Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Helsinki’s Backing of Tunnel to Estonia Gives New Impetus to Rail Baltica Plan, Russian Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 14 – Moscow has long opposed Rail Baltica, the plan to build a European-gage rail network between Tallinn and Warsaw, arguing that the size of the economies of the Baltic countries will mean that such a line would never carry sufficient cargo and passengers to make it worthwhile.

            But now that Finland has said it will participate in the project by helping to build a tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn and that China has indicated it will provide much of the financing for such an enterprise ( and, Moscow’s arguments no longer hold, Vladimir Skripov says.

            In a commentary this week, the Russian analyst argues that a Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel will boost traffic along a Rail Baltica network and make it sufficiently profitable that the EU will join China in funding the project, making its completion almost inevitable and reducing Russia’s influence in the region (

            Moscow’s arguments against Rail Baltica have generally been cast in economic terms, Skripov says; but in fact, many in the Russian capital see the project as being “purely geopolitical and even military strategic.”  The construction of a Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel will bring such concerns to center stage.

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