Despite committing to halting its controversial dredging, Ukraine has still not allowed Romanian boats to measure the depth of the Bystroye canal after the dredging, claiming that the operation would pose risks due to mines in the area.
Notably, the Bystroye canal is entirely on the territory of Ukraine in an area not subject to military conflicts – however, this point of contention between Romania and Ukraine may create environmental troubles: Ukraine’s dredging, which has been named a violation of international law, poses a risk to the delicate natural and animal habitats of the Danube Delta, because dredging can release toxics and pollutants in the water, or even cause the erosion of riverbanks.
The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Merchant ships are reportedly using the dredged canal. Ukraine has allowed Romania to measure the depth of the water on only certain segments of the Chilia arm of the Danube that is on its territory.
This puts Romanian authorities into a particularly delicate situation after transport minister Sorin Grindeanu initially announced that the dredging works on Bystroye breached the bilateral agreements as it increased the depth from 3.5 metres to 6.5 metres.
Romanian authorities stated that they were not informed and did not agree with these works, and the Ambassador of Ukraine was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for explanations.