Translated by Ollie Richardson
The Ukrainian media, still recently preferring to scoff at the prospects of the construction of the Kerch Bridge and living conditions of “traitors” in the blockaded Crimea, promptly changes its rhetoric.
Now the Kiev press expresses more-than-serious concern about the fact that the shock-installation of the bridge will block the passage of Ukrainian vessels through the Strait of Kerch.
The government of Ukraine is already counting millions of losses – the Sea of Azov for Kiev actually turns into a lake, writes the Ukrainian newspaper “Zerkalo Nedeli” in the latest issue.
“The recent temporary ban on passage across the Strait of Kerch for ships, justified by the need to install the arches of the bridge over the navigable part of the Kerch-Yenikalskiy Canal, happened at a period when from the Ukrainian ports of the Sea of Azov — Berdyansk and Mariupol — traditionally export agricultural products. The temporary ban severely hit the profits of these ports: grain traders had to send their production by rail to the Black Sea ports — Odessa, Kherson, Nikolaev.
Besides this, according to the project, the Kerch Bridge’s height in the place of the passing of vessels should be 35m … The new rules are quite permissible for ships going to Russian ports, but are unacceptable for ships going to the Berdyansk or Mariupol ports.
The fact is that the Russian ports of the Sea of Azov are mainly shallow… And here the Ukrainian ports — Mariupol and Berdyansk — are deeper in comparison with the Russian ports of the Sea of Azov…
Compliance with the new rules will considerably worsen the condition of grain logistics of the Ukrainian Pryazovia, because firstly, it will considerably reduce the number of ships coming into the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. Secondly, it will lead to an essential rise in price of freight for sea vessels conforming to the new requirements of passage through the Strait of Kerch. The restriction on dimensions will not only affect the cost of agricultural products, but also will lead to a considerable reduction in the loading at grain terminals and the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol,” writes the Ukrainian newspaper.
“In addition, in the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine there is talk about the threat of the termination of transfering limestone and coal, and cargo handling of export steel products and cast iron in such directions as Asia, America, and the Middle East will be completely redirected to the ports of the Black Sea. Farther, it will entail a falling – approximately 30% – of freight traffic at the ports of the Sea of Azov. According to the forecasts of experts of the Ministry of Infrastructure, the construction and introduction into operation of the Kerch Bridge will lead also to a decrease in the profitability of enterprises of the metallurgical industry of Pryazovia.
Kiev is counting the losses of trade ports of the Ukrainian Pryazovia, and makes pessimistic forecasts. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure’s estimates, already in the second half of the year the sum of potentially half-received profits of the Mariupol port will amount to little more than 5 million dollars,” specifies “Zerkalo Nedeli”.
“The creation of conditions for a decrease in freight traffic in the Mariupol and Berdyansk ports is only one of the means of implementation of the Russian strategy for the destabilization of the situation in the Ukrainian Pryazovia through the slow ‘suffocation’ of the regional economy and the deterioration of the social situation. After all, a decrease in the load of ports will increase the number of unemployed and will lead to a growth of social tension, and a falling of goods turnover at the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol will reduce income for local budgets.
In Mariupol, even without the Kerch Bridge, there is a rather difficult situation. It is difficult to measure the level of support for the central power. But among the local population there are enough supporters of the DPR and LPR,” wrote the fearing Kiev propagandists.
“But what is Kiev going to do in connection with the construction of the transport crossing through the Strait of Kerch? Why are the supports of the bridge still standing? Does Kiev really hope that the bridge worth nearly $4 billion will repeat the destiny of its predecessor, which was constructed by the USSR in the years of World War II and existed for only 107 days?
… Kiev shouldn’t rely only on elemental forces. It must achieve the halting of the construction of Kerch Bridge. The Ukrainian authorities has some options of actions. The first — to blow up the bridge. And such a scenario looks fantastic. It is improbable that the present Ukrainian authorities will dare to act like the Israelis in June, 1981: during Operation ‘Opera’ the Israeli Air Force destroyed the ‘Osirak’ nuclear reactor on the territory of Iraq.
The second option is more realistic: using the international courts to achieve the restoration of the rights of Ukraine as a coastal State in the Strait of Kerch and the Black Sea, and to receive compensation from Russia,” argue the authors of the publication.
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