Ukraine: Construction of Kerch bridge by Russia violates international law

Russia is violating international maritime law by constructing the Kerch bridge in occupied Crimea, which will cause a reduction in trade between Ukraine and other countries.

Such an opinion was expressed by the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS), Interfax-Ukraine reported.

As noted in the CACDS statement, contrary to the reassurance given by Russia’s political leadership, the construction of this facility will restrict the freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, cause the Ukrainian Azov ports in Mariupol and Berdiansk a tangible loss and reduction in trade, and it will entail new socio-economic stagnation risks for Ukrainian Proazovia.

Experts estimate that the 33 meter limitation placed by Moscow on the above-water height and dimensions for ships traversing the Kerch Strait after setting up the railway arch will make passage impossible for Panamax-type ships. This will cause a loss of as much as 43% to Mariupol’s transshipment.

“For example, shipments of roughly 1 million tons of pig iron annually for contracts with American clients are under threat,” the announcement observes.

Furthermore, the CACDS notes that Russia’s unilateral bridging of the strait will cause losses.

“It must be noted that one day of a simple ship waiting for the strait to be opened is estimated at $20,000. Considering that the daily ship traffic through the strait is in the region of 70-90 ships per day, it’s not hard to calculate the losses which will directly influence the freight and economic attractiveness of the region as a whole,” the statement reads.

According to the CACDS’s estimates, Moscow’s actions have an exceptionally military and political color and create a new field of socio-economic stagnation risks for Ukrainian Priazovye, first and foremost for Mariupol’s metallurgy, which is of key significance to Ukraine. The land passageway to occupied Crimea is also placed under an increased threat.

The CACDS’s suggested primary response measures for Kyiv in connection with the new threats include informing the ambassadors of western states in detail about the situation with the strait and submitting this matter to the NSDC to determine the roadmap of adequate actions and ensure they are taken.

Furthermore, “it is advisable to begin work in the legal field, by appealing to international institutes regarding Russia’s violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982,” the report states.

Earlier Russia published a statement, according to which movement through the Kerch strait would be temporarily prohibited as of August 9.

 Russia is constructing a transport passage from its territory to the annexed Crimean peninsula over the Kerch strait. The motorway part of the bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, and the railway section by the end of 2019.

Ukraine is preparing a lawsuit against Russia for the construction of the Kerch bridge and its ports’ losses.

  Kerch Strait Bridge, Ukraine, Russia