Ukraine Plays Down Trade Threats From Sea Tensions With Russia

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s central bank played down potential economic risks stemming from the naval clash with Russia, whose disruption of ships around the Azov Sea is affecting local ports.

Even a complete loss of access to the sea would only result in a tiny amount of export losses, the bank said Monday. While metals exports through ports including Mariupol and Berdyansk were about $230 million a month before the flareup, the impact on trade would be much smaller because part of the shipments is being rerouted to the Black Sea, it said.

In November and December, “the estimated effect will be tens of millions of dollars a month,” central bank Deputy Governor Dmytro Sologub told reporters. “It’s not something huge.”

Since building a bridge to the peninsula of Crimea that President Vladimir Putin annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russia has been subjecting shipping to stricter checks. It fired last week on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait between the Azov and Black Seas, a major escalation in a conflict that was cooled by a 2015 peace accord.

While some officials have complained of a blockade, Sologub said it can be “difficult to distinguish” between falls in export revenue that are linked to Russia’s actions rather than unfavorable weather, which is common at this time of the year.

There are “no restrictions” on the passage of vessels through the Kerch Strait, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday on a conference call.

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