How to get to Crimea by car through Melitopol and Mariupol in 2022

The Niva was chosen as a means of transportation, it will definitely reach the Rostov region.

The Niva was chosen as a means of transportation, it will definitely reach the Rostov region.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN


I knew this road – Chongar-Melitopol-Mariupol-Berdyansk-Novoazovsk, I passed it in fragments. And I’ve always wondered why truckers and holidaymakers don’t use it? Why are they crawling to the Crimea and back in traffic jams and “toffees” through the Krasnodar Territory, winding up an extra hundred or two kilometers? According to the “chauffeur’s calculator”, from the port of Kavkaz, where the Crimean bridge conditionally begins, to the Novoazovsk border crossing is 612 kilometers. Through the Sea of ​​\u200b\u200bAzov – 370 km – one and a half times shorter! Why don’t they go?

There were many reasons for that.

First. It has always been believed that the track is in a terrible state – Ukraine did not follow the roads.

The second reason is “there is a war!”. You begin to explain that there are hundreds of kilometers from the highway to the front, they look at you incomprehensibly. I think it’s my psyche that is deformed, and 10 kilometers from the battle line is already the rear, where you can turn on loud music and steer with one hand, putting the helmet on your knees.

And what about the war in the “Azov corridor”? What’s with the connection? What about gasoline? Is there asphalt left and how long will this journey take? All this had to be found out personally.



Chongar, time 12.05.

The Niva was chosen as a means of transportation, it will definitely reach the Rostov region. At noon we get up on the site behind the destroyed Ukrainian customs terminal. The queue to the Crimea – fifteen cars. From Crimea, sometimes, cars pass lazily, all on Ukrainian license plates with the codes of Zaporozhye and Kherson regions – “they went to buy up”. In the shops of the surrounding villages and towns, all goods + 30% of the price. That is, even in the tourist Crimea, which does not indulge in cheapness, food and household chemicals are cheaper. So I was told in a small shop in the village of Chongar.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

We check the oil level, pump up the wheels. A UAZ-Patriot is slowly driving around the unwound former Ukrainian border crossing, followed by a KAMAZ with submachine gunners. We are being carefully examined, but we have not aroused any suspicion at all, we have not even checked the documents. Perhaps because of the DNR-ovskih numbers and “zetok” on the windows. The border, even the administrative one, is locked up!

We start, and almost immediately stop at a gas station. Gasoline AI-95 for 59 rubles! The check is given, but with a strange, mind-blowing overprint – “The check is invalid.” In general, checks and cash registers are not very popular here. “The heavy legacy of the Ukrainian regime,” the seller of crucified smoked mullet remarked with humor. They sell it there, behind a gas station. The seller didn’t want me to take a picture of the fish price tag. I went to meet him, in return he tried to quickly wrap my mullet in paper along with the web and the flies that got into it … But, I noticed.

We said goodbye to the seller coldly, according to my Crimean experience, I talked with a person who in a couple of months will quietly goon on the Internet and on the street – “but in Ukraine, there was a will, they lived – they didn’t grieve, everything was a gift, pancakes instead of toilet paper used”… I think it will happen as soon as they put a cash register on him and make him pay taxes. The scheme of insight is well-known – I want to live in Russia, and pay taxes, as in Ukraine.

On this, our communication with the road infrastructure ended – the next 200 kilometers it simply did not exist. Gas stations “Ukranafta” with “We kindly ask” on the peaks of the roof were broken. All gas stations of the famous American oil brand have suffered greatly. The rest of the gas stations were simply closed. As well as roadside markets and motels. However, in some places near the track there are home-made trays, in them there are thermoses with tea and coffee. But all this is close to the border.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Good advice #1:

Fill up with petrol in the Crimea or in Chongar. It is quite possible to pass this road on one tank and even remain. Take water, food, cigarettes, etc. with you.


Chongar-Novohryhorovka (border of Zaporozhye region)

This is the most disgusting section of the entire route, all 65 kilometers. Part of the way we drove with right wheels on the knurled roadside. We overtook a dozen cars that took care of the suspension. But, if you do not drive, you will pass quietly without breaking the car. This segment took us more than an hour at an average speed of 50 kilometers per hour. But, there is good news: the track is already being repaired! We started from the bridges – further, to Novoazovsk (DPR), all the bridges blown up by the Ukrainian troops during the retreat are already in perfect condition. The brigades were released, they were transferred to the Kherson roads, as the repairmen explained to me.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

I popped into some roadside shop for Russian cigarettes. The assortment of goods, as in the general store of the Non-Black Earth region before the collapse of the USSR. All in one copy, you can’t buy two lemonades, for example. The saleswoman, pursing her lips, said: “We don’t trade here, but we survive.” And it was true. The margin on cigarettes turned out to be the lowest possible, I liked the owners of the shop from this and made them a day’s profit.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Behind Novogrigorovka I met “asphalt filibusters” who turned around wide, putting up a whole stall with inscriptions: “Diesel, AI-92”. Everything is like in all wars – they sell fuel “merged” from state-owned equipment to the local population. The population takes diesel for 30 rubles, which is 2 times cheaper than at gas stations. The filibusters remarked cynically: “The bridge, of course, is a pity, but when will people start driving here again?”. And, with the words – “ours”, they pointed to their long-closed barbecue. My interlocutors did not notice any change in traffic on the highway. Bye. Any transit always enlivens the economic life, and Kherson region clearly lacks this.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Good advice #2

You will be unpleasantly surprised, but there is no cellular communication on the track yet. Russian operators are not working yet. Kherson region has its own operator, Zaporizhia region has its own, although you can already find the Donetsk “Phoenix”. Download all the maps to the navigator in advance and get directions.




