Friday, October 1, 2021

Shippers Hope to Make Volga-Don Canal Operational Year Around by 2028

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept, 27 – The Russian River Fleet is calling for a study on how to make the Volga-Don Canal operational 12 months a year rather than as now only part of the year because of low water levels. It says that after the study is completed, the project of deepening and widening the canal could be completed by 2028.

            Konstantin Anisimov, head of Rosmorrechflot, says that will allow for an expansion in trade from the Caspian and Middle Volga regions, but such a project would also make it easier for Moscow to shift the Caspian Flotilla to the Sea of Azov for military purposes and likely kill talk about building a new canal across the North Caucasus (

            Anisimov says that the project would increase the number of months the canal could be used to nine by 2024 and then to 12 by 2028, and one of his deputies added at the same time that developing the Volga-Don Canal in this way would be far less expensive than building a new canal.

            The canal, the last of the great Stalin-era construction projects, attracted new attention when Moscow shifted ships from the Caspian Flotilla to the Sea of Azov to put pressure on Ukraine several years ago, but limits on its shipping season meant that Russia could not move ships when it wanted to but only during sailing season (

            That led to discussions about building a new canal through the North Caucasus given how much would have to be done to make the Volga-Don serviceable throughout the year (, and

            But two factors limited interest in building such a new canal: its enormous cost and the fact that it would pass through non-Russian republics unlike the Volga-Don which goes through predominantly ethnic Russian areas, something that could upset existing ethnic power balances in Russia’s South (

            Anisimov’s announcement suggests that Moscow has made a decision, having concluded both that modernizing the Volga-Don will be less expensive and that it is necessary if Russia is to be able to use its Caspian Flotilla in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea in the future.


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