Kerch Strait

The Kerch Strait (Russian: Керченский пролив, Ukrainian: Керченська протока, Crimean Tatar: Keriç boğazı) is a strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar Krai in the east. The strait is 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) wide and up to 18 metres (59 ft) deep.

The most important harbor, the Crimean city of Kerch, gives its name to the strait, formerly known as the Cimmerian Bosporus. The Krasnodar Krai side of the strait contains the Taman Bay encircled by Tuzla Island and the 2003 Russian-built 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi)-long dam to the south and Chushka Spit to the north. Russia had started the construction of a major cargo port near Taman, the most important Russian settlement on the strait.

Kerch Strait
Kerch Strait, Ukraine, Russia, near natural colors satellite image, LandSat-5, 2011-08-30
Landsat satellite photo
Kerch Strait is located in Europe
Kerch Strait
Kerch Strait
Coordinates45°15′N 36°30′E / 45.250°N 36.500°ECoordinates: 45°15′N 36°30′E / 45.250°N 36.500°E
Max. length35 km (22 mi)
Max. width3.1 to 15 km (1.9 to 9.3 mi)
Average depth18 m (59 ft)
IslandsTuzla Island
Locatie Straat van Kertsj
Location of Kerch Strait
Kertši väin
Kerch Strait. View of the port in Crimea


Map of Colchis, Iberia, Albania, and the neighbouring countries ca 1770
The "Cimmerian Bosphorus" of antiquity, shown on a map printed in London, c. 1770.

The straits are about 35 kilometers (22 mi) long and are 3.1 kilometers (1.9 mi) wide at the narrowest and separate an eastern extension of Crimea from Taman, the westernmost extension of the Caucasus Mountains. In antiquity, there seem to have been a group of islands intersected by arms of the Kuban River (Hypanis) and various sounds which have since silted up.[1] The Romans knew the strait as the Cimmerian Bosporus (Cimmerianus Bosporus) from its Greek name, the Cimmerian Strait (Κιμμέριος Βόσπορος, Kimmérios Bosporos), which honored the Cimmerians, nearby steppe nomads.[2] In ancient times the low-lying land near the Strait was known as the Maeotic Swamp.[3][4]

During the Second World War, the Kerch Peninsula became the scene of much desperate combat between forces of the Soviet Red Army and Nazi Germany. Fighting frequency intensified in the coldest months of year when the strait froze over, allowing the movement of troops over the ice.[5]

After the Eastern Front stabilized in early 1943, Hitler ordered the construction of a 4.8-kilometre (3.0 mi) road-and-rail bridge across the Strait of Kerch in the spring of 1943 to support his desire for a renewed offensive to the Caucasus. The cable railway (aerial tramway), which went into operation on 14 June 1943 with a daily capacity of one thousand tons, was only adequate for the defensive needs of the Seventeenth Army in the Kuban bridgehead. Because of frequent earth tremors, this bridge would have required vast quantities of extra-strength steel girders, and their transport would have curtailed shipments of military material to the Crimea. The bridge was never completed, and the Wehrmacht finished evacuating the Kuban bridgehead in September 1943.[6]

In 1944 the Soviets built a "provisional" railway bridge (Kerch railroad bridge) across the strait. Construction made use of supplies captured from the Germans. The bridge went into operation in November 1944, but moving ice floes destroyed it in February 1945; reconstruction was not attempted.[7]

A territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine in 2003 centred on Tuzla Island in the Strait of Kerch. Ukraine and Russia agreed to treat the strait and the Azov Sea as shared internal waters.[8]

Storm of November 2007

On Sunday 11 November 2007 news agencies reported a very strong storm on the Black Sea. Four ships sank, six ran aground on a sandbank, and two tankers were damaged, resulting in a major oil spill and the death of 23 sailors.[9]

The Russian-flagged oil tanker Volgoneft-139 encountered trouble in the Kerch Strait where it sought shelter from the above storm.[10] During the storm the tanker split in half, releasing more than 2000 tonnes of fuel oil. Four other boats sank in the storm, resulting in the release of sulphur cargo. The storm hampered efforts to rescue crew members.[11][12] Another victim of the storm, the Russian cargo ship Volnogorsk, loaded with sulfur, sank at Port Kavkaz on the same day.[13]

Strait of Kerch
Kerch Strait. View from the Crimean coast

Ferry and bridge transportation

After the war, ferry transportation across the strait was established in 1952, connecting Crimea and the Krasnodar Krai (Port KrymPort Kavkaz line). Originally there were four train ferry ships; later three car-ferry ships were added. Train transportation continued for almost 40 years. The aging train-ferries became obsolete in the late 1980s and were removed from service. In the autumn of 2004, new ships were delivered as replacements and train transportation was re-established.

