The Ukrainian maritime industry as a whole incurred losses totaling about UAH 10 billion as a result of Russia’s illegal blockade of shipping in the Sea of Azov at the end of 2018, the CFTS portal reports.

Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelian announced this in an interview with the UNIAN news agency.

"It is a huge amount. The figure is approaches UAH 10 billion if we take both state-owned enterprises and the Ukrainian Seaports Authority and the influence on the region,” the minister said. “We have always taken this seriously, beginning with the construction of the Kerch Bridge. We warned that it would be Putin’s political tool to close the Kerch Strait and, accordingly, the Sea of Azov."

According to him, an improvement in the situation involving passage of ships through the Kerch Strait is currently being observed, unlike in the past when vessels had to wait for several days.

Omelian added that ship owners have reoriented their cargoes to Black Sea ports in order to avoid incurring losses due to the current situation.

"We now have a different type of threat, which we also predicted: after these events ship owners are reluctant to lease out their ships because they understand the risk of losses from possible idling of vessels. Therefore, it is much easier for them to operate with other ports in the Black Sea rather than the Sea of Azov," said the minister.

According to him, every fifth ship that was illegally stopped by Russia lost USD 10,000-50,000 per day due to downtime.

As the CFTS portal reported earlier, more than 140 ships were waiting to pass through the Kerch Strait in the morning of December 7.