Russia–Ukraine border

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Ukrainian and Russian boundary markers
Section of the State Border of Ukraine that borders Russian Federation
Exclusive economic zones in the Black Sea

The Russian-Ukrainian border is the international state border between the Russian Federation (CIS member) and Ukraine, which formally has been in existence since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, on August 24, 1991. Over land the border outlines five oblasts (regions) of Ukraine and five oblasts of the Russian Federation.

Since the spring of 2014 the border has been compromised due to the 2014–present Russian military intervention in Ukraine. According to head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Viktor Nazarenko Ukraine doesn't control 409.3 kilometers of the state border.[1] This stretch of land is now controlled by the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.[2] Because of the change of control, Ukraine no longer has authority over the Kerch Strait connection between the Kerch Peninsula on Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai. At the same time the Russian Federation created checkpoints along the Ukrainian administrative border between Crimea and Kherson Oblast.

In 2014, the Ukrainian government unveiled a plan to build a defensive walled system along the border with Russia, named "Project Wall". It would cost almost $520 million, take four years to complete and has been under construction as of 2015.[3]

On 1 January 2018 Ukraine introduced biometric controls for Russians entering the country.[4] On 22 March 2018 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree that required Russian citizens to notify the Ukrainian authorities in advance about their reason for travelling to Ukraine.[5]

A Ukrainian customs service officer checking a car at the Hoptivka – Nekhoteyevka road border crossing, April 2008


Dissolution of the Russian Empire

The border has inherited its location from the administrative territorial division between the Ukrainian SSR and the Russian SFSR. The first real demarcation took place in May 1918 in Kursk.[6] After the fall of the Russian Empire, most of Ukraine (Ukrainian People's Republic) was overran by Red Guards of the Soviet Russia. With the help of Central Powers, Ukraine managed to recover all its territories of "Ukrainian governorates" and also annexed number of neighboring counties of Kursk and Voronezh governorates where ethnic composition of population was predominantly Ukrainophone (Ukrainian speaking).[7] On 6 May 1918, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Konotop between Ukraine and the Soviet Russia.[6] Between the fighting sides was created a neutral territory between 10–40 km wide to prevent further aggression, yet the Russian side decided to create some guerrilla forces which were transformed in two "Ukrainian divisions"[6] (see Nikolay Shchors).

Peace talks started on 23 May 1918 in Kiev where the Russian delegation was headed by Christian Rakovsky and Dmitry Manuilsky, while the Ukrainian - by Serhiy Shelukhin (uk) (Ambassador of Ukraine to Russia).[6] On June 12, 1918 the sides signed the preliminary peace treaty.[6] Further negotiations stalled due to lack of consensus on issue of the border.[6] The Ukrainian side was proposing an ethnic principle based on the already established political, geographical and economic aspects, while the Russian side insisted on conducting a plebiscite in each populated place.[6]

On 22 June 1918, both sides finally agreed to go along with the Ukrainian proposition, while any contested issues would be decided by plebiscite.[6] Yet any further negotiations led nowhere and were terminated by the Ukrainian delegation in October 1918 as it was becoming apparent that the Russian was using their time more for the pro-Soviet propaganda.[6]

International border with Don republic

More productive were negotiations between the Don Republic and Ukraine that started their negotiations soon after the Don Republic formed its government on 16 May 1918.[6] The Don side was presented by the Minister of trade Vladimir Lebedev and the Ambassador of Don to Ukraine General Aleksandr Cheriachukin, while the Ukrainian side - by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Doroshenko.[6]

On 8 August 1918, the sides signed the treaty "About basic principles of bilateral relations" where every side agreed to renounce its territorial contests against each other and border was established based on the gubernatorial division of the Russian Empire.[6] The Don-Ukraine border outlined the Oblast of Don Host to the west of Don Republic and Yekaterinoslav, Kharkiv, Voronezh guberniyas to the east of Ukraine.[6] To Ukraine also was ceded some territory of right bank Kalmius river just east of Mariupol "to ensure the proper administration of the city and port".[6] On September 18, 1918 between Don and Ukraine was created Don-Ukrainian Commission in administration of the Taganrog Industrial District based in Kharkiv.[6]

