Tuzla Island: conflict between Ukraine and Russia

Tuzla Island: conflict between Ukraine and Russia
Tuzla Island: conflict between Ukraine and Russia

Tuzla Island is small: about six kilometers long and no more than five hundred meters wide, such an oblong strip of sand between the Taman Peninsula and the Crimea. By itself, this piece of land is not of particular value, only its place on the geographical map is important. In 2003, this island became famous all over the world. The Ukrainian parliament was seething, one deputy suggested giving “to the guts for Tuzla”, another introduced the neologism “to be pissed off”. There were also other phonetic-linguistic playfulness, not inferior in elegance to the above. Russian politicians were not inferior to their Ukrainian counterparts in their desire to demonstrate courageous brutality and militancy.

tuzla island

The weather on the island is normal…

In an area of ​​three and a half square kilometers, in principle, a small town can fit. This is if this territory was inhabited by the Japanese, for example, or representatives of some other people who value land above personal comfort. For Ukraine, a rather large country, this appendage to the peninsula, received after the collapse of the USSR, had rather a symbolic meaning. Live here practicallyimpossible: when it storms, half of the area is hidden under water. In addition, the sea takes its toll: in the five years preceding the dispute, one square kilometer of land was washed away by waves. Reinforcement work was slow, they were limited to the installation of reinforced concrete slabs. During periods of seasonal storms, the territory was actually separated from the "mainland", but this did not interfere with the inhabitants who inhabited the island of Tuzla, who were ready for hardships. The recreation center "Two Seas" of the Kerch port and another, factory, "Albatross", a fishing settlement and a border outpost coexisted peacefully on a small piece of land. It even had its own shop, which worked, however, only during the warmer months.

tuzla island bridge

Starting a dispute

Nothing at first glance foreshadowed any friction between the two fraternal states. This is not such an important piece of territory … Russia has come to terms with the loss of Crimea, not to mention such an insignificant and sparsely populated object as the island of Tuzla. The conflict arose in the autumn months of 2003, after the Ukrainian border guards saw through binoculars, and later with the naked eye, that a certain hydraulic structure was approaching them from the adjacent side, and quite quickly, at one and a half hundred meters a day. The military did not know how to react to what was happening, and reported their observations to higher authorities. That, in turn, informed Kyiv. Through diplomatic channels, the government of Ukraine demanded clarifications from the Russian side and received them. The structure under construction is called a dam, it is being built to improve the environmental situation in the water areaSea of ​​Azov. However, this explanation did not satisfy the Ukrainian leadership, they saw in the actions of Russian hydro-builders an expansive encroachment on the island of Tuzla. And there were grounds for such an assumption.

tuzla island conflict


Painful attitude towards issues of territorial integrity was characteristic of all administrations, starting with Kravchuk, who occupied offices on Bankova Street in Kyiv. The controversy of the eligibility of joining the Crimean Autonomous Okrug to the Ukrainian SSR was indeed a “trump card” for politicians in Russia, especially during the pre-election period, and the same role was assigned to the counterarguments of their Ukrainian colleagues, who stood on an ultrapatriotic platform. Objectively, the Taman coast and the island of Tuzla until 1925 were one whole, until the deep sea swallowed up part of the narrow isthmus. Legally, the arguments in favor of Ukraine's belonging to this territory are not flawless, but it has been the custom since 1991 that any ambiguities were interpreted in favor of the "younger brothers". During the Yeltsin period, even the city of Sevastopol, which was not formally part of the Crimean Autonomous Okrug, was transferred to Ukraine, although Russia could defend it in international arbitration courts.

taman coast and tuzla island

Economic background of the conflict

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine over the island of Tuzla also had quite utilitarian reasons - at least two.

Firstly, the country to which it belongs actually and legally controls shipping through the Kerch Strait, which means revenue to the budgetone and a half tens of millions of US dollars annually.

Secondly, the island of Tuzla, according to all international legal norms, sets the line of the border of territorial waters. Under the existing status, most of the fish we alth of the Sea of ​​Azov fell into the zone of economic interests of Ukraine.

Thus, the island of Tuzla has turned from an almost useless patch of sandbar in the Soviet years into a strategically important object of international law.

tuzla island recreation center two seas

Possible actions

The underwater topography of the section of the seabed adjacent to Tuzla and covering the Kerch Strait, in a sense, provoked the conflict. The fact is that the most deep-sea and fish-rich areas went to Ukraine, while the Russian Federation got shallow water. Actually, the Russians could easily solve this issue in a different way, simply by deepening their section of the bottom. In this case, the boundary of territorial waters would not be violated, but another problem would arise regarding the very existence of these very fish resources. Fishing is most effective in the western, deep-water part of the strait. But fish spawn in the Russian shallow water. If there are no conditions for this, then there will be, as they say in Odessa, “nothing to catch” (only in the most direct sense). And the fish factories were located mainly in the Crimea, then Ukrainian. It should be noted that the Russian side did not take such a devastating step for the environment.

Conflict development and mutual squabble

About actually conducting any kind of hostilities, and, of course, there is no questioncould. To attack the mobile mechanized columns of Russian hydraulic builders would mean committing a clear act of aggression, the construction of the dam was going on in adjacent territorial waters. In this case, Russia's retaliatory measures would most likely be very tough. Another thing is rhetoric. From TV screens, newspaper pages and other Ukrainian media, there were calls to stand up "as one" and protect the island of Tuzla. The conflict came in handy for the bored Russian politicians of the scandalous-radical persuasion, who called for "a lesson" and "punishment".

dispute between russia and ukraine over tuzla island

Importance of Tuzla today

Russia made concessions in 2003 and recognized Ukraine's rights to the island of Tuzla. The hydroconstruction was completed a hundred meters from the border of territorial waters. According to experts, today the dam is successfully fulfilling its ecological function, that is, it prevents the erosion of the Russian coast and further shallowing of the water area adjacent to it. Today, against the backdrop of the latest Crimean and Eastern Ukrainian events, they don’t even remember her. As they say, compared to a lost head, a spoiled hairstyle does not play a role. On the other hand, the task of reorienting the peninsula torn away from Ukraine and annexed to Russia to the mainland has become urgent. The narrowest point of the sea water barrier is the Kerch Strait, in the center of which is the island of Tuzla. The bridge connecting the two banks will most likely pass here.

how to get to tuzla island

Prospects of the island

Most likely, there will be two bridges, at least this project is recognized as the most optimal, given the prospective loading of the overpass. In addition to road communication, it is proposed to organize a railway one. Estimated construction time is four years. The route passes through the spit and the dam in two sections (1400 and 6100 meters). The railroad tracks must be electrified. Thus, the island of Tuzla again acquires strategic importance. The bridge will connect the Krasnodar Territory with the Crimean Region and provide opportunities for communication between the mainland and the peninsula, independent of the political situation.

In the meantime, the design of the future grandiose building is underway, mainly tourists come here. It is very beautiful here, relatively deserted, clean water, swimming, however, in some places it is dangerous due to strong currents. The question of how to get to the island of Tuzla is solved simply: a small boat goes here from Kerch.

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