Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Crimea: The Price of Annexation!

THE tears of the Russian elite were dripping yesterday, as President Putin delivered a speech in St. Georges Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace in which he claimed to put right an error of history: thus marking the return of Crimea to Russian control.  Mr. Putin reached out deep into the souls of the Russian people regaling his auduence with historic moments beginning with the 10th-century baptism of Prince Vladimir, whose conversion to Christianity transformed the kingdom known as Rus, to the final collapse of the Soviet Union.  A moment of extreme patroitic pain for many Russians: when as Putin declared:  'Millions of Russians went to bed in one country and woke up abroad, [and] overnight, they were minorities in the former Soviet republics, and the Russian people became one of the biggest - if not the biggest - divided nations in the world.'

As the proud tears of the bosses of mother Russia fell in Moscow the contents of the A.T.M machines emptied in the sunny seaside resorts of Crimea, and banks that still have cash have been imposing tight restrictions on withdrawals.  All flights, other than those bound to or from Moscow remain cancelled as the Crimean tragedy unfolds.  The markets and the God of Mamon are about to speak, and Crimea which lacks a self-sustaining economy depends heavily on the Ukrainian mainland for vital services, including electricity and fresh water.

One economist, Oleksandr Zholud, pointed out that the 'Ukraine can quite easily cut off Crimea' and '[f]rom the economic point of view it looks like a sinkhole.'  Crimean officials hope now that Moscow will come to their aid.

Igor N. Slyunayev, Russia's regional development minister, has been gloomy about the Crimean peninsula's infrastructural needs, and he says:
'The peninsula is not self-sufficient when it comes to the entire group of virtually important resources - first of all, electricity and water,' and '[a]bout 80% of its territories water comes through the northern Crimean canal from the Dnieper river.  Also, 80% of Crimea depends on imports of electricity.'

In a bleak assessment Mr. Slyunayev told the Russian newspaper Kommersant:  'Today, our Crimea looks no better than Palestine.'

Today, in the International New York Times', the journalist David M. Herszenhorn reports:
'Fully absorbing Crimea is a potentially herculean undertaking, which would require issuing new passports, changing the currency to rubles from hryvnias, and intergrationg completely distinct systems for property records, taxes, legal disputes and more.  The process is frought with risks, including the possibily that the Ukrainian government could move to futher isolate the geographically remote peninsula by shutting vital transportation lines.  There is no overland transportation link between Russia and Crimea, and building a bridge across the shortest waterway, near the Crimean city of Kerch, would take years and cost an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion.'

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