Geopolitics of Makhachckala Sea Trade Port in the Caspian Sea and Eurasian interconnectivity

This volume of Geopolitical Report investigates the Russian strategy to realise a logistic hub in the Dagestani city and the possible repercussion on regional dynamics considering that the city of Makhachkala might challenge the near Baku and the Azerbaijani government’s desire to become the Caspian interconnection.

Author: Giuliano Bifolchi

Abstract: At the beginning of August 2020, the Russian Federation planned to improve the Makhachkala Sea Commercial Port on the Caspian Sea to transform this infrastructure into a logistic hub able to connect Russia with Iran, the Central Asian republics, the Belt and Road Initiative. According to the Kremlin’s Strategy 2025 to boost the North Caucasian socio-economic development, the Republic of Dagestan, especially the city of Makhachkala, might become the Russian Eurasian interconnector with regional partners (especially Iran) and Asian markets.

Keywords: Makhachkala Sea Trade Port, Caspian Sea, Russia, Iran, Dagestan, geopolitics, Eurasia

Conclusion: The Makhachkala Sea Trade Port has become one of the main strategic Russian assets on the Caspian basin in logistics, commercial trade, and oil and gas transport sectors. The massive investments that the Kremlin promoted to improve Makhachkala port’s activities and capacity underline that this infrastructure might outshine the Baku International Sea Trade Port. Considering that Azerbaijan is among the main partners in the EU Eastern Partnership and EU Energy Security Strategy (by which Brussels planned to diminish its dependence on Russian energy export) and the Caspian Sea is the epicentre of several energy pipelines and projects which link Central Asian and Caucasian oil and gas fields to Europe, if Moscow were to succeed in transforming the port of Makhachkala into the Eurasian transport and logistics hub, the EU would be forced to strengthen its ties with Russia. This eventuality could change the geopolitical balance in the Eurasian region, favouring the Russian Federation and pushing Brussels to change its policies towards Moscow.  In conclusion, since Russian-Iranian cooperation in the Caspian Sea has become more active in different fields and due to the influence that Moscow wields over Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the EU should consider the increasing role that the Makhachkala Sea Trade Port is playing in Europa-Asia connectivity because the complete affirmation of this infrastructure as the Eurasian logistic hub will increase Brussels ‘dependence’ on the Kremlin. In this framework, it is possible to predict that the Caspian Sea region will continue to play a vital role in Europe-Asia connectivity and attract more and more interests from regional and international actors interested in shaping local dynamics.