Houthi rebels targeted a Russian ship, the Merlin Luanda, with a missile in the Red Sea on Saturday (January 27), causing the cargo tank to catch fire. The Russian tanker, which was carrying oil to India, narrowly escaped the attack. Previously, Houthi rebels had refrained from attacking Russian and Saudi tankers, prompting Russian ships transporting oil to Indian ports to opt for the shorter sea route between the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
The ongoing war in the Red Sea is creating challenges for global trade, and India may face significant business losses because of this recent attack. The transportation cost of Russian ships bound for India may rise. The chief crude analyst at the global trade intelligence firm noted, “Until now, there has been a tacit agreement that the Houthi rebels did not attack Russian and Saudi tankers.” He suggested that the attack was likely carried out on behalf of Trafigura, influencing the decision to attack.
During the attack, the Achilles ship, en route to India, narrowly avoided the missile, which fell less than a mile away from it. Despite the attack, the ship continued to send signals indicating its safety. Approximately 50 to 55 tankers transport Ural crude from Europe to India, with 8 to 10 tankers arriving at the Jamnagar port each month carrying fuel oil. Additionally, 80% of Russian coal reaches India via the Suez Canal, and about five to six tankers of sunflower oil also travel through this canal.
It was suggested that Russia may need to reconsider its strategy, as it has been the sole supplier of continuing supplies through the Suez Canal. Altering the route for oil and other goods could lead to increased transportation costs.