The Moscow Times: Morocco refused to help Russia circumvent Western sanctions

The Moroccan authorities refused to help Russia in circumventing the sanctions of Western countries. Moscow was negotiating the creation of two transport hubs in Morocco, from where goods would go to Russian ports, but Rabat refused all proposals from the Russian side. The Moscow Times writes about this, citing sources who participated in the negotiations and a representative of the Ministry of Transport.

The publication claims that the Russian side offered the local authorities to create two transport hubs for the re-export of goods to Russia - we are talking about the ports of Casablanca and Tangier. It was proposed to carry out purchases through a specially created structure - the so-called trading house. The Russian authorities hoped that Morocco would be able to replace Russia with European ports that were closed to it after the imposition of sanctions.

The plan involved the creation of a transport line between Casablanca and St. Petersburg. The Moroccan side would host containers from ocean-going tankers and move them to smaller (feeder) vessels that would already be on their way to Russia. Such a scheme would help to relatively quickly increase imports, including of sanctioned goods, to Russia.

The publication notes that before the war, European ports, primarily Hamburg and Rotterdam, accounted for about 2/3 of container turnover, from where products were loaded onto feeder ships and went to St. Petersburg, Poland or the Baltic countries. Now these routes are inaccessible to Russia, goods from China are delivered through overloaded Far Eastern and Turkish ports, while India delivers its products through Iran and the ports of the Caspian Sea. The Moscow Times sources claim that the Caspian Sea is the Russian government's plan B. “Caspian ports will have a second wind,” says one of the logisticians who participated in the talks, without specifying when Russia will be able to significantly increase imports along this route.

Logistics and alternative imports have become one of the key problems for Russia during the war. Despite public statements about a quick turn to the East, this turn has not yet been made. The problem is compounded by the volume of imports from so-called "unfriendly countries", estimated at about $425.8 billion, or about 54.2% of Russia's total trade turnover. China in 2021 accounted for only 17.9%, or $140.7 billion.

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