• A railway bridge will be built in Kerci Strait
• An independent railway company will be created for Crimea
• A direct railway and ferry transport service will be launched, a project involving RZD and other interested organisations
Tension between Ukraine and Russia has led to the implementation of opposed policies in both countries. Although in November 2013 (the Summit in Vilnius), Ukraine decided to give up negotiations to access the EU, in March 2014 UE and Ukraine’s interim government signed the Political Association Agre-ement. The event took place in the context of a troubled international situation caused by Russia’s decision to take over Crimea from Ukraine.
The agreement signed will help Ukraine and the EU to consolidate the level of political and economic cooperation, especially on the free trade segment. “EU and Member States have committed to sign the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which will be key instruments, next to political provisions. In this context, the European Council and EP will have to adopt the proposal for Autonomous Trade Measures on Ukraine’s exports to EU”, states the European Council in a press release.
Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula caused losses of “hundreds billion dollars” to Ukraine, declared Ukrainian Prime Minister ArseniIatseniuk after arriving in Brussels where he signed the agreement with the EU. Also, “Russia nationalised hundreds of structures pertaining to the Ukrainian state”.
On the other hand, for Crimea, the annexation to Russia represents the complete integration into Russia’s economic and legal system, so that “the Crimean citizens would have the same opportunities, rights and guarantees as the Russian citizens. We must help Crimea with supplies of spare parts and raw materials and with marketing so that its plants and factories continue operating. (…) It is essential to stabilise the economy and infrastructure”, declared Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Also, “communications are very important to maintain the territorial integration of the country, such as the case of Crimea. Safe communication with Russia and the development of a sustainable economy should be secured by modern transport and efficient infrastructure”, explained Medvedev.
During a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Government (19 March 2014), the parties approached the problem of transport organisation in Crimea. In this context, Putin demanded the construction of a bridge for which the ministry will initiate the design and analysis works in Kerci Strait this year (the strait connects the Black Sea to the Azov Sea). “Several proposals and options will be elaborated by the end of the year and we will choose the best of options”, declared Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov. Also, “this area requires the construction of both railway and road connections. Russia will build a railway and road bridge from Crimea to the south-east Russia”, said Putin. The estimated cost of the project is RUB 50 Billion (around EUR 1 Billion) and could be completed in three years.
RZD has not yet received the instructions from the Russian Government regarding the railway infrastructure from Crimea, declared the company’s president Vladimir Yakunin. He said that an independent railway structure will be created for Crimea, whose legal form has not yet been established. When this structure will be created, RZD’s participation will also be discussed, said Yakunin.
According to the instructions of the Russian Government, a direct railway and ferry transport service will be launched to the Crimean Peninsula by May, a project involving RZD and other interested organisations. “We want to double the capacity of railway ferries in Kerci Strait ensuring the independence of freight delivery to the Crimean Peninsula. We will build the bridge through this strait and now we have to review the best options: whether we will build a railway-road bridge, or two bridges, a railway bridge and a road bridge. Meanwhile, we will elaborate a project for the development of Kerci Port to transform Kerci into a Russian Black Sea Port”, explained Medvedev on 31 March.