Second invasion of the Soviet Russia

After the second invasion of the Soviet troops in 1919, the new Soviet government of Ukraine intended to retain all territorial gains of the Ukrainian national government (Ukrainian State). However, after several rounds of negotiations, the border between the "Ukrainian governorates" (Chernihiv and Kharkiv) and the "Russian governorates" (Bryansk and Kursk) were left intact.[7] It also was agreed that Ukraine will border Crimea at the Perekop Isthmus.[7] On March 10, 1919 a border treaty was signed between the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian SSR.[7]

On April 24, 1919 the Ukrainian SSR was stripped off four counties of the Chernihiv Governorate that on the unilateral decision of the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affaris of the Russian SFSR were transferred to the newly created Gomel Governorate.[7] On April 28, 1919 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine simply acknowledged it.[7]

After the USSR was formally created in 1922 and due to the onset of the administrative division reform, issues emerged. The Ukrainian government claimed mainly some parts of the Kursk and Voronezh gubernia, which were home for a Ukrainian-speaking population. As a result of the border dispute of the 20s, Ukraine was granted approximately one third of the claimed territories, while the Taganrog and Shakhty districts went back to the RSFSR. By 1927, the administrative border between the RSFSR and Ukrainian SSR was established.

1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994. Inter alia, the Memorandum promised that its signatories (the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom) would respect Ukraine's existing borders.

Third invasion of Russia (Tuzla incident)

Tuzla Spit island (center). View from Mount Mithridat (Kerch, Ukraine).

The island Tuzla Spit became a major dispute between Russia and Ukraine in 2003. The island is located in the Kerch Strait and administratively is part of Crimea. During the Soviet period the island along with Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954, the fact which was also fiercely contested by several Russian politicians the legal background of the territorial change.

The main trade routes lay completely within the deeper part of the Kerch Strait which is located between the island and Crimea and considered a part of territorial waters of Ukraine. On the other hand, ships are impeded to travel to the east of the island (towards the Taman peninsula) due to the fact that there are shallow waters. Between Tuzla and Taman peninsula are two channels, however none of them are deeper than 3 m (9.8 ft). The fish spawn also mainly takes place in the territorial waters of Ukraine, which is favorable for the fishing industry of Crimea. The intensity of the conflict increased due to the forecast of locations of oil and gas in the area and the lack of an established and ratified international border between Russia and Ukraine. On the proposition of the Russian side it is offered for the border to stretch along the bed of the territorial waters, while sharing the use of Azov Sea and Kerch Strait waters.

Historical overview

Until 1925 the island was part of the Taman spit located within the Kuban-Black Sea Oblast and later the North Caucasus Krai. During a big storm that took place in the Kerch Strait the western portion of the spit was separated from continent becoming an island. On January 7, 1941, during the World War II the island was transferred to the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (later Crimean Oblast) which in 1954 was transferred to Ukraine.

Crimea status dispute (2014)

Since the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia the status of the Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is currently under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider the Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, while Russia, on the other hand, considers the Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities.[8][9] Since 1991 Russia also leases Sevastopol Naval Base with the current lease extending to the 2040s with an option for another extension, but the Russian State Duma approved the denunciation of this lease agreements unanimously by 433 members of parliament on 31 March 2014.[10]

Borders of the Russian Naval Base in the city of Sevastopol and its vicinity has not been clearly identified.

On 1 January 2018 Ukraine introduced biometric controls for Russians entering the country.[11] On 22 March 2018 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree that required Russian citizens and "individuals without citizenship, who come from migration risk countries” (more details were not given) to notify the Ukrainian authorities in advance about their reason for travelling to Ukraine.[12]

Conditional checkpoints

Checkpoint Marynivka as controlled by Donetsk People's Republic in June 2015 (with its flag clearly visible)

Since the start of the War in Donbass in April 2014 Ukraine lost (according to head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Viktor Nazarenko) control of 409.3 kilometers of the state border in southeastern Ukraine.[1][13] This stretch of land is now controlled by organizations better known as Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.[2]

According to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine the number of Russian citizens who crossed the border with Ukraine (more than 2.5 million Russians in 2014) dropped by almost 50% in 2015.[14] They also refused entry into Ukraine to 16,500 citizens of Russia in 2014 and to 10,800 Russians in 2015.[15] According to the State Border Guard there were 1.5 million trips by Russians to Ukraine in 2017.[16]


