(bne IntelliNews) – Starting on December 11 all Russian Railways (RZD) passenger trains will bypass Ukraine on their way to western destinations, Tass reported on December 7 citing the RZD head for passenger transportation Dmitri Pegov.
One of the main routes to be affected will be the Berlin-Moscow train, which has long been the main route used by western visitors on their way to Russia by train.
The RZD delivered on the promise to bypass Ukraine by the end of 2017, as a part of larger Kremlin strategy of a series of infrastructure projects that will cut Ukraine out of Russia’s connections to its main customers in Europe.
The construction of the RUB55bn (€0.8bn) 37km bypass line started in 2015 after the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and the resulting showdown with the west. It connects the Voronezh and Rostov regions in Russia and replaces an existing line that crosses the Ukrainian separatist region of Lugansk.
The construction has been a high priority for the Kremlin and has ended a year ahead of schedule.
Other projects include the extension to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to the north of Ukraine and the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to the south that will cut Ukraine out of Russia’s gas transit system to the west. Work on both these has started, although Nord Stream 2 is facing strong resistance in the European Commission.
Ukraine faces going from a traditional bridge between east and west to becoming an “island” as a result of Russia’s actions.