The construction of a railway line from Zhuravka (Voronezh region) to Millerovo (Rostov region), bypassing Ukraine, has begun in the south of Russia. The project should be completed in 2018, the Kommersant publication writes.

Soldiers are performing the construction work. More than 360 pieces of special military equipment and about 900 personnel are involved in the construction project.

"Railway troops will have to create a roadbed over a stretch of 18 kilometers in the first phase of the project. Then they will perform the work involving the laying of rails and sleepers, balancing, and alignment. The final phase of the work will involve commissioning of the railway together with all the auxiliary structures after performance of all the necessary tests," the TASS news agency quotes a source in the Defense Ministry as saying.

Officials in the Defense Ministry also said that they were ready to build the entire 122.5 kilometers of railway from Zhuravka to Millerovo if a decision to that effect were made. Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that construction of a railway line between the Belgorod and Rostov regions via the Prokhorovka-Zhuravka-Chertkovo-Bataysk route would require RUB 56.6 billion (USD 1.13 billion).

As reported, the railroad was built in the 1960s, when there were no borders between Russia and Ukraine. Problems arose after the collapse of the USSR, as a result of which a section of this public infrastructure that was traditionally used for meeting Russian transportation needs fell within the territory of Ukraine. The length of this section on the Rossosh-Chertkovo-Millerovo railway stretch is 26 kilometers. Most of the cargo traffic from the European part of Russia to its Black Sea ports and back passes through this stretch of railway.

To bypass this Ukrainian segment of the railway, it is necessary to build a longer line. "In fact, it is longer there. 26 kilometers is what is located on the territory of Ukraine. The alternative will be much longer because of the relief and other circumstances," the Russian Railways’ President Vladimir Yakunin said recently.

In an attempt to avoid such infrastructure spending, Russia previously asked Ukraine to transfer the relevant border areas (shown in the picture) to it.