Bit late in the day, but the European Union has finally taken sanction action against Russia’s Kerch Bridge. Opened in May 2018, the illegally built bridge leads to Russian occupied Crimea. Sanctions have been applied to individuals and companies involved in the bridge construction. Despite the delay, the sanctions are a welcome show of support for Ukraine. One hopes future sanctions can be applied to the companies maintaining and operating the bridge (hint, hint).
October 1st, the following statement was issued.
The Council today added two individuals and four entities to the list of those individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. These measures were adopted in the light of the role played by these people and entities in the construction of the bridge and railway tracks linking Russia to the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula via the Kerch Strait, and further isolating Crimea from Ukraine.
The sanctions, which now apply to a total of 177 individuals and 48 entities, include a travel ban and an asset freeze. The travel ban prevents the entry into or transit through the territory of the European Union of the persons listed, while the asset freeze concerns the funds or economic resources of both listed persons and entities. In addition, EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to those listed persons.
Russia uses the bridge to inflict economic hardship on Ukraine.
International shipping needing to visit Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea are routinely delayed. As seen above, ships have to pass under the bridge in this one location. With control of the bridge and coastal waters around occupied Crimea, it’s easy for Russia to delay ships needing to travel in and out of the Azov Sea. In Nov 2018, numerous Russian naval ships & helicopter gunships attacked and captured three small Ukrainian naval boats near the bridge.
These often long delays cost shipping companies large sums of money in both fuel and time. Naturally this on-going Russian piracy is designed to hinder the prosperity of Ukrainian naval ports. The impact of companies reluctant to buy & ship products from Ukraine’s Azov Sea ports effects future port and region investment, along with hampering significant employment in this coastal area.