As Suez Canal Remains Blocked, Russia Promotes Northern Sea Route

Courtesy Suez Canal Authority

Published Mar 26, 2021 6:11 PM by Ankur Kundu

As world trade feels the ripple effects from a blocked Suez Canal, with many ships taking the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope, Russia is giving another plug for its preferred alternative: the Northern Sea Route.

For a long time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been promoting the passage along the country's Siberian coast as a competitor to the Suez Canal, and Russia is seizing on the route's shutdown as an opportunity to play it up again.

Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear agency, recently gave three reasons why the Northern Sea Route should be considered as a viable alternative to the Suez Canal Route.

As per Rosatom's English Twitter handle, the first reason was that the Arctic passage provides "way more space to draw peculiar pictures using your giant ships.” (This post provides context, but may not be suitable for all audiences.)

The second reason, according to Rosatom is that "If you get icebound, we have icebreakers, well to break the ice."

Rosatom is the passage's official infrastructure operator.

As for the third reason, the company posted an image from the movie series "Austin Powers" with the show's main character stuck in a shuttle car, reversing back and forth in a narrow tunnel. Following a popular meme, they photoshopped over the car with an image of Evergreen's Ever Given.

Due to global warming, the Northern Sea Route is becoming increasingly free of ice. Moscow plans to use it for exporting oil and gas to energy-hungry markets - especially in East Asia. On Thursday, Russia's weather monitoring service pointed out that in some years, the route will be almost completely be free of ice in the summer months, as it was in 2020.