Kerch Strait Bridge

Well there I was assuming that there was a bridge between Russia and the Crimea all this time, when I discover that there is nothing of the sort!  Although one has been planned for some time, apparently a slow ferry is all that connects Crimea to the country that just annexed it.  Some thoughts:

1) How the hell did Ukraine manage to let Russia put troops into Crimea when there is no bridge?  Such piss-poor defending makes them almost deserve to lose a province or two.

2) If for whatever reason there is no free-flow of people and goods between Ukraine and Russian-controlled Crimea, how pissed off is the population going to be relying on crappy old ferries to get off their peninsular peninsula?

3) How long do you think we’ll be waiting for the bridge to be built?  Yes, I know Putin promised he would accelerate its construction the day the Crimean accession was signed, but in Russia large state projects have a habit of being delivered late, poorly, and way over budget.

Once the dust has settled it’ll be interesting to see what life is like for those Russians stranded in Crimea.  I wonder if Putin would recognise any future referendum to see them leave?

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17 Responses to Kerch Strait Bridge

  1. The Nazis started to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait during their occupation of Crimea during the second world war. The Russians completed building it with the pieces the Nazis left behind, but did not know what they were doing, so it was destroyed by ice the following winter.

  2. Bloke in Germany says:

    Crimea was full of Russian bases, wasn’t it? That was probably enough for the annexation.

  3. dearieme says:

    “peninsula”

  4. Tim Newman says:

    “peninsula”

    *Bangs head on desk*

  5. Tim Newman says:

    @Michael,

    I didn’t know that…but it doesn’t surprise me at all.

  6. Tim Newman says:

    Crimea was full of Russian bases, wasn’t it? That was probably enough for the annexation.

    From what I can tell, a squad of soldiers armed with weapons they carried on their shoulders was pretty much enough. I think this is revealing, in that it shows that either the Ukrainians didn’t consider Russia a threat (which makes them daft, or on Russia’s side, or a mixture of both) or they conceded the Crimea long ago. I’d like to think that the Poles and the Balts have spent the last decade or so ensuring that they have at least some units that can fight and hold certain strategic positions in the face of a Russian invasion, even if temporarily. All they need to do is dish out a bloody nose, and the Finns showed everyone how it can be done 70 odd years ago.

  7. Alex K. says:

    1) Russia had plenty of regular troops at its military bases in Crimea. Its treaty with Ukraine allowed for reinforcements up to 25,000 men. But all Russia needed to capture the peninsula were a thousand pro soldiers dressed as “Crimean self-defense”. Ukraine refused to fight back, fearing I don’t know what exactly – a full-scale Russian invasion of the mainland, probably.

    2) Water is potentially a greater problem than expensive imports.

    3) It’s going to be an extension of the Sochi project. Two years, $20 bln.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    Ukraine refused to fight back, fearing I don’t know what exactly – a full-scale Russian invasion of the mainland, probably.

    My guess is they feared a heavy-handed response in which hundreds of civilians would lose their lives, homes, or both. The Ukrainians would have seen what the Russians did in Chechnya and North Ossetia, and didn’t want the same happening to them. It might be different if they were fighting for their homeland, but I think deep down the average Ukrainian probably didn’t think it worth the hardship of war.

  9. Richard says:

    “… but in Russia large state projects have a habit of being delivered late, poorly, and way over budget.”

    Thank goodness nothing like that could happen here!

  10. Tim Newman says:

    @ Richard,

    Fair point!

  11. Transporting goods across water is not difficult or expensive. This is one skill the human race has more or less mastered. As Alex says, the issue is water.

  12. Tim Newman says:

    Transporting goods across water is not difficult or expensive. This is one skill the human race has more or less mastered.

    Whilst not disagreeing, just because something is cheap and easy it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be that way in Russia.

  13. “Ukraine refused to fight back, fearing I don’t know what exactly – a full-scale Russian invasion of the mainland, probably.”

    No attack necessary, surely they’d just switch off the gas, no?

  14. Alex K. says:

    “No attack necessary, surely they’d just switch off the gas, no?”

    Not so easily. Roughly speaking, Ukraine buys 20-25 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year from Gazprom while Gazprom also pumps about 85 bcm of gas across Ukraine to the EU and Turkey. Let’s say 110 bcm enters and 85 bcm leaves Ukraine every year. If Gazprom reduces the incoming flow, Ukraine will be tempted to use gas destined elsewhere. The EU won’t be happy, especially if in winter; Ukraine will blame Russia and Gazprom will blame Ukraine. Been there, done that – see 2006, 2009 gas crises. But this time, I swear, it’s going to be different. Unpredictable.

  15. Well, you learn something new every day! Does this not then put the ‘power’ (pun intended) back in Ukraine’s hands? How else would Russia deliver the gas if not via Ukraine?

  16. Alex K. says:

    Ukraine has some leverage over Gazprom in the short to medium term, that much is true. In the longer term, Gazprom plans to build the South Stream pipeline that would run across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and all the way to Austria and Italy. That would bypass Ukraine.

  17. I need to know about construction and bridges as this is the next assignment for me. I am glad to collect some facts from here.

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