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Russia, China discuss Russia-Crimea underwater tunnel project

Secret talks between Russian and Chinese executives revealed plans to build a secure underwater tunnel from occupied Crimea to Russia, amid Russia’s concerns about the vulnerability of the Kerch bridge, WP says.
Kerch bridge
Fire at the Kerch bridge after a Ukrainian attack in October 2022. Source.
Russia, China discuss Russia-Crimea underwater tunnel project

Government-linked Russian and Chinese business executives held secret talks regarding constructing an underwater tunnel linking Russia to Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea to create a secure transportation route shielded from potential attacks by Ukraine, as revealed by intercepted communications by Ukraine’s security services, The Washington Post reported.

These discussions, involving meetings held in late October, were prompted by escalating Russian concerns over the security of an 11-mile bridge spanning the Kerch Strait that Russia built after its occupation of Crimea in 2014. This bridge has been a vital logistics route for the Russian military but has endured two bombings by Ukraine and remains susceptible to wartime attacks.

These talks highlight Russia’s resolve to retain control over Crimea, annexed in 2014, and its increasing reliance on China for global support.

“Constructing a tunnel near the existing bridge would face enormous obstacles, according to US officials and engineering experts who said work of such magnitude, probably costing billions of dollars and taking years to complete, has never been attempted in a war zone,” WP wrote.

The project carries political and financial risks for China, given its non-recognition of Russia’s Crimea annexation and potential exposure to US and EU sanctions against Moscow. Nonetheless, intercepted emails suggest a major Chinese construction firm is open to involvement.

According to WP, Ukrainian officials shared these messages with The Washington Post to reveal the project and potential Chinese participation. The messages’ authenticity was confirmed through additional information, including corporate registration records indicating the recent establishment of a Russian-Chinese consortium in Crimea, involving individuals mentioned in the emails.

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