Russia to build ‘underwater tunnel to Crimea costing billions’ thanks to China

Russia is reportedly plotting in secret with China to build a massive underwater tunnel connecting Russia to Crimea.

According to The Washington Post, Ukrainian secret services intercepted communications showing Russian and Chinese business executives, closely linked to each government, have held talks about the plans.

Russia is said to be keen to create a safe transportation route to Crimea. The talks came about following two Ukrainian bomb attacks on the bridge that connects Russia to Crimea over the Kerch Strait.

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Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and the peninsula remains a flash point in the war between the two countries. Experts told The Washington Post the cost of constructing the proposed underwater tunnel – in a war zone – will probably be billions of dollars. It would also take years.

The Washington Post says it corroborated messages indicating one of China’s largest construction companies is willing to participate in the project. The report also claims a Russian-Chinese "consortium" was recently formed in Crimea.

Emails supposedly detail meetings with Chinese delegates in Crimea. In one, the Chinese Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) was reportedly said to be "ready to ensure the construction of railway and road construction projects of any complexity in the Crimean region".

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The Washington Post reports messages also indicated a clear willingness to keep this under wraps – with Chinese firms perhaps wary of getting caught up in the sanctions already imposed on Russia. One email supposedly stated the CRCC are demanding "complete confidentiality", with plans to replace the company's name on contracts also discussed.

One US official expressed surprise that Chinese firms were even interested. They said: "It would be odd that either a consortium of major PRC [People's Republic of China] firms or the government would support such a project. The project would seem like a pretty easy target for Ukrainians to destroy."

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