Afghanistan aims to become transit hub for Russian oil to South Asia

Haji Nooruddin Azizi told the Russian state news agency Sputnik that Kabul plans to open negotiations with Moscow about constructing the logistic facility in the western Afghan province of Herat.

Afghanistan is seeking to establish itself as a key transit corridor for Russian oil exports to South Asia by building a new logistics centre, according to the country’s acting minister of industry and trade.

Speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum in the Russian city of Kazan, Haji Nooruddin Azizi told the Russian state news agency Sputnik that Kabul plans to open negotiations with Moscow about constructing the facility in the western Afghan province of Herat.

The proposed logistics hub would facilitate the overland transfer of Russian oil supplies bound for energy-hungry markets across South Asia, providing a new export corridor for Moscow at a time when many traditional shipping routes face restrictions.

Azizi noted that Afghanistan itself is a major oil importer, requiring around 4 million tons of petroleum products annually. He said imports of Russian oil have already increased to help meet domestic demand.

The announcement signals Afghanistan’s desire to leverage its strategic geographic location to bolster economic ties with key partners like Russia in the wake of the Taliban’s return to power in 2021. It also aligns with Moscow’s efforts to deepen political and economic influence across Central and South Asia.

If realized, the transit hub could see tanker trucks or potentially a new pipeline carrying Russian crude and refined products through western Afghanistan and into Pakistan, where they could be distributed to regional markets or exported via Arabian Sea ports.

However, significant security, infrastructure and regulatory hurdles would need to be overcome before such an ambitious project could materialize. Large stretches of western Afghanistan remain rife with instability, militancy and drug trafficking that could threaten transit operations.

Azizi did not provide further details on prospective timelines, ownership structures or financing for the proposed logistics facility. He made the comments while attending the Russia-Islamic World economic forum aimed at deepening cooperation between Moscow and Muslim nations.

Despite its pariah status and mounting economic isolation from Western sanctions over Ukraine, Russia has prioritized cultivating strategic partnerships across the Islamic world. This latest engagement with the Taliban government underscores that outreach.