Ukraine halts all trains and buses to Russian-held Crimea

KIEV (AFP) - Ukraine said on Friday it was suspending all rail and bus services to Russian-occupied Crimea because of security concerns.

The decision came only 10 days after Russia decided to halt its own train service to the Black Sea peninsula due to low demand.

The joint suspensions mean that most of the region's 2.3 million residents will only be able to reach Ukraine by car or cross into Russia to the east using an outdated ferry service.

Some Russian carriers continue however to operate regular and charter flights to Crimea's central city Simferopol.

The European Union has slapped those operators with sanctions that deprive them of aircraft insurance and service contracts.

Neither Ukraine's state railway operator nor its traffic safety service explained what dangers its trains and buses faced in Crimea.

The region was seized by Russian troops in March and later voted to secede from Ukraine in a hastily-arranged referendum that was denounced as illegal by Kiev and the West.

Its subsequent annexation by Moscow sparked the first of several waves of Western sanctions against Russia for its approach to Ukraine.