The border has a length of 2,295.04 kilometres (1,426.07 mi) of which 1,974.04 kilometres (1,226.61 mi) is land border and 321 kilometres (199 mi) is sea border. It extends from a point in the Black Sea 22.5 kilometres (14.0 mi) south of the Kerch Strait, where the first contact the territorial waters of both states, is to the north of this strait, passing it is on the Sea of Azov to the point on the coast which goes to the land border and so on to the tripoint with Belarus to the north. The Russia–Ukraine border has the biggest number of border checkpoints in Ukraine.[citation needed]


A treaty on the demarcation of the common border between the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia was signed on 17 May 2010 and came into force on 29 July of the same year.[17] At that time, Ukraine intended to start work on the demarcation of the border upon ratification of the agreement by the respective governments, but ratification was not completed. However 16 June 2014 the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine ordered the government to carry a one-side demarcation of the border "in terms of existing threats to national security"; amidst the worst fighting of the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine.[17]

Ukrainian Wall

Since May 2015 Ukraine is building a fortified border barrier on the Russia–Ukraine border. The aim of the project is preventing Russian military and hybrid warfare intervention in Ukraine.[18][better source needed]

As of May 2015, a walled defense system was under construction along the Russian border in Kharkiv Oblast.[3] The project is planned to be finished in 2018.[19]

Road border checkpoints

Chernihiv – Bryansk

The section of the border between the Chernihiv Oblast and Bryansk Oblast has length of 183 km (114 mi).[21]


  • 3 – three-way checkpoint with Belarus

Sumy – Bryansk

Sumy – Kursk


  • 1 – closed for nighttime
  • 2 – under renovations

Sumy – Belgorod


  • 1 – closed for nighttime

Kharkiv – Belgorod

Hoptivka at Hoptivka-Nekhoteyevka border crossing
Nekhoteyevka at Hoptivka-Nekhoteyevka border crossing
  • Hoptivka – Nekhoteyevka
  • Kozacha Lopan – Dolbino
  • Odnorobivka – Golovchino
  • Oleksandrivka – Bezymeno
  • Pisky – Logachovka
  • Pletenivka – Shebekino
  • Strilecha – Zhuravlyovka
  • Topoli – Valuiki
  • Chuhunivka – Verigovka

Luhansk – Belgorod

  • Adrian Lagmay - Trestan Baldoza

Luhansk – Voronezh

  • Prosyane – Bugayevka

Railroad border checkpoints

Sumy Oblast

  • Konotop Rail Station (Konotop)
  • Vorozhba Rail Station (Vorozhba)
  • Khutir-Mykhailivsky Rail Station (Druzhba)
  • Zernove Rail Station (Zernove)
  • Volfine Rail Station (Volfine)
  • Pushkarne Rail Station (Pushkarne)

Kharkiv Oblast

Closed border checkpoints

Since the Russian aggression against Ukraine, border operations were suspended.[22]

Chernihiv – Bryansk

  • Klyusy (local?)[22]

Sumy – Bryansk

  • Sopych[22] status is uncertain, could be same as Bachivsk

Sumy – Kursk

  • Boyaro-Lezhachi – Tyotkino (local)[22]
  • Kondrativka – Yelizovetovka (local)[22]
  • Novovasylivka – Belaya Beryozka (local)[22]
  • Ryzhivka – Tyotkino (local)[22]
  • Starykove – Kozino (local)[22]
  • Volfine – Volfino (local)[22]
  • Volodymyrivka (local?)[22]

Sumy – Belgorod

  • Popivka (local?)[22] (uncertain whether of Velyka Pysarivka or Krasnopillia raions)

Kharkiv – Belgorod

  • Budarky – Tishanka (local)[22]

Luhansk – Belgorod

  • Dyomino-Oleksandrivka – Valuiky (interstate)[22]

Luhansk – Voronezh

  • Novobila – Novobila (interstate)[22]

Luhansk – Rostov

  • Chervona Mohyla – Gukovo (rail international)
  • IzvaryneDonetsk (special status, rail international)
  • Milove - Chertkovo (rail international)
  • Chervonopartyzansk – Gukovo (international)[22]
  • Syevyerny – Donetsk (local)[22]
  • Krasnodarsky – Donetsk (local)[22]
  • Krasnodarsky – Nizhni Shvyrov (local)[22]
  • Novoborovtsi – Alekseyevo-Tuzlovka (local)[22]
  • Oleksandrivka – Titovka (local)[22]
  • Vilkhove – Quarry of 122 km (interstate)[22]
  • Zarynivka – Tarasovo-Melovskoye (local)[22]

