Iran and Russia Building Their Own Trade Route to Evade International Sanctions

Two widely censured governments have been forced to build their own trade route beyond the reach of foreign intervention in response to western sanctions that have placed intense economic pressure on them.

Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are pouring billions of dollars into a new transcontinental trade route that will link the eastern edge of Europe to the Indian Ocean, The Foreign Desk reports.

The 1,860-mile-long passage follows rivers and railways, linked by the Caspian Sea, enabling dozens of sanctioned Russian and Iranian vessels to quickly and efficiently transport goods like weapons without needing to worry about western intervention.

Experts with more knowledge of the situation state that the goal is to build “sanctions-proof supply chains” that enable new commercial links to be formed with countries like China.

"It is an area we’re watching carefully, both that route and more generally the Iranian–Russian connection," said the head of the Biden administration’s Office of Sanctions Coordination James O’Brien, who just last week announced additional punishments aimed at Russian railway executives.

"We are concerned with any effort to help Russia evade the sanctions," he added.

Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, much of the western world, including the United States, have used economic sanctions to pressure and punish the country.

Iran has similarly faced sanctions from the west for its flagrant human rights violations, exacerbated by the recent protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of police.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has also expressed the importance of the Sea of Azov for the new trade route, which the country now views as "an inland sea" following the Russian occupation of Crimea and much of the south coast of Ukraine, including the city of Mariupol.

The Russian president also stressed the need to build new rail, ship, and road infrastructure in order to expand its connections with Iran, as well as much of the Middle East, India, and Africa, enabling Russian companies to more easily receive supplies and goods.

Biden's special representative for Iran, Robert Malley, has described the development of this new trade route as "extraordinarily damaging" and "reckless," stressing the need for heavy scrutiny.

With the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and continued protests in Iran, the two countries will likely remain joined together by their isolation from the west. 

Image: Title: Putin Iran