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov campaigned for a highway bridge to be constructed across the strait. Since 1944, various bridge projects to span the strait have been proposed or attempted, always hampered by the difficult geologic and geographic configuration of the area. Construction of an approach was actually started in 2003 with the 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi)-long dam, provoking the 2003 Tuzla Island conflict.[14]

After the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea the government of Russia decided to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. The 19-kilometre Crimean Bridge opened to road traffic in May 2018 and the rail section is expected to be operational in 2019.

Russian state-backed media claims that construction of the bridge caused increases in nutrients and planktons in the waters, attracting large numbers of fish and more than 1,000 of endangered Black Sea bottlenose dolphins.[15] However, Ukraine claims that the acoustic noise and pollution from both the bridge construction and military exercises may actually be killing Black Sea dolphins.[16]

On December 4, 2018 it was reported that at least 34 member countries of the International Maritime Organization supported Ukraine with respect to Russia’s armed military attack on Ukrainian vessels in Ukrainian and international waters near the Kerch Strait that occurred on November 25, 2018.[17]

Kerch–Yenikale Canal

Kerch aivazovsky
View across the strait in 1839, by Ivan Aivazovsky

In order to improve navigational capabilities of the Strait of Kerch, which is quite shallow in its narrowest point, the Kerch–Yenikale Canal was dredged through the strait. The canal can accommodate vessels up to 215 meters long with a draft of up to 8 meters with a compulsory pilot assistance.


Several fish-processing plants are located on the Crimean coast of the strait. The fishing season begins in late autumn and lasts for 2 to 3 months, when many seiners put out into the strait to fish. The Taman Bay is a major fishing ground, with many fishing villages scattered along the coast.


  1. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainMinns, Ellis (1911). "Bosporus Cimmerius" . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 286–287.
  2. ^ Anthon, Charles (1872) "Cimmerii" A Classical Dictionary: Containing an Account of the Principal Proper Names Mentioned in Ancient Authors (4th ed.) p. 349-350.
  3. ^ "Hun". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  4. ^ "Etruscan_Phrases, research providing new insight into Indo-European languages". 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  5. ^ Command Magazine, Hitler's Army: The Evolution and Structure of German Forces, Da Capo Press (2003), ISBN 0-306-81260-6, ISBN 978-0-306-81260-6, p. 264
  6. ^ Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer, Chapter 19, pg. 270 (1969, English translation 1970)
  7. ^ Мост через пролив. KERCH.COM.UA (in Russian). KERCH.COM.UA. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Ukraine on cooperation in the use of the sea of Azov and the strait of Kerch". Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  9. ^ (in French) Marée noire: plus de 33.000 t de déchets pétroliers ramassés sur les plages du détroit de Kertch, 28 November 2007
  10. ^ Chris Baldwin (12 November 2007). "Russia Tries to Contain Oil Spill, Save Seamen". Reuters. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Fuel spill disaster reported in waters near Russia". CNN. 11 November 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  12. ^ Arkady Irshenko (11 November 2007). "Russian oil tanker splits in half". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  13. ^ В порту "Кавказ" затонул сухогруз c серой, (11 November 2007)
  14. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition
  15. ^ Goldman E.. 2017. Crimean bridge construction boosts dolphin population in Kerch Strait. The Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved on March 10, 2017
  16. ^ "Ukrainian scientist: Dolphins in the Black Sea are dying because of the construction of the Kerch Strait bridge and military exercises". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  17. ^ Ukraine appeals to International Maritime Organization over Russian aggression, Ukrinform (4 December 2018)
Battle of Kerch Strait

Battle of Kerch Strait may refer to:

Battle of Kerch Strait (1774)

Battle of Kerch Strait (1790)

2018 Kerch Strait incident

Battle of Kerch Strait (1774)

These battles took place during the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774, on 20 June and 9 July (Old Style) 1774 south of Kerch, Crimea.

On 20 June an Ottoman force of 5 battleships, 9 frigates and 26 galleys and xebecs surprised a Russian force, under Vice-Admiral Senyavin, of 3 frigates, 4 16-gun vessels, 2 bombs and 3 small craft and tried to cut it off. The Russians anchored just outside the Kerch Strait and sailed toward Kerch the next day.

