Putin ponders new port project with Belarus

Harbour of St Petersburg an early may morning

The President of Belarus has proposed the building of a joint terminal at the Port of Ust-Luga with the Russian state of Leningrad Oblast in an effort to improve cross-border trade and logistics, and claimed his counterpart Vladimir Putin was open to the idea.

Aleksander Lukashenko suggested the project during a meeting with the Governor of Russia’s Leningrad Oblast state Aleksander Drozdenko on 25 September. He emphasised the importance of improving trade links and making to transport all cargo types between the two countries.

“We are now speaking and working a lot on changing logistics for the delivery of our goods,” he said.

“The Ust-Luga port is in Leningrad Oblast. We need to do our best to come to an agreement. And the primary issue is railway tariffs and transshipment in ports.”

Credit: The Government of Belarus

The Port of Ust-Luga is situated on the Gulf of Finland, in the Russian state of Leningrad Oblast. It is the nearest Russian port to landlocked Belarus, which borders Russia, and would provide critical access to trade lanes for Belorussian exporters.

Additionally, the Port sits within the 3,000 hectare Ust-Luga Multimodal Complex, which includes a cargo airport, an industrial freezone and a warehouse storage area.

Lukashenko said he discussed this topic with Russia’s President Putin and suggested funding previously earmarked for a joint nuclear powerplant could be used to build the terminal.

“He [Putin] is fascinated by the idea,” Lukashenko said. “I have even proposed a financial solution: we are ready to invest everything that we will save during the construction of the nuclear power plant, which is financed by Russia’s loans, in this port and the construction of a terminal.”

If the project goes ahead then it will be the latest in a series of projects from the Russian government to improve trade and logistics. This also includes the proposed Northern Sea Route, a long term project to turn the Arctic into a commercially viable trade gateway.

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