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Nov 14, 2022
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Do not load on the side – otherwise they will not be allowed into the Sea of ​​\u200b\u200bAzov

Do not load on the side - otherwise they will not be allowed into the Sea of ​​\u200b\u200bAzov

Photo: Sergey Malgavko/TASS

Russia has banned the passage of ships loaded outside the country through the Kerch Strait to the Sea of ​​Azov, the main department for maritime affairs under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Turkey said.

“According to the official notification we received from the Russian Maritime Administration, the passage of ships loaded outside the territory of Russia to the north through the Kerch Strait, which provides passage to the Sea of ​​Azov, is prohibited. The decision has been announced for our maritime sector,” the statement said.

Recall that after the drone attack on the ships of the Black Sea Fleet on October 29, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the suspension of participation in the grain deal, since the “green corridors” intended for the export of grain were used for the attack, and the attacked ships ensured the safety of these corridors.

Obviously, Moscow fears new provocations. But why now? And who are we making life difficult for? Are there many foreign ships crossing the Kerch Strait today?

“This is a technical solution related to security issues,” I am sure. political scientist, head of the Open Analytics project Roman Travin.

– Implementing it is quite simple, since the entire Sea of ​​\u200b\u200bAzov is now completely controlled by Russia, and we are talking about the only strait through which you can get there. This decision was made in order to secure the ports on the Azov coast and the Crimean bridge. Because it is almost impossible to provide a full inspection of foreign ships, and such a ban, although it does not give a 100% guarantee, nevertheless reduces the risks. Obviously, now such rules will continue as long as there are direct threats to the Crimean bridge.

“I think this is primarily due to the threat of provocations and sabotage, and the fact that after leaving Kherson, it is the Azov coast that becomes the main object of attention for Ukraine and its Western allies,” he says. Advisor to the President of the Russian Association for Baltic Studies Vsevolod Shimov.

“SP”: – What provocations should be feared? Undermining the bridge? Port sabotage? Flooding of ships in order to block the fairway?

Yes, all of the above. The main goal is the blockade of Crimea and the creation of chaos in the Sea of ​​Azov…

However, one must understand that this will cause a congestion of ships awaiting inspection in the waters of the Kerch Strait. Vessels in the roadstead can also become targets of attacks and sabotage.

“SP”: – To whom will it apply? Which countries, what and where are they transported through the Kerch Strait?

— The two main ports on the Sea of ​​Azov are Mariupol and Berdyansk. Under Ukraine, rolled steel, coal and grain were mainly exported through them. As a result of hostilities, the ports suffered little, especially the port of Berdyansk, which was taken without a fight. The water area of ​​the Mariupol port was mined by Ukrainians, but this problem was also solved. Foreign ships, as far as I understand, do not go there now, since the belonging of the former Ukrainian coast to Russia is not officially recognized by anyone, and any carrier is unlikely to want to actually sail to the war zone. Moreover, the port of Mariupol officially resumed functioning only from October 7th. Therefore, apparently, we are talking about Russian ships loaded in foreign ports.

“SP”: – How long will this ban last?

Until stabilization and normalization of the situation. When this happens, today it is unlikely that anyone will undertake to say.

“The decision is definitely the right one,” he says. historian, publicist, permanent expert of the Izborsk club Alexander Dmitrievsky.

– The fact is that secretly hiding a remotely controlled explosive device among the cargo on a ship is not a problem, and the power of its charge can be made many times greater – compared to what the terrorists had already used during the undermining of the Crimean bridge. For example, the same refrigerated containers can be used as such a hiding place: they are connected to the onboard power supply and are usually located in the upper tiers. At the same time, in the event of an explosion, damage will be caused to those spans of the bridge that are located above the fairway.
“SP”: – Who will suffer from this ban?
— The Sea of ​​Azov is the gateway to the Caspian, so there may be some inconvenience for Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan. However, it is difficult to call these inconveniences big.
Firstly, the Sea of ​​Azov is very shallow, so ocean-class ships cannot pass through the Kerch Strait, and those that can are not so cost-effective for intercontinental transportation. So, the Caspian countries obviously cannot do without transshipment of goods in the ports of Russia or Georgia. As for Iran, its main ports are located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea is practically used for trade with its northern neighbors.

Secondly, there are many other logistics corridors with good capacity: for example, the countries of the Caspian basin have well-developed rail links, trains from Kazakhstan go to China, and from Turkmenistan to Iran.
“SP”: – Isn’t it more expedient to just check more carefully?
– A counter question: how to technically implement this at sea, and not at the pier? Especially if loading and unloading is required…

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