On 9 July, the Ottomans, needing to destroy the Russian ships so their land army could cross the Kerch Strait, attacked, but abandoned the effort after it was found that the Russian bombs had a greater range. The Ottoman force that day consisted of 6 battleships, 7 frigates, 1 bomb and 17 galleys and xebecs.

Battle of Kerch Strait (1790)

The naval Battle of Kerch Strait (also known as Battle of Yenikale, by the old Turkish name of the strait near Kerch) took place on 19 July 1790 near Kerch, Crimea, and was a slight victory for Imperial Russia over the Ottoman Empire during the Russo-Turkish War, 1787-1792.

The Russian fleet, under Ushakov, sailed from Sevastopol on 13 July 1790 for the southern Crimea, after hearing a report that the Ottoman fleet had been sighted there. On 19 July it anchored at the mouth of the Kerch Strait and sent privateers out in search of the Ottomans. At 10 am they reported a sighting and 30 minutes later the Ottoman fleet came into view from the east. With the wind from the ENE, Ushakov formed a line on the port tack (i.e. south-east). The Ottomans turned from their group formation and formed a parallel line to the east of the Russian line. Seeing that the Ottoman battle-line contained just their battleships, Ushakov sent 6 frigates to form a second line to leeward of the main line, and between about 12pm and 3pm, 3 hours of indecisive longish-range fighting followed, but then the wind changed direction to NNE and the Russians luffed, turning toward the Ottoman line. The Ottomans reversed course, 2 of their ships colliding as they did so, because some ships turned left and others turned right. As the Russians steered toward the tail-end of the Ottomans line, and with the wind from the north, the Ottoman admiral steered away, to the SW. At about 7pm firing ceased. The Russians followed all night, but by morning, the faster ships of the Ottomans were out of sight. Russian casualties were 29 killed and 68 wounded, with very little damage to ships. The Russian victory prevented the Ottoman Empire from achieving its goal in landing an army in Crimea.

Chushka Spit

Chushka (Russian: Чушка) is a long narrow peninsula, or sandy spit, in the northern part of the Strait of Kerch which extends from Cape Achilleion to the south-west in the direction of the Black Sea for almost 18 km. Administratively, it belongs to Temryuksky District, Krasnodar Krai, Russia.

The Chushka Spit forms the northern shore of the Taman Bay; the southern shore was formerly the Tuzla Spit. It has many long branches extending to the south and was formerly joined to the Kerch Peninsula by the 1944 Kerch railroad bridge. The main harbour on the spit is Port Kavkaz. It is also the terminal of the Kerch Strait ferry line connecting the Taman Peninsula with the Crimea.

In November 2007 a very strong storm split a Russian-flagged oil tanker off the Chushka Spit, resulting in the release of more than 2000 metric tons of fuel oil. It is thought that the effects of the spill are likely to be felt for many years to come.

Crimean Bridge

The Crimean Bridge (Russian: Крымский мост, tr. Krymskiy most, IPA: [ˈkrɨmskʲij most]), or colloquially the Kerch Strait Bridge, is a pair of parallel bridges constructed by the Russian Federation to span the Strait of Kerch between the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai and the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea (Russian-annexed, mostly internationally recognised as part of Ukraine). The bridge complex provides for both road and rail traffic (the latter still under construction). With a length of 18.1 km (11.2 mi), it is considered to be the longest bridge in Russia and Europe.Having been considered at least since 1903, planning for the bridge began in 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea. In January 2015, the multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded to Arkady Rotenberg's Stroygazmontazh. Construction of the bridge commenced in May 2015; the road bridge was opened on 16 May 2018 while the completion of the rail link is scheduled for 2019.The bridge was christened the Crimean Bridge after an online vote in December 2017, while "Kerch Bridge" and "Reunification Bridge" were the second and third most popular choices.

Highway M17 (Ukraine)

Highway M17 is a Ukrainian international highway (M-highway) connecting Kherson to the Russian border over the Kerch Strait, where it continues into Russia as the A290. The M17 is part of European route E97.

Kerch Strait ferry line

The Kerch Strait ferry line (Russian: Керченская паромная переправа (also, переправа «Крым — Кавказ»), Ukrainian: Керченська поромна переправа) is the ferry connection across the Strait of Kerch in Russia that connects the Crimean Peninsula and Krasnodar Krai.

