The discontinuities of a long history

Numerous projects for bridges across the Kerch Strait were conceived in the past, prior to the current bridge commissioned in 2018.
The focus is on the decisions that successively led successive protagonists in this history to launch (or abandon) projects between 1903 and 2014, and the factors of economic geography and geopolitics that guided these decisions over time. In conclusion, one can imagine what effect a normalization of Crimea’s international legal status might have on today’s bridge traffic.


Between the writing of this article and the moment of its publication, the inconceivable happened: the armed forces of the Russian Federation crossed the border on the morning of February 24, 2022, and a war began on the soil of Ukraine. This means that the reader will have a different view of this text than the one we imagined when writing it. Nevertheless, both authors wish to publish the article as it was originally conceived, written in peacetime and validated by the editorial board of Mappemonde, including its conclusion entitled “a bit of geography-fiction”, a fiction completely outdated by reality.

Of course, the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army prompts us to make remarks dictated by the present. If some bridge projects were imagined in times of peace, under the Russia of the Tsars or in the USSR after 1945, the only infrastructures that were really built were in a war context: by the Germans in 1943, by the Soviets in 1944-1945. The Crimean Bridge therefore has a strong link with the war. And, today, it must be noted that the current bridge was commissioned four years after the 2014 blitzkrieg invasion of Crimea and military intervention in Donbass, and four years also before the all-out attack on Ukraine. In an interval of eight years, two invasions and, in the middle of this chronology, a bridge used, in this month of March 2022, by numerous Russian military convoys.

Read Denis Eckert and Ivan Savchuk. The Crimean bridge(s) before 2014. The discontinuities of a long history, Mappemonde, 133 | 2022 [in French]

Denis Eckert, geographer, director of research at the CNRS, member of Géographie-cités and member of a Franco-German research project on Ukraine and Moldavia, and Martin Motte, director of studies at the Ecole pratique des hautes études and member of the Institut de stratégie comparée, discuss in the four-part series “Petite géopolitique des ponts” in the program Cultures Mondes hosted by Florian Delorme on France Culture on April 5.

Ivan Savchuk, researcher at the National Defense University of Ukraine, Kyiv (Ukraine), specialist in economic geography, is currently pursuing his research in France, at the Géographie-cités laboratory. He participates in the Franco-German program Limspaces (2021 – 2024) which proposes a renewed reading of the societies of Ukraine and Moldavia. This program, funded by the ANR and the German National Research Agency, in partnership with ZOiS and the Marc Bloch Center (Berlin), is directed by Béatrice von Hirschhausen, a member of Géographie-cités.