War and economics: The Houthis, Russia, India and North Korea
Container operator A.P. Møller-Mærsk A/S transit in the Red Sea was suspended again at the end of 2023 after the attack by Yemen’s Houthi movement on one of the container ships. The attack came just after Mærsk resumed navigation and launched the international military protection operation “Prosperity Guardian”. The Houthi’s actions have led to significant disruptions to shipping through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, one of the most essential oil, natural gas, grain, and consumer goods trade arteries between Europe and Asia. Attacks could drive up product prices – the cost and time of sea shipments increase, and the consequences of additional traffic on other routes will be felt worldwide.
In the North Korean port of Najin, located close to Russia, intensive work is underway after a long period of stagnation. According to experts, it is related to the growing arms trade and its supplies to Russia due to the war in Ukraine. Satellite images in late 2023 show a steady influx of ships into the port, hundreds of containers being loaded and unloaded, and carriages ready to transport goods. According to South Korean intelligence, since August last year, approximately one million pieces of artillery from North Korea arrived in Russia, broadly interoperable with Russian equipment.
According to the Russian authorities, oil shipments to the two most populous countries, India and China, constituted 90% of all oil exports from Russia in 2023. This is how the authorities in Moscow managed to circumvent Western sanctions in connection with the invasion of Ukraine. India buys Russian oil, sometimes at a discount, refines it, and then sells it to Europe.