The ferry runs across the narrowest part of the strait (about 5 km) between Port Krym (harbour Crimea) by the city of Kerch and Port Kavkaz (harbour Caucasus) on the Chushka Spit. It carries passengers, automotive and railroad transport. The ferry is on the European route E97 and connects its parts, А290 (formerly M25) and М-17 highways.

Kerch Strait incident

An international incident occurred on 25 November 2018 when the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) coast guard fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels attempting to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait on their way to the port of Mariupol. In 2014, Russia had annexed the nearby Crimean Peninsula, which is dominantly internationally recognised as Ukrainian territory. It later constructed the Crimean Bridge across the strait. Under a 2003 treaty, the strait and the Azov Sea are intended to be the shared territorial waters of both countries, and freely accessible.As the flotilla, which consisted of two gunboats and a tugboat, approached the Kerch Strait, the Russian coast guard said they repeatedly asked the Ukrainian vessels to leave what they referred to as "Russian territorial waters". They said that the vessels had not followed the formal procedure for passage through the strait, that the Ukrainian ships had been manoeuvring dangerously, and that they were not responding to radio communications. Ukraine said that it had given advance notice to the Russians that the vessels would be moving through the strait, that the ships had made radio contact with the Russians, but received no response, and cited the 2003 treaty against the assertion that the ships had entered Russian territorial waters. The Russians tried to halt the Ukrainian ships, but they continued moving in the direction of the bridge. As they neared the bridge, the Russians authorities placed a large cargo ship under it, blocking their passage into the Azov Sea. The Ukrainian ships remained moored in the strait for eight hours, before turning back to return to port in Odessa. The Russian coast guard pursued them as they left the area, and later fired upon and seized the vessels in international waters off the coast of Crimea. Three Ukrainian crew members were injured in the clash, and all twenty-four Ukrainian sailors from the captured ships were detained by Russia.The Ukrainian government characterised the incident as a potential precursor to a Russian invasion, and declared martial law along the border with Russia and in Black Sea coastal areas, which expired on 26 December 2018. The incident took place a few days before the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit. Western leaders referred to it when they spoke of sanctions against Russia.

Kerch–Yenikale Canal

Kerch–Yenikale canal (Ukrainian: Керч-Єнікальський канал Russian: Керчь-Еникальский канал) is a maritime shipping canal in the Kerch Strait. It connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

The canal was built from 1874 to 1877. The initial depth of the canal was 5.7 m.

In order to improve navigational capabilities of the Strait of Kerch, which is quite shallow in its narrowest point, the Kerch-Yenikale canal was dredged through the strait. The canal can accommodate vessels up to 215 meters long with a draft of up to 8 meters with compulsory pilot assistance.Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the canal is fully controlled by Russia. During construction of Crimean Bridge the canal was temporarily blocked for navigation.


Kuban (Russian: Кубань; Adyghe: Пшызэ; Ukrainian: Кубань) is a geographic region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Don Steppe, the Volga Delta and the Caucasus, and separated from the Crimean Peninsula to the west by the Kerch Strait. Krasnodar Krai is often referred to as "Kuban", both officially and unofficially, although the term is not exclusive to the krai and accommodates the republics of Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, and parts of Stavropol Krai.

List of lighthouses in Ukraine

This is a list of lighthouses in Ukraine. All lighthouses are controlled by the Ukrainian state institution Derzhhidrohrafiya. There are over 100 lighthouses in Ukraine, five of them (all in Crimea) were taken over by Russia during the 2014 Russian intervention in Ukraine.

The Derzhhidrohrafiya (State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine) divides its area of responsibilities over the lighthouses into several districts (raions). There are four existing raions, operations two of which is temporarily suspended. In 2017 there was an additional raion created along Dnieper, Dnieper Raion.

Novotitorovka culture

Novotitorovka culture, 3300–2700 BC, a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the North Caucasus immediately to the north of and largely overlapping portions of the Maykop culture facing the Sea of Azov, running from the Kerch Strait eastwards, almost to the Caspian, roughly coterminous with the modern Krasnodar Krai region of Russia.

It is distinguished by its burials, particularly by the presence of wagons in them and its own distinct pottery, as well as a richer collection of metal objects than those found in adjacent cultures, as is to be expected considering its relationship to the Maykop culture.

It is grouped with the larger Indo-European Yamna culture complex, and in common with it, the economy was semi-nomadic pastoralism mixed with some agriculture.

