Food blockade of Crimean peninsula has returned the annexation issue in the agenda of world and Ukrainian politics. It has also become a bad surprise for Russian President Putin on the eve of UN General Assembly.
Such opinion was expressed by political experts and historians during discussion in Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Taras Berezovets, ideologist of ‘Free Crimea’ project said that the blockade initiated and held by the activists was, firstly, an answer to Ukrainian government which ignores Crimean issues, and, secondly, it was an answer to large-scale corruption which still takes place in border and customs services.
The official data says that since beginning of 2015 the amount of goods supplied to the Crimea cost $475 million. ‘However, nobody will name the real [trade] volumes,’ – Taras Berezovets emphasized. – ‘According to our calculations, they reach minimally $800 million.’
The expert also said that Crimea is frequently not the ultimate recipient of goods. It happens many times that trucks with Ukrainian goods are delivered to Russian territory. Both Ukrainian and Russian sides involved in this corruption scheme earns on it well.
Obviously such state of things is unacceptable on the background of sanctions introduced by countries of EU and US. ‘And this is good that situation begins to change now,’ Berezovets said.
Blockade of Crimean peninsula stimulates government of Ukraine to actions.
Political analyst, director of International Democracy Institute Sergiy Taran suggested that the Parliament might start preparation to create more serious legal and regulatory framework so that the peninsula would cease to be a ‘grey zone’.
Sergiy Taran calls the current blockade untimely because today Russia is fully concentrated on Syria. ‘Chief geopolitical haggle of Putin is right there,’ said Sergiy Taran.
He believes that currently the chief purpose of Putin is to make that image of peacemaker and use it to become the significant figure on the world arena again. However, now instead of talks about the specific role of Russian Federation in fight against terrorism, the president of RF ought to answer questions about Crimea.
However, experts exclude possibility of Crimea becoming the bargain subject in talks on the final realization of Minsk II. ‘The problem of Putin is that he has nobody to make claims,’ the expert said.
The food blockade is organized by activists instead of authorities of Ukraine. The country reacts to hybrid war with RF by hybrid blockade of Crimea.
‘That is good because Ukraine attacks in Crimea issue for the first time and Putin doesn’t know how to get out of this situation,’ said Segriy Taran.
According to the expert opinions, the Crimean issue can’t be used as bargain subject during Minsk talks.
Crimean Historian, employee of Ukrainian Institute of National Memory Segriy Gromenko said that such possibility doesn’t exist for Russian President.
If such opportunity existed Putin would use it. However, Putin won’t do it for one reason – it’d mean to concede.’
In addition, Sergiy Taran assumed that public activists on whose initiative the blockade started wouldn’t agree to this. He believes it is very important that the blockade is a public initiative that involves a number of public organizations.
The expert underlined that such public activity is unique in our country.
‘It is very important that we have international policy that is held by the society itself. This is quite unique for Ukraine.’ He suggested that if the Crimean blockade succeeds, the activists might start demanding to block Transnistrian Republic.
Taras Berezovets mentioned the two factors of effective blockade: it should last long and be combined. He added that activists need to be supported by the state so that they can achieve these two factors.
Currently RF has reduced Crimean dependence on Ukrainian supplies to 60%. However, the peninsula still depends on water and electric power delivered from the mainland. Thus, periodical power outages are able to cause significant damage to military facilities of Russia in the occupied peninsula. However, experts mentioned power outages as an extreme measure.
Read more: Uncontrolled extraction of drinking water in Crimea leads to ecological disaster.
Segriy Gromenko spoke about another food blockade of Crimea which took place in 1918. There was the so-called ‘customs war’ between governments of Matsey Sulkevych and Pavlo Skoropadsky. That time the peninsula held on for 3 months.
The historian believes that in order to achieve necessary effect the current blockade should last twice as long.
‘The winter will be decisive in terms of whether the blockade makes sense,’ Gromenko said.
He suggested that Putin’s reaction to blockade would be increased repressions because his psychology doesn’t recognize any other instrument. Segiy Gromenko forecasted more repressions inside Russia. In the short term he sees nothing good for Crimean residents but assumes this is the least necessary evil which Ukraine has to pay to return the Crimean issue back on the agenda.
According to the historian, today it is very important for Ukraine to develop a consolidate strategy of returning the peninsula back to the state.