Northern Sea Route - Russia and China: competition or partnership


  • Elnur Mekhdiev Center for Analysis, Risk Management and Internal Control in Digital Space, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia
  • Ekaterina Zakharevich Department of World Economy and International Business, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia.
  • Parvana Mammadova Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Azerbaijan Technical University, Baku, Azerbaijan Republic
  • Farrukh Jumayev Economics Department, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Northern Sea Route, Russia, China, Competition, Partnership


The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is one of Russia’s and Eurasia’s key arteries as a whole, connecting Asia and Europe. Being the shortest and the most difficult route for navigation, the NSR is of great interest for exploring its development potential, especially taking into account the fact that a new player is appearing in the Arctic arena: we speak about China. Within the article, the authors raise the question of what kind of future the NSR will have in the context of cooperation or competition between the Russian Federation and China in the development and in the NSR capacities development. Within the research a quantitative analysis of the goods’ and ships’ traffic by the NSR is carried out; the authors also make forecasts about its development for the period up to 2025. The authors come to the conclusion that traffic along the NSR is growing, but slowly; the Chinese presence is currently insignificant, that’s why the Russian Federation will have to develop the NSR without the active PRC’s support. Competition on the way will be delayed to a higher level of NSR infrastructure’s development.


Metrics Loading ...


OSIMF. 2017. Northern Sea Route Navigation Best Practices and Challenges. Available at:

Khon, Vyacheslav C.; Mokhov, Igor I.; Semenov, Vladimir A. 2017. Transit navigation through Northern Sea Route from satellite data and CMIP5 simulations. Environ. Res. Lett. 12 024010. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5841

Bobrova, Julia. 2016. The Northern Sea Route: National Regime in the Changing International Context. № 9, pp. 1-10. Available at:

Selin, Vladimir S. 2016. Problems of the Northern Sea route development. Arctic and North. №2. Available at:

Khon, Vyacheslav; Mokhov, I.; Latif, M.; Semenov, V.; Park, Wonsun. 2010. Perspectives of Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage in the twenty-first century. Climatic Change. 100(3): 757-768. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-009-9683-2

Lanteigne, Marc. 2015. One of Three Roads: The Role of the Northern Sea Route in Evolving SinoRussian Strategic Relations. NUPI. Available at:

Aksenov, Yevgeny; Popova, Ekaterina; Yool, Andrew; Nurser, George; Williams, Timothy; Bertino, Laurent; Bergh, Jon. 2017. On the future navigability of Arctic sea routes: High-resolution projections of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice. Marine Policy. Volume 75, Pages 300-317. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2015.12.027

Hill, Emmaline; LaNore, Marc; Véronneau, Simon. 2015. Northern sea route: an overview of transportation risks, safety, and security. Journal of Transportation Security. 8(3). DOI: 10.1007/s12198-015-0158-6

Ruxpert, 2018. Available at:

Verny, Jerome; Grigentin, Christophe. 2009. Container shipping on the Northern Sea Route. International Journal of Production Economics. 122(1):107-117. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2009.03.018

Tseng, P.-H.; Pilcher, N. 2017. Assessing the shipping in the Northern Sea Route: a qualitative approach. Maritime Business Review. Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 389-409. DOI: 10.1108/MABR-06-2017-0013

Johnson, Keith. 2018. Why Is China Buying Up Europe’s Ports? Available at:

Goldstein, Lyle J. 2019. Why Does China Suddenly Want Nuclear Icebreakers? Available at:

Humpert, Malte. 2019. China Reveals Details of Newly Designed Heavy Icebreaker. Available at:

He, Laura. 2019. China's economic slowdown is real, but it's not just about tariffs. Available at:

Bradsher, Keith. 2019. China’s Economic Growth Slows as Challenges Mount. Available at:

Lasserre, Frédéric; Alexeeva, Olga; Huang, Linyan. 2015. China’s strategy in the Arctic: threatening or opportunistic? Polar Record. 1(1). DOI: 10.1017/S0032247415000765