KIEV/MOSCOW/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin is watching with apprehension as the conflict between Kiev and Moscow escalates again following Ukraine’s shutting down electrical power to Crimea. Last week, Crimean Tatars and members of the fascist Right Sector are suspected to have blown up several electric pylons, cutting off the supply of power to Crimea. Crimea receives nearly 80 percent of its electricity from Ukraine. The Berlin-sponsored Ukrainian government sees itself as incapable of repairing the power lines. It has imposed – in accordance with the embargo policies of the EU and the USA – its own trade embargo on the peninsula. In the summer 2014, the EU and the USA began imposing economic sanctions on Crimea, which was aggravated by Kiev’s embargo of water and blockade of traffic for over a year. Ukraine will squander its remaining sympathy on the peninsula, warn observers. A similar development had been observed in the Georgian secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Early this week, the German government applied pressure on Kiev to restore electricity to Crimea, to avoid another escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which Germany considers detrimental. To no avail – the escalation began yesterday.
One of the Toughest Embargos in the World
Even before the current energy blockade, sanctions imposed by the EU, the USA and Ukraine were already seriously affecting Crimea, particularly the economic sanctions, more than those targeting individuals. The import into the EU of goods produced in Crimea has been prohibited since last summer; since December 2014 – investment on the peninsula. For EU-based companies even the purchase of real estate is forbidden. Export of energy products – including oil and natural gas – as well as goods from the transportation and telecommunication sectors are not allowed. Even service for Crimean tourism is no longer permitted to be offered within the EU. The United States has imposed similar sanctions. Last summer, Thomas De Waal, an expert at the USA’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, assessed that this is “one of the toughest embargos in the world.” De Waal has characterized this as the “Siege of Crimea.”
Cut Off From the Mainland
The numerous blockades of transportation and traffic also have an exceedingly damaging effect. The Ukrainian railroad has ceased service to the peninsula, with no railway access yet to Russia. “Ferry service across the Straits of Kerch” is, for the time being, “the only larger transportation link to the Russian mainland,” notes the “Ukraine-Analysen.” However, the ferry connection is overburdened and interrupted in bad weather. Moscow seeks to solve the problem with the construction of a railway/automobile bridge across the Straits of Kerch. Construction has begun and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018  – three long years. Because of the difficult accessibility, the import of food from Russia is insufficient to satisfy the needs of the Crimean population. “Ukraine-Analysen” reports that due to the insufficiency of overland connections, “the air traffic to Crimea has significantly increased.” “It has tripled since 2013.” Only Russian airliners land in Crimea – under high penalty fines – because Crimea’s integration into Russia has not been recognized internationally, Crimean airspace is still attributed to Ukraine.
The German government, which had helped instigate the sanctions strategy through the imposition of EU sanctions, is now watching these developments with apprehension. Martin Schäfer, the spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry, characterized the sabotage of the electrical pylons as a “criminal act.” “We are expecting these incidents to be handled as such” and “that the supply of electricity in and to Crimea will be restored,” he said at the Federal Press Conference. Berlin would like to get the Ukraine conflict finally under control. The objective is to prevent an EU-endangering resurgence of the civil war, render German business relations with Russia possible again – and, along the way, become Europe’s number one regulatory force. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) However, Kiev – in the process of becoming more radicalized – refuses to heed Berlin’s admonitions, balks at re-establishing the supply of electricity. Rather than react to Russia’s call to pay its gas bills or have its gas supply cut off, Ukraine has declared it was closing its air space to Russian flights. Escalation spirals further.
The Crimean Tatars, implicated in blowing up the electric pylons, are playing an important role in the escalation strategy against Crimea. german-foreign-policy.com will continue with a report on the Crimean Tatars.