Roki Tunnel

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Map of Georgia showing Zemo Roka
Map of South Ossetia, showing the location of the Roki Tunnel

The Roki Tunnel (also called Roksky Tunnel, Georgian: როკის გვირაბი; Ossetic: Ручъы тъунел; Russian: Рокский туннель) is a mountain tunnel of the Transkam road through the Greater Caucasus Mountains, north of the village Upper Roka. It is the only road joining North Ossetia–Alania in the Russian Federation into South Ossetia, a breakaway republic of Georgia. The road is manned at the town of Nizhny Zaramag in North Ossetia and is sometimes referred to as the Roki-Nizhny Zaramag border crossing.

The tunnel, completed by the Soviet authorities in 1984, is one of only a handful of routes that cross the North Caucasus Range. It is at about 2,000 meters altitude and its length is 3,730 meters, and near the Roki Pass at about 3,000 meters altitude, which can only be used in summer.[1][2] The other routes between Georgia and Russia include the Kazbegi-Verkhni Lars customs checkpoint on the Georgian Military Road, closed June 2006[3] and reopened 2010, and the Gantiadi-Adler crossing in Abkhazia which Georgia asserts functions illegally.[4]

The tunnel has been important throughout the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. The South Ossetian authorities use tolls levied on tunnel traffic as one of their main sources of revenue. The Georgian government – backed by the United States – has long called for the South Ossetian side of the tunnel to be placed under the control of international monitors, rather than by the South Ossetian secessionists and their Russian allies.[5] When the Russian authorities blocked the Kazbegi-Verkhni Lars customs checkpoint between June 2006 and March 2010, the Roki Tunnel was the only available road route from Russia to South Ossetia. The tunnel was also used as a supply route for the Russian troops during the 2008 South Ossetia War.[6]

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Coordinates: 42°37′N 44°6′E / 42.617°N 44.100°E / 42.617; 44.100