Amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, intercepted communications reveal Russian and Chinese business figures, with government ties, contemplating constructing an underwater tunnel to link Russia to Crimea.
The project, if realized, would provide Russia with a secure transport route, addressing its concerns about the vulnerability of the Kerch Strait bridge to Ukrainian attacks. The bridge has been a critical supply line for Russian military operations but is under threat from Ukraine.
China's Unofficial Support to Russia
Despite China's official non-recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, the intercepted emails suggest that a prominent Chinese construction company, the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), is ready to participate in the tunnel project.
These emails, provided to The Washington Post by Ukrainian officials, covered discussions about CRCC's capabilities and its willingness to ensure confidentiality due to the potential risk of sanctions.
The Challenges Ahead
The proposed tunnel brings with it substantial political, financial, and engineering challenges, especially considering the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. U.S. officials and experts have questioned the feasibility of such an ambitious project in a war zone.
The tunnel's realization would practically signify Russia's intent to solidify its hold on Crimea and its reliance on Chinese support, despite the potential backlash for China, which could face international sanctions for engaging with Russian annexation efforts.
Russia-Ukraine Conflict Continues
Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war continues unabated, with recent developments including Ukrainian air shield strengthening,
Russian attacks, and the formation of an air defence coalition. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope for negotiations to end the conflict, acknowledging the breakthrough in talks in Istanbul.
However, the conflict's human toll is evident, with claims of atrocities in Bucha and civilians being evacuated from the Azovstal plant with the help of the UN and Red Cross.