Iran and Russia using C.Asia and S.Caucasus to bolster axis

BAKU/NOV. 25 2022 (The Bulletin) —  — Iran and Russia are using Central Asia and the South Caucasus as a pivot to strengthen their anti-West alliance, commentators warned after a series of deals between Moscow and Tehran.

Iran has begun to connect its electricity grid up to the Soviet-era system that links the South Caucasus and Russia and has also pledged to boost rail links with Russia through Central Asia.

“With transit routes and supply lines disrupted due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Iran’s position as a connectivity point to South Asia, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia could be a pivot with the landlocked Central Asian countries,” said Niranjan Marjani, an Indian analyst.

An alliance between Iran and Russia has grown this year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Both countries are under US sanctions. Iran has also been supplying Russia with drones to supplement its missiles.

Iran’s energy minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian said that Tehran had taken the “first steps” to link up to the Soviet-era power grid system.

“We will perform technical works to synchronise electricity networks of Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia to be able to have electricity link-up with Russia,” Mr Mehrabian said.

News reports also said that the volume of  cargo between Iran and Russia that crosses Central Asia is expected to double.

In Moscow, Miad Salehi, head of the Iranian railway network, said that both sides had agreed to boost trade.

“With the targeting of 12m tonnes of transit in today’s agreement with the head of Russian Railways, a new page is opened in Iran’s international rail relations,” he said.

The US has warned Central Asia not to facilitate sanctions dodging.


— This story was published in issue 530 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 4 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

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