REUTERS Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan says the ministry estimates Ukraine&#39;s direct losses as a result of the forced reduction in tonnage of vessels that enter the Ukrainian Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports, after the construction of the Kerch Bridge, at UAH 500 million (US$19 million) per year. Read alsoU.S. condemns Russia&#39;s construction of Crimean bridge "We estimate direct losses due to the reduction in the tonnage of ships at the entrance to our two ports in the Sea of Azov, namely Mariupol and Berdyansk, nearly at UAH 500 million a year, while indirect losses – at billions of hryvnias," the minister said following a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, May 16. Omelyan noted that, in addition to limiting the tonnage, the construction of the Kerch Bridge might lead to the closure of the passage through the Kerch Strait. "This bridge is not just a bridge. This is a tool for economic and political pressure on Ukraine, a tool for blocking at any moment of the Kerch Strait not only for vessels flying the flag of Ukraine, but also of all other countries," the minister said. He noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine had sent the relevant appeal to the international judicial institutions, while Ukrainian companies had calculated losses that would be presented to Russia. As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the need to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait immediately after the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Originally, the bridge was expected to be built before 2018 and put into operation in the summer of 2019. Putin attended the official bridge opening ceremony on May 15.