Russia To Build New Railway & Highway Linking Crimea With Rostov-On-Don

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Construction work has begun on a new railway project that will connect Russia’s Rostov-on-Don with Crimea, traversing the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Zaporozhye Region. Evgeny Balitsky,  the Governor of the Russian occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast says the new transportation artery will improve the economic outlook of the area.

Speaking on Monday, Balitsky said “the railway will go from Akimovka [in Zaporozhye Region] to Rostov via Berdyansk [in Zaporozhye region] and Mariupol [in the DPR).” He added that construction work was already underway near Donetsk.  

The new line will be a safe distance away from the front line of the conflict, meaning that Ukrainian shelling should not pose a threat to trains, Balitsky said. He also pointed out that the existing rail infrastructure was already obsolete. The Donbass region – which is ethnically Russian, has long complained that Kiev financially neglected the area due to its pro-Russian views.    

Balitsky expressed confidence that the project would have a positive impact on the region’s economy, allowing for the transportation of grain, coal and iron ore to mainland Russia. He noted that, while this can already be done via the Crimean Bridge, the existing route isn’t optimal. 

He also revealed plans to build a highway linking Rostov-on-Don and Dzhankoi, Crimea. When completed, the road will more than double the number of vehicles passing through Zaporozhye Region. 

Balitsky also mentioned Melitopol airport, saying that while it cannot be used at present due to Ukrainian shelling, he hopes it will one day become an important transportation hub and even the base for an airline. 

Russia has already passed sovereign investment laws to help redevelop the regions. 

When Crimea returned to Russia in 2014, the region was declared a special economic zone and investment money poured into the peninsula. as from 2019, Crimea is one of the fastest growing regions of Russia.   

Zaporozhye Region, along with Kherson Region and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, were integrated into Russia following referendums held there last September, while Crimea did the same back in 2014. 

Kiev insists that all these territories are part of its sovereign territory, temporarily occupied by Russia. Most countries have also refused to recognize the regions’ status as Russian, an issue that may change should the conflict be resolved.

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