Blockade of Crimea? Ukraine suspends cargo traffic to and from peninsula

© Maks Vetrov
The Ukrainian government has suspended the movement of cargo between Crimea and Ukraine, citing an initiative put forward by PM Arseny Yatsenyuk. The suspension will be active until a list of goods allowed to be delivered to the peninsula is compiled.

The decision was preceded by a request from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday which wanted to look into the possibility of a temporary “termination of road and railroad freight transport communication with Crimea in both directions”.

Within a matter of hours, the ban on cargo transport exchange was approved by the Ukrainian cabinet.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk proposed that a list of goods and services which could be supplied to Crimea be worked out.

“So that this list corresponds with Ukrainian interests, first of all I propose to engage the Mejlis [highest executive-representative body] of the Crimean Tatar People to make sure that the decision will take the interests of our fraternal Crimean Tatar people into account,” the Prime Minister said in a statement.

At the same time Yatsenyuk ordered that electricity transmission lines in the Kherson region, which supply Crimea with electricity, be repaired, RIA reported.

“In order to restore energy delivery in the Kherson region and ensure energy security of our country, I am asking to start repairing works urgently where it is possible,” he said.

On Saturday, transmission towers in Ukraine’s Kherson region were exploded, leading to a power supply shortage the region as well as a blackout in Crimea. The radical Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) movement and Crimean Tatar “activists” have been trying to block repairs.

Russian deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said that the situation in Crimea is difficult but not disastrous. He reported that the peninsula is producing 30 percent of its required power which is enough for the functioning of significant facilities and transport infrastructure.

“We are working on accelerating the construction of the power bridge. By mid-December the problem of power supplies to Crimea will be significantly less acute,” Kozak said as cited by RIA.

Response to Russian food embargo

Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has warned that Ukraine will respond to the food embargo which Russia is going to introduce as of January 1 with a similar step.

“Speaking about the embargo, I would like to make it clear that Russian threats to introduce an embargo on Ukrainian goods will face the same response from the Ukrainian authorities,” he said.

"There will be an analogous Ukrainian decision to launch an embargo against Russia to every Russian decision to launch an embargo against Ukraine,” he added.

Moscow announced that it will impose a food embargo on Ukraine as of January 1, 2016, when the economic part of Kiev’s European Association Agreement comes into force.

"Since Ukraine joined economic and financial sanctions against the Russian Federation, we have decided to introduce protective measures by imposing a food embargo,” Russia’s Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev said.