Due to a need to coordinate the project with Ukraine
Building of a rail and auto bridge across the Kerch Strait is on a threat of failure, due to a need to coordinate implementation of the project with the Ukranian government, according to head of the Crimea Sergey Aksenov.
According to him, this is due to "international legal norms, which make the Sea of Azov a common area of navigation of Russia and Ukraine and which stipulate that building of the bridge should require an approval of the Ukranian government, that, according to Aksenov, will be impossible to receive due to current relations between the two countries.
Russia and Ukraine have been trying to determine a legal status of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait for nearly 20 years. In 2003, the countries signed an agreement on cooperation for the use of the Azov-Kerch Strait as "internal waters of both states». In 2012, the countries signed a statement on maritime delimitation, but the administrative boundaries have not yet been established, and the use of the waters is still determined by the agreement of 2003.
Russia is currently unable to break this agreement, which is protected by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
In addition to political issues, building of the bridge will never be approved by Ukraine, as it will block the Strait for the transit of its own vessels.
Representatives of the Ukranian government, as well as the Russian Ministry of Transport declined to comment.
According to some sources in the Russian government, due to this problem, the government may decide to build a tunnel via the Strait, instead of the bridge.
There is a possibility that a prospect of the tunnel may be considered already during the next governmental meeting, despite the fact that building of the tunnel will be associated with higher technological complexity and risks, and in particular digging floating soil on the depth of 70 meters.
In the meantime, the government of Crimea has already welcomed building of the tunnel, instead of the bridge. According to Georgi Muradov, a presidential envoy in the Crimea region, building of the bridge is dangerous due to adverse weather conditions in Crimea.
According to him, several foreign corporations in the field of engineering and bridge building have recently proposed the Russian and Crimean government to build a tunnel, instead of the bridge, also due its cheapness.
According to Muradov, the cost of the tunnel is about 60-80 billion rubles (US$2-2,5 billion), while the volume of investments in the building of the bridge will amount to 228.3 billion rubles (US$3-3,5 billion).
However, despite this, the Russian federal government still supports the idea for building of the bridge in the region. According to Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, building of the tunnel is dangerous also due to high seismic risks in the region.
According to initial plans of the Russian government, a feasibility study of the project should have been designed by November 1, however this will be suspended by at least middle January of 2015.
At the same time there is still unclear the position of a general contractor of the project. Several weeks ago Stroytransgaz, one of Russia’s largest engineering companies, owned by a Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, said that it will not participate in the project because of high risks.
In the meantime, Russian analysts believe that the Russian government should not refuse from building of the bridge in favor of the tunnel. According to Mikhail Burmistrov, head of Infoline-Analytics, one of Russia’s leading analyst agencies in the field of building, none of Russian companies has an experience in building of underwater tunnels and implementation of such projects will be impossible without the participation of foreign companies, which is also impossible amid the currenty sanctions against Russia and the Crimea.
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