Public discussion entitled “Dubious prospects of occupied Crimea: blooming or drying out?” was held at the ICDS on 10 March 2020. The event was jointly organised by the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) and the Embassy of Ukraine to Estonia.
Invited experts addressed some military, security, economic, humanitarian and informational aspects of the present situation in Crimea.
As noted by Mariana Betsa, Ambassador of Ukraine to Estonia: “Russia is stubbornly avoiding negotiations on the de-occupation and is completely ignoring any attempts of Western democracies to discuss and assess the present situation on the peninsula.”.
In his remarks, Dmitri Teperik, ICDS Chief Executive and Director of Programme “Resilient Ukraine” elaborated on humanitarian and societal aspects of the occupation: “Due to total militarization of minds on the peninsula, there is a growing challenge for Ukraine how to address young generation in Crimea. Born under the occupation, many children are dragged into various paramilitary groups and other brainwashing activities.”.
There is also a growing number of worrisome signals about the continuous suppression of the political and human rights of many Crimean Tatars and brutal persecution of opposition opinion leaders in Crimea.
Tamila Tasheva, Deputy Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, described damaging consequences of the occupation to the information sphere: “Many Crimean residents remain suffering from total info-exclusion while broadcasting of Ukrainian free media is blocked and local authorities continue to exert the pressure and harassment against civil journalists and media activists who try to present an independent view on the events in Crimea.”.
In his presentation, Mykhailo Samus, Deputy Director for International Affairs at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (Kyiv, Ukraine) touched upon the increasing militarization of the peninsula. He noted that Crimea-based forces of the Russian Federation impose serious military threat not only to South Ukraine but also other Black Sea states, including some NATO members (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey). “If Ukraine wants to safeguard passages to its sea harbors, it must develop a strong navy,” concluded Samus.
While some Western companies try doing business with the Crimean entities despite the international sanctions, some Ukrainian politicians are getting ready to consider resuming water supply to occupied Crimea. In addition, the peninsula is used for facilitating economic warfare against Ukraine by obstructing its sea freight to the Azov Sea ports and thus causing multimillion losses to Ukraine’s budget.
Mykhailo Gonchar, President of the Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” (Kyiv, Ukraine) explained why control over Crimea is also profitable for Russia in energy sector: “It is one of the reasons why Russia guards so furiously the exclusive economic zone near Crimea.” He also pointed out the extremely important weight of the North-Crimean Canal which is the only sustainable source of fresh water necessary for the full-scale functioning of the industrial and agricultural enterprises in Crimea. “Due to the impossibility of diversification water supply in Crimea (unlike gas and electricity), Russia might have a military scenario for taking control over the water source in Kherson,” warned Gonchar.