“We are considering the option of closing the railway communication with Moscow,” Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Vladimir Omelyan told 1+1 TV channel. This is not the first time the official has suggested a similar measure. In December 2017, he also threatened to stop sending buses to Russia.
Ukrainian Railways has not yet reacted to the official’s statement. Trains to Russia are a valuable business for the company with three routes being the company’s most profitable destinations.
The most popular train is Kiev-Moscow which brought in $5.8 million for the company, followed by Odessa-Moscow ($3.7 million). St. Petersburg is the third most profitable destination from Ukraine.
The possible ban could seriously hurt Ukrainian citizens living and working in Russia. Every twelfth Ukrainian, or around 3 million people, lives in Russia. Transportation between Russia and Ukraine has worsened after both countries banned direct flights in 2015.
Since December, Russia has been sending long-haul trains bypassing Ukraine. Russia has built a railway stretch that links the Voronezh and Rostov regions near the Ukrainian border.
The railroad previously had a 26-kilometer stretch which passed through the war-torn Lugansk region of Ukraine. The new section which bypasses Ukraine is 137 kilometers long.