"Russia is deliberately destabilizing the situation in the [Sea of] Azov region. Their goal is to do everything possible so that people lose their jobs, as well as to create a socio-economic cataclysm, resulting in protest of people who demand better working conditions," Ukraine's Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelian told a Ukrainian TV channel on Nov. 14, Censor.NET reports citing UNIAN.
"I am grateful to both the United States and the European Commission that made clear statements, namely that this is the continuation of the hybrid war. Sanctions against Russian ports in the Sea of Azov are being seriously discussed now. I hope that the same steps with be made with regard to those in the Black Sea region. This will hit [Russia] in the wallet," he said.
The minister added that the Russian side continues to detain the vessels heading to the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.
"They involve all their military forces to stop even for a while the civilian ships heading to our ports. The logic is very simple: they increase the price of logistics. After all, the demurrage of a vessel is estimated at $15,000-50,000 per day. The situation affected many European companies that receive products from our ports. This contributed to conveying our position to the European Commission. They realized that due to the Russian blockade, European taxpayers pay more for Ukrainian goods. Therefore, they began to speak quite differently," he said.
According to Omelian, the Russian blockade has caused losses at about 1 billion hryvnia ($35.8 million). At the same time, the minister says the fright traffic to the Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov will be resumed next year.
"I hope that after the situation is settled, we will be able to restore freight traffic, and cargo turnover will be resumed in the ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk. I think it will be next year," he added.
As reported, the infrastructure minister in September called on the world community to support Ukraine's efforts against actions of the Russian Federation which impede peaceful navigation in the north-eastern part of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and destabilize the situation in the Ukrainian sea ports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Kerch Straight Bridge on May 15. He announced the need to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait immediately after the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Originally, the bridge was expected to be built before 2018 and put into operation in the summer of 2019. The bridge affected the work of Ukrainian ports in Mariupol and Berdiansk as not all ships can pass under it. As of the second half of April, Russian coast guards launched inspections of foreign vessels bound for and heading from the ports of Ukraine.