Aksyonov: Kerch Strait Bridge cannot be built without Ukraine's consent

The head of Russian Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said that Ukraine will have to agree on the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge, the Kommersant newspaper wrote.

According to Aksyonov, this is due to "international legal norms according to which the Sea of Azov is a joint area of navigation.”

"It is 'unlikely' that we'll get Ukraine's consent,” the official noted, adding that construction of an underwater tunnel would be cheaper and would not require consent from Kiev.

Russia and Ukraine have been trying to determine the legal status of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait for the last 20 years. In 2003, the parties signed an agreement which defined the Azov-Kerch waters as "internal waters of the two states". The agreement also stipulated that all issues in the area should be settled bilaterally by Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

In 2012, the countries signed a declaration on the delimitation of maritime space, but the administrative boundaries still have not been established, and the use of the area is still determined according the agreement in 2003.

The decision in favor of building the bridge from Russia to the Crimea has been adopted, and in September, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation issued a draft on a budget outline for the construction of the bridge. The head of JSC Russian Railways (the state monopoly in charge of railway construction), Vladimir Yakunin, said in October of last year that the "discussion [of whether it]  'will it be a bridge or a tunnel' came to an end, and it will be a bridge".

Recently, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said "building a tunnel is difficult, it is necessary to dig through an unstable ground 70 m deep.”

The leadership of Russian Crimea, however, is against the bridge. In October, the permanent representative of the Crimean Republic to the President of Russia, Georgy Muradov, called the construction of the bridge "dangerous" due to adverse weather conditions and said that "foreign corporations offered to build a tunnel, which is cheaper." According to his estimates, a tunnel would cost 60-80 billion rubles ($882 million-$1.18 billion).

The cost of the bridge, according to recent data, is 228.3 billion rubles ($3.3 billion).

  Ukraine, Russia, crimea, Kerch Strait Bridge