June 11, 2016

It's All about Details-2, or: Russia Has Two Misfortunes — Fools and Roads

Yuriy Radkovets

 

Now the Russian Federation's extremely important issue around the Crimean Peninsula is the question of construction of a strategic transport-bridge crossing(Kerch bridge) from mainland Russia to the occupied Ukrainian Crimea, as one of the main Kremlin's project, which should allow to establish V. Putin's regime's full control over the Crimean Peninsula.

 

According to the plan of the project, the transport-bridge crossing should span the Strait of Kerch between the Kerch Taman Peninsulas through the Island of Tuzla and Tuzla Spit. It is expected that the construction of the Kerch bridge should give impetus to economic development of the Crimea and the Krasnodar Krai (Territory).

This ambitious project will be implemented in a short time: by the end of 2018 the road part of the bridge is to be launched, and in 2019 — the railway one. The bridge and road approaches to it should be part of motorway A-290 "Kerch-Novorossiysk".

At the same time, due to banal lack of funds — the funding for this project has now ceased. According to informed Russian sources, the last time the money was allocated for the construction of the bridge in December 2015. This year, 65.4 billion rubles (almost 1 billion US dollars) were planned to be allocated, but due to the actual lack of funds in the Russian Federation's state budget, the Kremlin can't do it.

It is known that the "Stroygazmontazh" company (belonging to Arkadiy Rotenberg — a billionaire from Vladimir Putin's inner circle) in January 2015 received a general contract for the construction of the road and rail bridge across the Kerch Strait, connecting the Crimea and Kuban, worth about 230 billion rubles (3.5 billion US dollars). The construction of the bridge involves more than 150 companies, about 2,200 construction workers and more than 220 units of special equipment. As of today, more than 800 tons of steel structures have been brought to the construction site to build the span sections. However, to date the company "Stroygazmontazh" cannot continue the construction of the Kerch bridge at the planned pace, nor can it invest into the purchase of expensive construction machinery and equipment due to the delay in payment for the work performed, at this, the company's own resources, according to the company's management — have been "completely exhausted".

As stated by the management of "Stroygazmontazh", the previously allocated small advance money has long been completely spent, while the construction keeps being short of expensive equipment. According to experts, for the normal dynamics of the work there must be at least 30 heavy caterpillar tracked cranes (so far there are about 10) and at least 30 hydraulic hammers with striking force of 35 tons (there are 2 times fewer, and due to the problematic soils, they are constantly out of order). Now buying such equipment is not easy at all: it all is of foreign make and almost all is "single-item production" (by the way, in the spring of 2014 "Stroygazmontazh" and A. Rotenberg were included into the USA's sanctions list) — especially because it takes the ordered equipment 4 to 7 months to be delivered.

At the same time, the key spending unit (the RF Ministry of Transport) and the customer ("Rosavtodor") have not been able to solve the question of the payment by the company "Stroygazmontazh" for the performed work, since February 2016.

According to independent experts, the summer-autumn 2016 — is the best period for erection of the supports of the road part of the bridge, because in October-November, with the beginning of the season of storms, the working hours at the construction site will be reduced by at least one-third.

 

As for the state of practical implementation of Russia's another strategic project (to connect the Crimea at the end of 2015 to the Russian main power) — namely, the construction of the so-called "Kerch energy bridge" (laying of a special high-power electrical cable at the bottom of the Black Sea), the situation is similar.

In 2015 and in winter of 2015/2016, we all witnessed the "guaranteed" electricity supply of the occupied Crimea from Russia. The locals of the Crimea have never met such problems in electricity supply. That is why, since the beginning of 2016, Russian businesses have already started to conduct secret negotiations with business circles in Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic and other countries), as well as in Japan and China, on purchasing powerful diesel-electric power stations which they plan to use on the Crimean Peninsula for the next cold season. How they will do it under the sanctions — is hard to say, but this year they still are not so sure that the long-promised and so much expected "Kerch energy bridge" will be constructed.

According to recent data from the Russian Federation, the electric "supercable", at best, could be laid through the Kerch Strait by the autumn of this year. But mounting of the distribution network from it (if they do make it to the coast of the Crimea) is promised not sooner than the end of 2017. But apart from this, they have to build a power transmission line (PTL "Rostov-Taman" — 500 kW) on the Russian shore to supply electricity to the Crimean Peninsula. Completion of the construction of this 500 km long transmission line is expected by the end of 2020.

So, this strategic Russian project has turned out, as always, the Putin's Kremlin's next bluff or rather, another lie of the Russian president's environment.

 

So, in the construction of strategic for Russia facilities, there is a created artificially extremely critical situation, which fully confirms the apocryphal phrase attributed to different historical figures: "Russia has two misfortunes fools and roads".

But much better and much more openly this was expressed by the famous Russian aphorist Boris Krutier: "Apart from fools and roads, Russia has one more problem: the fools telling which road to choose".

What do you think?

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