The Russian Transport Ministry, Railway Ministry and the government of the Astrakhan Region will soon set about constructing a 51 km railway line connecting the North Caspian Sea port of Olya to the Privolzhsk railway as part of the North-South international transport corridor. As the press office of the Russian Transport Ministry reported yesterday, this was announced by Deputy Russian Transport Minister Chingis Izmailov at the second meeting of the North-South organising committee in Tehran. He said that the project has been estimated at USD 140 million.
Some of the money will be allocated from the federal budget but there are plans to attract investment from Russian companies involved in transporting freight in the Caspian area. There are also plans to obtain a loan of USD 60 million from the EBRD (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development).
As Mr Izmailov pointed out, Russia, Iran and India are planning to transport up to 8 million tonnes of freight along the new international transport corridor in 2005, that is twice as much as the volume of transported goods in 2002. He added that those companies operating on the line could earn over USD 2 billion. The deputy transport minister said that Middle Eastern countries 'are showing a lot of interest' in the North-South project. The international transportation route from the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf through Iran, the Caspian Sea and Russia to Northern and Eastern Europe is said to be three times shorter than the route through the Suez Canal.
Representatives of the Israeli Defence Ministry responded to recent reports about the possible delivery of S-300 SAM systems from Russia to Syria. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would destroy those systems
Russia is to start supplying S-300 air defence systems to Syria in the near future. The shipments will be conducted free of charge