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Companies looking to transport goods between Europe and China face the political, ethical and commercial dilemma of using the Russian route, or sending them on a slower, more expensive trek across Central Asia.   © Illustration by Michael Tsang
Business Spotlight

Russia's war leaves Europe with China rail route dilemma

Exporters forced to choose between sanctions risks and lengthy delays

FRANCESCA REGALADO, RHYANNON BARTLETT-IMADEGAWA, and SINAN TAVSAN, Nikkei staff writers, and JENS KASTNER, Contributing writer | Central Asia

BANGKOK/LONDON/ANKARA/BERLIN -- Moving goods through Russia used to comprise 60% of business for Rail Bridge Cargo, a European logistics company. Then President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine and nervous customers, particularly in the U.S., began to ask for alternative transport routes.

Seven days after the invasion, Rail Bridge Cargo announced it would stop using the trans-Russia routes on ethical grounds, save for humanitarian supplies, food and medicine. Instead, it looked southward to the so-called Middle Corridor, a key part of China's plans to build a new, iron silk road from Chongqing to Duisburg in Germany.

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