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Ukraine intends to exclude Crimean harbors from international navigation

July 07, 2014, 16:13 UTC+3
The measure will affect harbors of Yevpatoria, Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosia and Yalta
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Sevastopol harbor

Sevastopol harbor

© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin

KIEV, July 7. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine intends to exclude sea harbors of Crimea from international navigation, the press service of Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry reported on Monday.

The ministry said the relevant order “On closing sea harbors” dated June 16 and registered in the Justice Ministry June 24 would come into effect after its official publication.

The order will concern harbors of Yevpatoria, Kerch, Sevastopol, Feodosia and Yalta.

In May, Ukraine reported to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that it was preparing a ruling on closure of Crimean harbors.


“Occupied territory”

April 28, the parliament-appointed interim President of Ukraine and Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov signed a bill “On providing rights and freedoms of citizens and on the legal status of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”. Under this law, Crimea and Sevastopol were declared occupied territories.

According to the law, the national waters and the territorial sea of Ukraine, the underwater space within the territorial sea, as well as the air space around them are also deemed as such territories. In total, Kiev estimated the loss of Crimea at $100 billion.

International organizations, in particular, the IMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) took the side of Kiev. Since March 12, 2014, the Ukrainian authorities closed the airdromes of Simferopol, Sevastopol and the lower airspace over Crimea insisting that they remained under the responsibility of Ukrainian air traffic controllers, who were not able to perform their duties after Crimea’s accession to Russia.

However, July 3, ICAO ruled that Russia should ensure air navigation service over Crimea and territorial waters (a 12-mile area), and Ukraine should do this over neutral waters, but with regard to technical agreement with Russia over the air navigation service. Meanwhile, Kiev insists that ICAO has not changed its stance.


Crimean harbors’ operation

According to the Administration of Sea Harbors of Ukraine, the freight traffic of Crimean harbors in the first quarter of 2014 dropped by 28.1% year on year and amounted to 2.1 million tonnes. In late May, head of the republic’s Ministry of Crimea Yuriy Shevchenko stated that there is almost no cargo transshipment from the peninsula since the harbors were transshipping mostly Ukrainian freights, and the freight traffic with Ukraine is in fact suspended.

Shevchenko believes the priority task for the Ministry of Transport of Crimea is to restore harbor capacities for internal needs of the peninsula, and it’s early to talk about a large-scale development of harbors in the function of export ports. Even taking into account the prospects of building a bridge over the Kerch Strait, the freight traffic from the peninsula to continental Russia is restricted.

May 15, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea Rustam Temirgaliyev stated that the harbors of Feodosia and Yevpatoria located within the limits of the city would cease to exist. In mid-May, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted that after the peninsula’s accession, Russia acquired a significant amount of deep-water ports on the Black Sea, but did not exclude that in several years it would be possible to return to the project of construction a deep-water port near Yevpatoria involving Chinese investors.

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