Kremlin officials acknowledged that Western sanctions were halting the functioning of the Russian economy.
Transport Minister Vitali Savelev told state media that the punitive measures “substantially ruined” Russian trade and logistics.
He said Russia should consider alternative trade routes, including a north-south route from Moscow through Central Asia to India.
“The sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation today have virtually destroyed all logistics in our country. And we have to find new logistics aisles,” Savelyev said.
Most of Russian trade from St. Petersburg on the standard route across Europe and through the Suez Canal has been blocked by Western countries’ trade embargoes.
All three of the world’s three largest shipping companies, MSC, Musk, and CMA CGM, have banned trade with Russia due to sanctions.
Savelyev said Russia could switch to an inter-Korean corridor to ease trade problems. Corridors are transit routes for the transport of goods between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe by ship, rail and road.
Russia has access to the Caspian Sea ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala, but has warned that ports may not be able to handle the volume of trade previously sent by standard routes.
Asia’s importance in the Russian market has grown in recent years as Western countries hit Moscow with a series of sanctions aimed at the Russian economy.
From 2014 to 2021, when Russia imposed sanctions annexing Crimea, total imports and exports with China increased by more than 50%.
China and India, the first and third largest economies in Asia, refused to cut ties with Russia, which invaded Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, India plans to increase shipments of goods to Russia by $2 billion.
Earlier this week, Russia negotiated with the West over sanctions. Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports is bound to drive up global food prices as one of the world’s largest grain exporters is unable to reach overseas markets.
The United Nations has warned that the world is facing an unprecedented crisis, with widespread hunger in poor countries and dwindling food supplies, risking political upheaval even in wealthy countries.
Russia has said it will end the blockade of Ukrainian ports in exchange for sanctions relief. In response, the US said Russia is using food shortages as its weapon to take the world hostage.