Moscow continues its efforts to strengthen security of the Kerch Strait Bridge that links the Republic of Crimea with mainland Russia.
A checkpoint of the Interior Ministry has been recently established on the Crimean side of the Kerch Strait Bridge, near the city of Kerch. The cost of the project is around 88 million rubles (around 1,350,000 USD).
The decision to establish the checkpoint came in the framework of further actions to esnure security of this key infrastructure object. Russia has been steadily working in this direction. The need of such efforts became obvious on November 25, 2018 when the government of then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko staged a provocation in the Kerch Strait area. As a result of the encounter between Russian coastal guards and the Ukrainian Navy, the Russian side detaned 3 Ukrainian ships.
The campaign to strengthen security in the area as well as in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov continued in late 2018 and early 2018. One of the employed measures is the deployment of additional patrol ships and other forces.
For example, On June 11, the Russian Black Sea Fleet received its latest patrol ship the Project 22160 Dmitryi Rogachev after a flag-raising ceremony at the Novorossiysk Naval Base. The patrol ship Dmitry Rogachev is the second serial ship of the project 22160. The ship was designed and built using the modular concept of weapons. The lead project 22160 Vasily Bykov patrol ship was delivered to the Black Sea Fleet on December 20th, 2018. 4 more patrol ships are expected to be delivered to the Black Sea Fleet between 2020 and 2023
Nonetheless, something strange is happening at the newly established checkpoint at the Kerch Strait Bridge, according to data received by SouthFront from Crimea over the past few weeks.
Accounts of eyewitnesses regarding the situation on the spot generate questions. People leaving Crimea towards mainland Russia are especially concerned. According to their accounts, there is an enormous level of the security at the checkpoint. The situation can be compared with crossing of a state border.
For example, passengers of long-distance regular buses have to leave the vehicles where they pass a portal body scanner. Passengers’ luggage, including hand baggage, is checked via security scanners. Often the baggage becomes a subject to physical inspection. Security service personnel ask passengers to unpack their bags. There is also a total passport control. Documents are checked and scanned. The difference between this and crossing of some state border is that in the case of Crimea there are no visa checks, registration of migration cards and stamping of the corresponding stamps.
Such actions take a significant amount of time from travelers and go contrary to one of the concepts of the Kerch Strait Bridge – a freedom of movement of people across the country. This situation is especially disturbing people of riper years.
Officially, this situation is described as a part of the ongoing campaign to boost security of the infrastructure object and prevent possible incidents, which may appear because of the complicated situation in the region. At the same time, a part of the locals already see this case as a kind of signal of the possible separation or autonomisation of Crimea from Russia.
The explanation, which is closer to the common practice, is the traditional lack of proper performance of the duty and instructions. There are no doubts in the need to ensure security of the bridge. The deployment of additional forces and employment of various means to achieve this goal are logical. However, the practice demonstrates that formalism, spasms of “can-do” spirit and attempts to get nice performance reports may create additional and unexpected tensions in such a sensitive region as Crimea.
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