Russia-Crimea underwater telecom cable ready, as Ukraine crisis intensifies
State-owned Rostelecom South has nearly completed the 40 kilometers of fiber-optic cable from the Krasnadar region and the 6 kilometers through the Kerch Straight, Kommersant reports citing a source close to the company.
The underwater section that runs along the muddy seabed of the Kerch Straight is expected to cost between $11-25 million.
“Now that tensions between Russia and Ukraine are high, the connection to Crimea via the straight isn’t without risk: it could always be cut off,” Evgeny Yurchenko, Rostelecom’s former director and minority shareholder said, as quoted by Kommersant.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Rostelecom operations in Crimea should be sped up when he visited Simferopol, the administrative capital, on March 24. That was shortly after the region voted to join the Russian Federation in a referendum vote.
Medvedev said it was unacceptable for Crimea’s information and documents to be operated by two separate states, and that foreign operators shouldn’t be trusted to handle “confidential” exchanges.
The communications project is part of the $6.8 billion Russia plans to invest in Crimea in 2014.
A road and rail bridge have been given the green light by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bridge will cost an estimated $78 million, according to Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov. A tunnel is also an option. The first 4.5 kilometer Kerch Straight Bridge was built in the summer of 1944 after the liberation of Crimea by the Red Army, but collapsed 6 months later.
A new gas pipeline to deliver natural gas from Russia to Crimea could cost between $200 million and $1 billion, depending on the complexity of and route of the pipeline.