Russia's Economic War Against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov as of February 1, 2020. The Technology of Blocking the Mariupol and Berdiansk Ports


Andrii Klymenko, Tetyana Guchakova, Olga Korbut
The Monitoring group of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies and BlackSeaNews​

The Monitoring group of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies and BlackSeaNews are glad to share with you the latest in a series of our monthly studies on Russia's economic war against Ukraine at the Sea of Azov.

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October 1-20 , 22-31, as well as throughout the whole November, December  2018, Jan 19 – Jan 2020, - there have been no open-sea detentions at all – the result of the UNF exercises and ships presence.

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Important Comment

The standard procedure defined by the rules of the Kerch port is as follows: 48 hours prior to the vessel approaching the Kerch Strait, its captain or the ship’s agent has to inform the captain of the seaport about it and copy the info to the Traffic Control Service of the Kerch VTS.   The information should then be confirmed 24 hours prior to approaching the Strait and later detailed four hours before. 

That means that by the time the vessel approaches the strait, the port must deliver a pilot to it without the ship having to anchor. 

Anchoring should occur only upon:

waiting for the pilot when he did not arrive on time; 
waiting for the oncoming caravan due to one-way traffic in the strait – crossing the Kerch Strait from buoy to buoy takes 2 to 3 hours; 
waiting for the arrival of the  FSB Coast Guard boat, inspection and corresponding report from the FSB to the port dispatcher (not required by the port of Kerch regulations) 
and finally, stormy weather when the pilot's boat cannot go to sea.

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Artificial Delays of Vessels en Route to Mariupol and Berdiansk at the Sea of Azov Entrance from 01.07.18 to 01.02.2020, hrs.

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Artificial Delays of Vessels at the Exit from the Sea of Azov  to the Black Sea from 01.07.18 to 01.02.2020, hrs.

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The Correlation between the Duration of Vessels Delays in the Kerch Strait and the Cargo Turnover of the Ports on the Sea of Azov

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The Comparison of the Monthly Cargo Turnover of the Mariupol port in 2013-2019, thousand tons

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Economic indicators of the Mariupol port and the Kerch bridge

2016

18.02.2016 - the bridge parameters were officially approved, the construction began in the Kerch Strait (pile driving). 
April 2016 - the first pillar. 
June 2016 - the installation of the first spans.

2017

16.08. 2017 - all piles of the road bridge were installed.  
29.08. 2017 - the installation of the railway arch was completed. 
12.10. 2017 - the installation of the auto arch was completed. 
04.12. 2017 - all the pillars of the road bridge and 50% of the pillars of the railway bridge were constructed.
20.12.2017 - the road bridge span was completed.

2018

15.05.2018 - the inauguration of the road bridge (V. Putin). 
16.05.2018 - the bridge was opened for vehicles under 3.5 t.
17.05.2018 - the first vessel was delayed at the Sea of Azov. 
01.10.2018 - the bridge was opened for vehicles over 3.5 t.

2019

24.03.2019 - the construction of railway spans was completed.
18.07.2019 - the railway track laying was completed.
23.12.2019 - the railway bridge is opened for passenger trains (V. Putin).  
The opening of the bridge for freight trains is scheduled for 1 July 2020.

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15.05. 2018 - a “special operations forces” brigade was created in Kerch to guard the Crimean bridge - the 115th separate special operations brigade of the National Guard of the Russian Federation (Rosgvardiya). 

At the end of November 2019, the formation of the brigade was completed.

The brigade was composed of:

• a naval detachment (the 39th naval detachment - military unit number 6942, Kerch, has four anti-sabotage boats, Project 21980 “Grachonok”),
• a regiment of the National Guard Forces Command of the Russian Federation, operational, special, and patrol units.

Moreover, the Crimean bridge is guarded by:

• the Kerch detachment of border patrol vessels of the Coast Guard of the Border Service of the FSB of the RF;
• Temriuk detachment of border patrol vessels of the Coast Guard of the RF;
• the 184th Coastal Defence Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, the place of permanent deployment - Novorossiysk (rotation);
• the 68th Coastal Defence Brigade, the place of permanent deployment - Sevastopol (rotation);
• Su-27 fighter aircrafts and Il-38 anti-submarine warfare aircraft (regular patrols);
• the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems and the Pantsir-S1 missile systems.

For the security of the bridge, at the end of October 2019, the Russian Federation prohibited all watercraft from the navigation across the Kerch Strait in the area near the bridge - along the entire bridge, except the navigable passage under the arches (see the map).

The prohibition does not apply to ships, boats, and vessels of the National Guard of Russia, the Navy, the FSB ships and vessels, and vessels involved in the technological process of the bridge maintenance across the Kerch Strait.

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The share of the ports on the Sea of​​Azov
in the total cargo traffic of Ukrainian ports, 2019, million tons, %

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Delays of EU-Vessels from 01.05.2019 to 31.01.2020 (hrs.)

For the purposes of the Sea of Azov blockade statistics, the Monitoring Group considers the following ship categories as those related to the EU countries: ships under the EU state flags; ships owned by companies registered in an EU state and  vessels bound for an EU state port.

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Delays of ALL the vessels and EU-Vessels from 01.05.2018 to 31.12.2019

For the purposes of the Sea of Azov blockade statistics, the Monitoring Group considers the following ship categories as those related to the EU countries: ships under the EU state flags; ships owned by companies registered in an EU state and  vessels bound for an EU state port.

For the entire period (1.05.18 - 31.12.19), the total number of vessels that were artificially held at anchorage in the Kerch Strait en route to Mariupol / Berdiansk (see Region 1 on the map) for longer than usual while waiting for the permit to pass through the Kerch Strait = 1079, 
including vessels under the EU states flags = 207  (19.2%); 
vessels owned by the EU states*  = 339  (31.4%).

The total number of vessels that were artificially held at anchorage near the Kerch Strait en route from Mariupol / Berdiansk (see Region 3 on the map) -  for longer than usual while waiting for the permit to pass through the Kerch Strait = 1060,
including vessels under the EU states flags = 190  (17.9%); 
vessels owned by the EU states*  = 360  (33.9%); 
vessels carrying Ukrainian cargoes bound for an EU state port = 418 (39.4%).

The total number of vessels that were delayed at the Sea of Azov (see Region 2 on the map) = 110,
Including those related to the EU countries = 56 

The total number of cases of the obstruction of the freedom of navigation to / from the Ukrainian ports on the Azov Sea by the RF from May 17, 2018 to December 31, 2019 = 2249

On average, for the period from 17.05.18 to 31.12.19, each vessel lost extra 4 days per voyage because of the artificial delays, which cost approximately $40,000 per vessel. The total amount of shipowners' losses due to artificial delays can be estimated at approximately $ 45,000,000.
 

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