The border of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and the first checkpoint with fighters from the DPR. We had no problems, when we saw the numbers, they began to ask about the news from Donetsk and the situation on the fronts. There is no need to be afraid of roadblocks, we are all citizens of the same country. You need to turn off the headlights at the entrance, stop under the “STOP” sign and wait for the fighter to wave his hand – drive up. In two cases out of ten you will not be checked. They can ask the women sitting in the car: “Is everything all right”? This is an important procedure. A set of documents is usual: rights, registration certificate, birth certificates for children traveling in your car.

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Immediately behind the block there is a petrol-gas filling station with a small queue. Gasoline starts to get cheaper before our eyes. Here, the first catering. In the back of the truck there is a concrete cylinder with a lid and the inscription “Samsa”, four pieces – 350 rubles. The quality is such that you will not find it in Moscow. I regret that I did not take a few pieces with me to Donetsk. While we were greedily choking on catering, a local driver Sasha approached us. He transports the field-growing teams through the fields, then collects them after the shift. Sasha answered all the burning questions. For example: “Why is sunflower already black in some fields, and harvested in others?”

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

– Two reasons. This one was born, bad seeds. It is unprofitable to remove it, you will burn more fuel. The second reason is that the owners abandoned everything and fled, some to Kyiv, and some to Lvov …

Sasha said something that didn’t fit right in his head:

– And we also have a lot of farms that are managed through shell companies. Their owners in Europe sunbathe.

In response, I tell Sasha how the Donetsk factories and mines exported all their profits to Kyiv for several years, they paid taxes there, and Ukraine bought shells on them to hit Donetsk. And then, one fine day, all these businesses were nationalized. And it will be the same here. Sasha looks at me and does not believe. I ask:

– People are afraid to drive on your track because of the fighting. How are you here, calmly?

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Sasha laughs.

We didn’t have any fights. I only saw how our tanks in four rows walked along the highway. And that’s it. Let them go, we will only be happy.

As a confirmation of these words, just perfect asphalt began already to the very border with the Rostov region. In places without markings, but you can survive. Where the asphalt was not changed, it was cut off along with the pits. Here and there, you meet workers on the road repairing the road on Sunday. According to the regulator of the reverse traffic: “We have the final touch here and are being transferred to Kherson.”

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Good advice #3

Melitopol is a city where there were no hostilities, where pharmacies and car repair shops work. There are hotels. But if you don’t need to go there, drive sideways, bypass, making a route to Primorsk or Berdyansk. There are signs on the road, you can go on them.




The longest section, 192 kilometers along the highway. Working gas stations and cafes are starting to come across! Between Primorsk and Berdyansk we stopped at the so-called “Wind Park”. From the highway, an ideal concrete path runs down to each group of wind turbines. The best place to have a bite to eat and relax before the last dash to Novoazovsk. The sea and wind turbines – the view is just fantastic.

At the stele at the entrance to Mariupol we stopped for a minute. At that moment, workers were taking pictures there – construction was in full swing around. Most of the houses were already finished outside, and nearby, excavators were clearing a new construction site from the bushes.

In Mariupol, we had problems with the navigator. First, we drove into the dead and crippled Oktyabrsky district, where the road ended with … a blown up bridge. Again, they trusted the voice in the black box and arrived directly at the main checkpoint of Azovstal. All roadsides are filled with stacks of building materials – the plant is also being restored! Sensing our confusion, a young militiaman came from the checkpoint and joyfully told us:

– You’re not the first! Turn around, turn right at the third intersection!

A photo: Dmitry STESHIN

Good advice number 4

Lay a route through the city by setting a separate point (call here) on Metallurgists Avenue. Then immediately roll out to Novoazovsk, without wandering. The navigator does not know that we had fierce battles here …




I had a bad feeling. I have always called this stretch of road 54 kilometers “the worst in the history of mankind.” Here, the wheels of three-ton jeeps were broken. Here it was possible to pierce all four wheels with fragments of the Grad and then helplessly cry on the side of the road. Finally, it was here that the most unlucky ones tore off mufflers and pierced engine crankcases, leaving an oil plume on pieces of asphalt.

And now I was driving on smooth asphalt and begging someone: “Please, well, at least five more kilometers of such a road!” And he was heard – to the very border, the asphalt spread like a black tablecloth.

The line of truckers stretched for five kilometers. I asked the drivers – everyone is returning from construction sites in Mariupol. Looks like truckers have not yet opened this track. The line of civilian vehicles was small and moved briskly. The border with the Rostov region is no longer state, but internal – administrative. No customs. But for now, passport control and inspection of cars, selectively – things, have been preserved. “They don’t commit atrocities,” a peasant from Novoazovsk told me.

I looked at the odometer – 387 kilometers from Chongar. Looked at the clock – 18.45. You can ride. But be careful.


Checked – you can go

According to my observations, Russia took up an alternative land route to the Crimea, as soon as politicians from Ukraine began to threaten the Crimean bridge aloud. I want to be a bad prophet, but no one has canceled the possibility of repeated attacks on the Crimean bridge. But now we have a good backup route to the Crimea! Checked.

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