Moscow and Managua are to cooperate over the next few years on the construction of the so-called Interoceanic Grand Canal, a new alternative to the Panama Canal. Deeper, wider, and longer than its rival in Panama, the new canal will challenge U.S. control over the region, though experts are divided on its geopolitical benefits for Russia.
The main investor is the Chinese company HKND, which has received a 100-year concession for building and operating the canal. The construction will be carried out by workers from China and Central America, while Russia, according to the RBTH source, will provide not so much economic and organizational assistance as military and political support.
The idea of building a canal across Nicaragua first came up back in the 19th century. However, at the time the political situation in the country was unfavorable, not least because Nicaragua was under U.S. occupation. Later, the project would be at one time “almost decided” before dropping off the agenda once more.
Most interesting of all is that the construction of the new waterway will cost far less than the construction of the Panama Canal, which was built at the turn of the 20th century. Incidentally, the latter is currently being expanded and is expected to double its throughput capacity by 2016.
The question is: How badly does Russia need the Nicaragua Canal and what geopolitical and strategic benefits will it offer Moscow?
“After lengthy deliberations, Russia has finally agreed to take part in the construction of the canal, which promises to become a major transport route in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, the U.S. will lose a considerable part of control over a territory which, thanks to the Panama Canal, has been under its control for the past 100 years,” Emil Dabagyan, a leading research associate with the Institute of Latin America under the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RBTH.
In the opinion of the head of the Institute of National Energy, Sergei Pravosudov, Russia will benefit not only economically, but also geopolitically, as the U.S. would suffer a blow to its prestige. “America controls the main points that sea routes run through, the Panama and the Suez canals, as well as major trade routes going via Singapore, Gibraltar, etc. Therefore the emergence of an alternative waterway is a direct challenge to the U.S.,” Pravosudov points out.
Full article: Russia and Nicaragua to cooperate on construction of interoceanic canal (Russia Beyond the Headlines)