Crimea threatened with commodity blockade from Ukraine; local authorities find threats futile

Several Ukrainian politicians have expressed intentions to launch on Sunday a blockade of deliveries of Ukrainian commodities to Crimea in protest against the peninsula's unification with Russia. The local authorities say that Crimea is getting most of food supplies from Russian producers and the blockade will hit primarily the manufactures in southern Ukraine oriented on the Crimean market.

The plans of Crimean Tatar activists and 'Ukrainian patriots' to block commodity deliveries to Crimea were announced by Verkhovna Rada members Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov. Their initiative is being backed by members of the radical Right Sector banned in Russia.

The plans of Crimean Tatar activists and 'Ukrainian patriots' to block commodity deliveries to Crimea were announced by Verkhovna Rada members Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov. Their initiative is being backed by members of the radical Right Sector banned in Russia.

The promises of the politicians have not affected the volume of turnover on the border, head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov announced on Saturday.

"Everything is calm, everything is normal. Up to 100 trucks are waiting to be allowed to cross the border [of Ukraine with Crimea] the way it was before," he said to journalists in Yevpatoria.

He also said that in view of the blockade of the regional authorities intend to pay closer attention to the situation with prices even though they have not noticed any significant price hikes. "We are not in a position to influence the price level directly, but if someone will try profiteering, the attitude to them will be corresponding," Aksyonov said.

He also voiced hope that those who promised to organize the food blockade of Crimea would give up their idea. "I hope that these people will change their minds. How long can they go on harming their own people?" he wondered.

Earlier Aksyonov said that the possible suspension of food deliveries from Ukraine won't have a significant impact on Crimea's food supplies and the shortage will be covered through an increase in deliveries across the Kerch Strait. Aksyonov said that the throughput capacity of the ferriage linking Crimea with other parts of Russia permits a significant increase in cargo flows in case of necessity.

On September 16 Crimean Vice Premier Dmitry Polonsky told Interfax that the possible blockade will damage food producers in southern Ukraine.

"The action is attempted by people who emigrated from Crimea to Ukraine but their attempt will damage their new homeland, to say the least. Ukraine's Kherson region has traditionally delivered food to Crimea in big quantities. Even though the volume of deliveries has declined significantly, for many Ukrainian farm producers, transport and trading companies the possible blockade will pose a serious problem," Polonsky said.

In his opinion, the blockade will not have a serious negative impact on the situation in Crimea.

"There will be no negative effect for Crimea. They [organizers of the blockade] will not achieve anything. It was the same in spring 2014 when Ukraine stopped water deliveries. It was so in December last year when the Ukrainian side stopped railway communications. Not one of these steps had a significant influence on the situation in Crimea," Polonsky said.

The authorities in Sevastopol have also said they don't take the threats of a trade blockade of the Crimean peninsula by Ukraine seriously. "We regard such declarations with irony," Kirill Moskalenko, press secretary of the governor of Sevastopol, told Interfax.

"The entire peninsula is logistically closely linked with mainland Russia. There remain certain inconveniences but the population regards them with understanding," he said.

"As for the so-called food blockade, it is most likely to fire back at Ukrainian manufacturers rather than the residents of Sevastopol and Crimea," Moskalenko added.

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