Ukraine’s sea ports in danger of isolation due to Kerch Bridge

Kerch Strait Bridge construction siteCargo turnover at the Berdyansk Commercial Sea Port in Ukraine reduced by roughly 30 per cent in recent months due to the construction of Kerch Bridge, said Raivis Veckagans, the director of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority.

Kerch Bridge, or the Crimean Bridge, is a road-rail bridge under construction by the Russian Federation, which will span the Strait of Kerch between the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai in Russia.

“This trend is associated with the [construction] of the Kerch Bridge and consequent decision of the cargo owners to redirect their cargo flows to the other ports. This decision was taken because it is unpredictable of how often the shipping will be blocked in Kerch Strait”, said Veckagans.

Deputy Minister of Ukraine for Refugees Georgy Tuka earlier warned that Ukraine could find itself in a state of effective maritime “blockade” because of the construction of the bridge. He explained that Russia plans to impose restrictions on the dimensions of ships passing under the structure.

Gyunduz Mammadov, a spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea earlier estimated that the construction of Kerch Bridge would incur losses of some UAH10 billion (US$369 million) to the country’s shipping industry.

The bridge has been under construction since 2015, despite protests from Ukraine, which says that all kinds of construction in the occupied peninsula contradict both Ukrainian and international law.

Vladislav Vorotnikov

Vladislav Vorotnikov is Baird Maritime's Russian correspondent.