Ukraine Complains Russia Uses Crimea Bridge to Disrupt Shipping

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine complained that Russia is using its new bridge to Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014, to delay its neighbor’s ships, exert political pressure and hurt its economy.

Ukraine’s State Border Service said Wednesday that inspections of vessels have risen sharply since the 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge across the Kerch Strait to Russia’s mainland was officially opened in May. Waiting times can be as long as three days, according to spokesman Oleh Slobodyan.

“The creeping hybrid blockade of the Azov Sea has been going on since late spring,” Slobodyan told reporters in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine prompted U.S. and European Union sanctions that are still in place. The bridge was a priority for President Vladimir Putin because his country shares no land border with the peninsula. Petro Poroshenko, his Ukrainian counterpart, said this month that he won’t accept the “illegal seizure of Ukrainian and foreign vessels moving in the direction of Ukrainian ports.”

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