same pragmatism Russia should apply in other areas, in particular, in the issue of national reunification, the signing of a peace treaty that puts an end to the 1950-1953 Korean War and in bilateral trade with the DPRK. North-East Asia in the first half of the XXI Century is fundamentally different from Europe at the end of the XX Century, when Germany united and the Warsaw Pact collapsed. For Russia, the emergence of a unified Korean state should be regarded not as a threat, but as favorable opportunity in all respects.

DPRK is not behaving very constructively, too. Indeed, there is a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and long-range ballistic missile launches, which is undoubtedly good. However, it is impossible to say with certainty whether the reason for the introduction of this moratorium was the desire to demonstrate good will to the world or simply the lack of available technical and financial resources to carry out these very costly activities. We observed an inadequate reaction on the part of Pyongyang in connection with minor incidents near the DMZ, for example, the demonstrative destruction of the inter-Korean communications center in Kaesong in June 2020. Propaganda and tactical considerations clearly prevailed over long-term strategic priorities, because such actions only contribute to the chances of South Korean conservatives (strongly opposed to the DPRK) to come to power next spring. Later, Pyongyang apparently realized that loyal partners in the South were preferable to outright opponents, and agreed to restore a “hot line” of communication between the two countries from July 27, 2021.

Pyongyang used the situation as an opportunity not to return home its citizens who fell under the aforementioned UN Security Council sanctions. However, the continuing complete closure of its borders plays against the DPRK today, making it impossible to develop economic ties and receive financial support from abroad.

Kim Jong-un’s policy regarding the COVID-19 pandemic also looks not very consistent. Some experts assessed the Kim’s decision of February 2020 to completely close the borders of the DPRK in connection with the outbreak of a new coronavirus infection in neighboring China as an act of statesmanship, which is probably highly exaggerated. At that time, there was absolutely no reason to believe that the countries of the world and international organizations would turn out to be so helpless and inadequate in their actions to neutralize the spread of a new viral disease. Rather, Pyongyang used the situation as an opportunity not to return home its citizens who fell under the aforementioned UN Security Council sanctions. However, the continuing complete closure of its borders plays against the DPRK today, making it impossible to develop economic ties and receive financial support from abroad.

Coronavirus pandemic as an external factor

When the thesis about the COVID-19 pandemic as some kind of existential threat to humankind became a dogma almost equal to the Tablets of Moses on Mount Sinai, other problems forcefully faded into the background. However, these problems have not gone away, they are completely real, objective and dangerous.

The role of the COVID-19 pandemic in the current stalemate on the Korean Peninsula can be assessed in different ways. On the one hand, national governments and international organizations have driven themselves into a corner, allowing the situation to unfold along the same inexorable logic that led to the outbreak of World War I more than a century ago. When the thesis about the COVID-19 pandemic as some kind of existential threat to humankind became a dogma almost equal to the Tablets of Moses on Mount Sinai, other problems forcefully faded into the background. However, these problems have not gone away, they are completely real, objective and dangerous. In particular, it is the threat of a full-scale armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula with many millions of potential victims.

North Korea today is highly unlikely to initiate aggression deliberately. It is necessary to understand that fanning the threat of a military attack by North Korea is a method of psychological warfare. Similarly, the DPRK population is being constantly frightened with the threat of “imminent aggression from the United States and their puppets in the South”. Both sides need to abandon the logic and rhetoric of the Cold War.

At the same time, the threat of major armed conflict escalating from possible incidents in the DMZ area remains high. Mutual nervousness arising from the decades-long confrontation along the border is the source of potential dangerous incidents, like the sinking of the ‘Cheonan’ corvette in March 2010.

doubts are growing about the feasibility of the Chinese ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which gives Beijing too many levers of influence on trans-Eurasian transportation.

On the other hand, the current pandemic situation is forcing us to reevaluate the existing stereotypes and approaches to the development of cross-border economic ties. This mainly refers to the need to diversify global and regional networks of value chains, transport and logistics routes. Otherwise, unilateral restrictions on a certain logistics hub / seaport /border crossing point, introduced even under the most plausible pretext, can lead to the collapse of an entire industry or region. We have seen such negative cases in North-East Asia in 2020-2021 more than once. In this regard, doubts are growing about the feasibility of the Chinese ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, which gives Beijing too many levers of influence on trans-Eurasian transportation. At the same time, the diversification and implementation of spatial network-centric technologies opens a new window of opportunity for normalizing the situation on the Korean Peninsula – through the DPRK’s involvement in the creation of such network structures and new logistics routes. Necessary precondition – this involvement should take place on the basis of equal partnership and mutual responsibility of the parties, without any ideological pressure from outside, but also without blackmail or demands for a special treatment on the part of Pyongyang. Elaborating on the idea of ​​network-centric spatial development in North-East Asia, it may be worth considering specific options for involving third countries in inter-Korean reconciliation. Here, a variety of combinations of interaction in the economy, diplomacy, and humanitarian ties are possible. It is likely that it will be effective to stimulate the involvement of countries that have made the transition from a socialist model to a market economy. For example, of Mongolia, which is directly interested in the development of transport and logistics cooperation with the DPRK. The convincing victory of U. Khurelsukh in the June 2021 presidential elections in Mongolia inspires optimism in this regard: two years ago, as Prime Minister, he sought to actively contribute to the peace processes on the Korean Peninsula.