"Kavkazplus" in its article "Gilyan Gap of the North-South Railway Corridor to be closed very quickly" (https://kavkazplus.com/news.php?id=39067 ) already spoke about the importance of the speedy completion of the construction of the Resht-Astara railway. This railway provides a direct railway connection between the main part of Azerbaijan and Iran and respectively, the possibility of a direct connection between Iran and Azerbaijan via the Indian Ocean and Russia.
Such a connection would also be established after the opening of the Zangezur corridor, as Nakhichevan already has a direct rail link to Iran. However, Russia apparently decided not to wait for its Armenian "allies" to fulfill their obligations under the peace agreement of November 2020 and push for the opening of the South-North rail transit route as soon as possible. However, Russia is ready to invest considerable financial resources in the project, both at home and in Iran, in fact financing the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway.
The Russian think tank Aktsents recently published information that Russia will lend Iran $1.3bn to complete the finish section of the North-South corridor. "Iran will receive exactly the same amount of money as Dagestan: the road bypasses of Derbent, Makhachkala and Khasavyurt will be completed here. Iranian goods must go through Dagestan bypassing cities," Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered.
Construction of new Dagestan roads will be started only in 2025 and completed by 2027. The Iranian railway will be built with Russian money as early as 2026. And so it turns out that Dagestan will be a bottle neck on the most important transit route - conclude "Aktsents".
It has been impossible to complete a 150-kilometer-long stretch of railway on the Iran-Azerbaijan border since 2009. Sanctions caused the project to stall: Russia needed a new transit corridor. Bilateral negotiations went ahead, and the Iranians got the money.
The new section will have a two-size track - Russian (wide) and Iranian (narrow) standards. "Seamless" transit will make it possible to deliver cargo from ports in the Gulf of Finland to the Indian Ocean in 10 days.
Undoubtedly, the fact that the construction of the Resht-Astara railway will be accelerated is of undoubted benefit to the whole South Caucasus region. This includes Georgia. After all, much of the cargo from the Indian Ocean coast via Resht and Astara will go not only to Russia, but also to Georgia, and then either to the Black Sea ports to EU countries (which are much closer to the ports of the Gulf of Finland), or to Turkey via the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars-EU railway.
The implementation of the Resht-Astara railway completion project should force Armenia to hurry up with its commitments on the Zangezur corridor and the rehabilitation of the Meghri railway. As long as this railway is in demand. After all, if the main flow of goods goes through Astara, the importance of international transit through Zangezur corridor and railway through Meghri will decrease. And the potential revenues of Armenia from transit will fall accordingly.
The way to live and how to make money from trade and transit relations with its neighbours on 29,000 square kilometres of internationally recognised territory is something Yerevan should already be thinking about now. If it does not want to turn into a degraded and completely isolated "land island" that is bypassed by all transit flows. Because no one will "feed" Armenia as a "military bridgehead" in the South Caucasus any more.
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