November 26, 2015 -
Oleg Makarenko, PolitRussia -
Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski
‘10 considerations on the Crimea blockade”
First, a few words about Turkey. I understand that the main topic now is the plain shot down by the Turks. It is already clear that Turkey made a big mistake and that there will be serious consequences for it. Vladimir Putin expressed quite definitively: “This loss is connected with the stab in the back by accomplices of terrorism.” Our president has called the government of Turkey an accomplice of terrorism, and how Russia will deal with these terrorists is known...
Nevertheless, I would still like to present a few considerations on the blockade of Crimea. If important decisions are now being made concerning Turkey, then the situation in Crimea has already become quite clear.
1. The situation with electricity in Crimea is quite sad, but it is not critical. Some stores are working and electricity generation is growing. It’s obvious that there will be blackouts, but important facilities such as, for example, hospitals, will have enough electricity available.
2. In Crimea there is quite a large fleet of powerful diesel generators which the state installed for Crimean enterprises earlier for free. Now these diesel generators are being confiscated from enterprises and over the next week will be distributed to strategically important infrastructural facilities. Another 300 small generators have been delivered to Crimea by plane by the Ministry for Emergency Situations. Thus, we can expect that after a week or two the issue of electricity will be more or less resolved. By the new year, the first energy bridge will be working which will allow the winter cold to be braved without problems. The final resolution of the electricity problem can be expected around spring time.
3. The Chinese are working to run a cable across the Kerch Strait. The first energy bridge will be working on December 20. Why are the Chinese, and not the Russians paving it? Because, as you see, it is urgently needed but we have not yet developed the necessary technology. In fact, pay attention to the fact that the Chinese do not care that sanctions were imposed on Crimea. Relations with Russia are more important for them.
4. Some are writing that, as they say, Stalin provided Crimea with full electricity in three weeks. This is a somewhat naive assumption.
First of all, the South of Russia has long had an energy deficit and there is a problem with capacity. Especially for Crimea the construction of the third energy unit of Rostov AES was accelerated and additional transmissions lines connecting Crimea with Kerch have been constructed. This is a large-scale construction project and a submarine cable is just a small part of this work.
Accomplishing this work at a faster rate can only be economic at the expensive of quality, yet the situation with electricity with Crimea is not so urgent that a risk should be taken.
Secondly, from the point of view of Stalin, everything in Crimea was in order. Military facilities and major infrastructural objects would not be left without electricity under any circumstances. Issues of guaranteeing electricity to supermarkets, cinemas, and personal apartments would hardly be solved on a priority basis by Stalin.
5. Pay attention to the fact that even now in November 2015, Crimea is facing serious problems as a result of Kiev’s disabling of electricity. We should thank our diplomats who won a year and half for us. If electricity had been slashed in 2014 as Ukrainian and Russian pseudo-patriots proposed, then the problem would only be worse.
6.Why did Kiev decide to create problems for Crimea in such a strange way? I suggest that we observe Ukrainian politicians' traditional desire to bargain. Mister Poroshenko is showing Russia that he can make problems for Crimea and in doing so he is most likely hoping to conclude a more favorable contract for the supply of electricity to Ukraine from Russia.
Of course, the situation looks strange: Kiev now resembles a village drunkard trying to blackmail the local general store by gnawing at the electrical connections of the store. However, I think that Mr. Poroshenko simply doesn’t have any other choice. There is so little money in the budget of Ukraine that any attempt to honestly comply with agreements would guarantee that the country be led into final bankruptcy.
7. Will Russia come to aid our misguided Ukrainian brothers? I think not this time. Although we would look at the collapse of the energy system of Ukraine with great sadness, the blockade of Crimea leaves us with no other choice than responding symmetrically.
Russian customs no longer allow coal to be delivered to Ukraine. The DPR has also stopped shipments of coal in the direction of Kiev. Gazprom, meanwhile, has cut off the supply of gas to Ukraine until it receives new payments. I’ll also remind everyone that two weeks ago Ukraine temporarily stopped buying electricity from Russia. It is quite obvious that prior to the lifting of the blockade of Crimea there will be no new deliveries of energy from Russia.
If one considers that the Americans are still more than unwilling to pay 3 billion dollars of Ukrainian debt by the end of December then the “Ukraine is not Russia” project will have the chance to end ahead of time. If nothing changes, then there will be no money and no electricity in the new year in Ukraine.
8. Do they understand the depth of the problem in Kiev? I have no doubt that they understand. Actually, this is why Kiev’s promises to restore the supply of electricity to Crimea can be heard daily.
I’ll repeat: this indicates that Kiev wanted to bargain with us. However, this time, it is possible that we will not talk with Kiev and that it will have to untangle energy problems on its own.
Is Ukraine worried about winter? From a purely technical point of view, probably yes due to the complete stalling of the energy supply industry and other emergency measures. But, as you know, transitioning Ukraine’s economy into such a regime does not increase chances of survival.
9. Many hot heads propose that Ukraine be dealt with as harshly as possible and that Ukraine should not be allowed to be supplied with coal or electricity even after the blockade of Crimea will be lifted.
These hotheads forget that Ukraine is now under the direct control of the US and that its elites will remain warm in their offices anyway. It’s not Mr. Yatsenyuk or Mr. Saakashvili who will “freeze solid,” but those who are held hostage by the Americans - Ukrainians.
Such a scenario does not categorically suit us, but organizing a “Holodomor” in Ukraine might bring some political points to our American friends and partners.
Ask Crimeans if they’ve begun to love Ukraine after the electricity blockade by Kiev. They’ll reply that they have not. And rest assured: If Russia were to follow the pseudo-patriots and attempted to freeze Ukraine, then Russophobic moods in Ukraine would only be strengthened by this.
Now it is already clear that the “Ukraine is not Russia” project has failed. It’s already necessary to think about the future, about how Russia will build relations with Ukraine after an adequate change of government in Kiev.
10. Finally, I suggest that we pay attention to Europe’s reaction. The German foreign ministry directly called the disabling of electricity to Crimea a crime. Why? Because the Germans are not fools and they perfectly understand that if Ukraine is given a free hand, then next time it will blow up transmission line towers along the European Union pipeline.
Kiev’s attempt to blackmail Russia with Crimea has failed. Presumably, Kiev will now try to rewind and quickly fix the power line to Crimea. If for some reason Kiev can’t do this, then Crimea will remain without electricity anyway, but Ukraine might face a winter with the most severe energy crisis in its modern history.