Port Kavkaz

Port Kavkaz (Russian: Порт Кавказ) is a small harbour on the Kerch Strait in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. The port is able to handle vessels up to 130 metres (430 ft) in length, 14.5 metres (48 ft) in breadth and with draft up to 5 metres (16 ft).It is the eastern terminal of the railroad and car Kerch Strait ferry line connecting Krasnodar Krai with Crimea (the western terminal of the ferry line is Port Krym).

The southern zone of the port has been under renovation to increase the turnover of the port of Kavkaz up to 4 megatonnes (3,900,000 long tons; 4,400,000 short tons).

On August 2014 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a government order to enlarge the area of the port near Crimea with the aim to increase cargo transportation volumes with the use of large ships. The borders of the port were changed to add a deep-water area south of the port of Taman for large vessels to anchor. Plans included an additional 15–18 anchor places for loading large ships. The additional area is 18.4 km2 (7.1 sq mi) with depths of 26–27.6 m (85–91 ft).

Port Krym

Port Krym (Russian: Порт Крым, Ukrainian: Порт Крим, Crimean Tatar: Qırım Limanı - literally Port Crimea) is a port in Crimea. It is located on the western shore of Kerch Strait, in the north-eastern part of Kerch city near a settlement of Zhukivka. Next to the port is located the Krym railway station.

Port Krym has the Kerch Strait ferry connection with Port Kavkaz on the eastern (Russian) shore of the strait. The port is also a base for pilot boats which guide navigation through the Strait of Kerch. The port is served by a fleet of three ships which were the property of the Ukrainian State Company "Kerch Ferry" as well as two more ships of the Russian company "ANShIP" which provides railroad ferry connection.

Port Krym is a transition point on the () where it terminates and resumes on the Russian coast at the Port Kavkaz. The type of crossing is ferry, status - local. The types of transportation crossings are passenger and freight.

Sea of Azov

The Sea of Azov (Russian: Азо́вское мо́ре, Azóvskoje móre; Ukrainian: Азо́вське мо́ре, Azóvśke móre; Crimean Tatar: Azaq deñizi, Азакъ денъизи, ازاق دﻩﯕىزى) is a sea in Eastern Europe. To the south it is linked by the narrow (about 4 km or 2.5 mi) Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea, and it is sometimes regarded as a northern extension of the Black Sea. The sea is bounded in the northwest by Ukraine, in the southeast by Russia. The Don and Kuban are the major rivers that flow into it. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world, with the depth varying between 0.9 and 14 metres (2 ft 11 in and 45 ft 11 in). There is a constant outflow of water from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

The sea is largely affected by the inflow of numerous rivers, which bring sand, silt, and shells, which in turn form numerous bays, limans, and narrow spits. Because of these deposits, the sea bottom is relatively smooth and flat with the depth gradually increasing toward the middle. Also, due to the river inflow, water in the sea has low salinity and a high amount of biomass (such as green algae) that affects the water colour. Abundant plankton results in unusually high fish productivity. The sea shores and spits are low; they are rich in vegetation and bird colonies.

Taman Bay

The Taman Bay (Russian: Таманский залив) is a shallow bay or gulf on the east coast of the Strait of Kerch shaped by the Tuzla and Chushka spits. It dips into the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai, Russia for about 16 km. The bay is 8 km wide at its mouth and is up to 5 metres deep. Fishing villages and the old townlet of Taman afford fine views of the bay. It is full of islets. Freezing normally begins in mid-December and continues until March.

Treaty Between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait

The Treaty Between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait is an agreement on sea and fisheries between Russia and Ukraine entered into force on 23 April 2004. It was signed on 24 December 2003 by President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Tuzla Island

Tuzla Island (Russian: Тузла, Ukrainian: Тузла, Crimean Tatar: Тузла, Tuzla; from Turkish "tuzluk" – saturated solution of salt in water for salting fish), is a sandy islet in the form of a spit located in the middle of the Strait of Kerch between the Kerch Peninsula in the west and the Taman Peninsula in the east. The Strait of Kerch connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Administratively, Tuzla is part of Kerch city in eastern Crimea.


Yeni-Kale (Ukrainian: Єні-Кале; Russian: Еникале; Turkish: Yenikale; Crimean Tatar: Yeñi Qale, also spelled as Yenikale and Eni-Kale) is a fortress on the shore of Kerch Strait in the city of Kerch.

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