The use of dock No.3 of the Baltic naval base to provide a passenger ferry service between Baltiisk and St. Petersburg will not have any negative effect on the Baltic Fleet's war readiness, according to Vice-Admiral Valery Aibund, the head of construction, engineering and accommodation of the Russian Navy. Vice-Admiral Aimund gave this guarantee to Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev during a presentation of the project to him.
By an order of the Russian Government of July 9, the Defence Ministry must hand over the dock basin, the quay and the surrounding land in Baltiisk to the operative control of the Transport Ministry for a period of 15 years 'to be used for the purposes of sea trade'. Vice-Admiral Aibund reported that a car-ferry terminal is to be constructed there by the end of this year. It has already been decided that the ferry Mikhail Sholokhov, which can carry 500 passengers and 130 cars, will sail this route.
In the future, a full ferry service carrying rail passengers and freight is planned between the port of Ust-Luga in the Leningrad Region and the deep-water port Vostochny, which is to be constructed near Baltiisk. It is intended to enter service in 1995.
Gennady Seleznev noted that the ferry service is one solution to the transit problem between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russia. However, it does not solve it completely, as it is not a real alternative to the current rail and road links through Lithuania and Belarus. Consequently, a solution will have to be found in talks with the EU, in which Russia intends to firmly defend its position of providing freedom of movement for people and freight.
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