Donetsk – Rostov

The section of the border between the Donetsk Oblast and Rostov Oblast has length of 178.5 km (110.9 mi).[23]

  • Passengers Park (Ilovaisk) – Uspenka (rail international)
  • Southern Park (Ilovaisk) – Uspenka (rail international)
  • Kvashyne – Uspenka (international)
  • Marynivka – Kuibyshevo (international)
  • Novoazovsk – Veselo-Voznesensk (international)
  • Ulianivske – Shramko (local)[22]
  • Uspenka – Matveyev Kurgan (international)[22]

Crimea – Krasnodar

The former Norwegian ferry Ostfold. In 2014, the ferry arrived at the Kerch Strait and was renamed "Krym".

Local border traffic

Since 16 March 2015, the Russia-Ukraine local border traffic agreement was unilaterally terminated by Ukraine citing national security.[25] As a result, over 100 local border crossing points were closed.[26]

On 24 March 2015, Ukrainian side informed that Russia temporarily froze the local border traffic within the territory of Kharkiv, Sumy and Luhansk regions of Ukraine adjacent to Belhorod and Voronezh regions of Russian Federation. Local BCPs “Zhuravlivka” and “Oleksandrivka” (Kharkiv region) were the exception.[27]

Simplified local border crossing was allowed for the 2015 Easter holidays in Stanichno-Lugansk, Melovskoy, Troitsky, Novopskovsky and Belovodsky districts of the Luhansk Oblast.[28]

See also


  1. ^ a b State border service, OSCE draft plan to return control over border with Russia if Minsk accords fulfilled, Interfax-Ukraine (13 August 2016).
  2. ^ a b Watching Russia for Signs of Progress in Ukraine Negotiations, Stratfor, 4 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b "As Ukraine Erects Defenses, Critics Fear Expensive Failure", Moscow Times, 6 May 2015.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Regional history of Ukraine. Collection of scientific articles. Vol.3. "Institute of History of Ukraine (NANU)". Kiev, 2009
  7. ^ a b c d e f Yefimenko, H. About the border between the Soviet Ukraine and the Bolshevik Russia, 1919. Ukrayinska Pravda (Historic pravda). 10 March 2014
  8. ^ Gutterman, Steve. "Putin signs Crimea treaty, will not seize other Ukraine regions". Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Timeline". 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  10. ^ State Duma approves denunciation of Russian-Ukrainian agreements on Black Sea Fleet, ITAR-TASS, 31 March 2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Ukraine conflict: Why is east hit by conflict?", BBC News, 18 February 2015.
  14. ^ Number of Russians crossing border with Ukraine on decline – border service, UNIAN (15 August 2016)
  15. ^ Over 3,600 Russians refused entry into Ukraine in H1, Interfax-Ukraine (16 August 2016)
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) UKRAINE RUSSIA MAY dissociate itself from the Fence, Ukrayinska Pravda (16 June 2014)
  18. ^ Vijai Maheshwari (27 October 2014). "The Great Wall of Ukraine". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  19. ^ 'Great Wall of Ukraine' fortification along Russian border set for completion before late 2018: PM. Ukraine Today. May. 23, 2015.
  20. ^ Checkpoints. State Border Service of Ukraine
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x The Cabinet of Ministers ordered to close 23 checkpoints at the border with Russia (Кабмін розпорядився закрити 23 пункту на кордоні з Росією). Mirror Weekly. 20 February 2015
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ "Vessel details for: KRYM (General Cargo) - IMO 7727425, MMSI 273377650, Call Sign UBEN7 Registered in Russia | AIS Marine Traffic". Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  25. ^ "Ukraine closes local border crossing points with Russia". 2015-03-04. Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  26. ^ "Ukraine Terminates Deal with Russia on Local Border Traffic". 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  27. ^ [3]
  28. ^ "Kiev to Open Border With Russia in Lugansk Region During Easter Holidays » voice of Sevastopol". 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2017-01-11. 

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