The Russian Railways company said Friday it had completed the construction and assembly works on a railroad bypassing Ukraine, adding that the launch of operations is planned for this year.

The new double-track electrified railway, replacing the existing one which enters the Ukrainian territory, has been under construction since 2015. The Zhuravka-Millerovo 122 km stretch will make it possible for Russian trains to connect Voronezh and Rostov regions bypassing Ukraine in the south.

"Russian Railways has completed the construction and assembly works on the new Zhuravka-Millerovo railroad and began commissioning works and tests on separate parts of the railroad… The final commissioning and beginning of operations of passenger trains is planned for late autumn 2017," the statement read.

Earlier, several short stretches of rail lines linking Moscow to southern Russia cut through Ukrainian territory several times in Russia's Voronezh and Rostov regions.

Earlier, Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the railroad bypassing Ukraine would be built regardless of the relations between the two countries.

Following the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014 and an escalation of the conflict between Kiev and the residents of Ukraine's southeastern region of Donbass later that year, Moscow's relations with Kiev deteriorated. Ukraine authorities have blamed Russia for interfering in its internal affairs, the allegations Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Sputnik