Transport blockade can help return Crimea to Ukraine
Several foreign sea and aircraft are still coming to the Crimea despite the ban from international organizations and threat of sanctions following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in March. A project entitled ‘Blacklist’ has been initiated as a response with online publication of a list of all those vessels and aircraft illegally getting to the peninsula’s ports.
One of the initiators of the project is the editor of the website Back Sea News, Andrei Klimenko. He spoke about the project with Radio Svoboda’s Crimean site.
After the annexation of the Crimea and the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution condemning this act, they saw that there were vessels that were still entering Crimean ports. Their project was initially going to be only about sea vessels, however they soon released that the list needed to include an aviation section. They will soon also be adding an investment blacklist.
They swiftly discovered that the vessels entering Crimean ports are not only from Russian boat-owners, but from companies in Turkey and Greece.
It is possible, Klimenko says, that they will soon begin producing a list of Ukrainian and foreign campaigns who, despite everything, are trying to continue work on occupied territory.
The Crimea is cut off from the mainland and cannot provide for all its needs itself. This makes an economic and transport blockade a viable part of the campaign for the return of the Crimea to Ukraine.
Asked how many vessels had illegally entered Crimean ports since their monitoring began, Klimenko said that they can speak of 40. Of these 15 were Turkish; 15 Greek. Both these countries are members of NATO. The project’s software providers recently came them free access to an extremely good programme for following the movement of boats. This makes it possible to go back in time which they are currently doing, looking at each Crimean port. They began their monitoring from March 27 when the above-mentioned UN General Assembly resolution called on states, international organizations and other structures to refrain from action which could directly or indirectly be viewed as acceptance of Crimea’s annexed station.
“NATO’s position on the Crimea is entirely unequivocal and tough. Greece is a member of the EU, and Turkey an associated member. Yet their shipping companies are ignoring the UN Resolution and everybody pretends to not notice. We also recorded one boat from Rumania and a sailing boat from Bulgaria. “ The latter, he notes, arrived specifically on July 12 when the Crimea was engaged in ‘Russia Day’ festivities. No Russian media mentioned the presence of the Bulgarian vessel, and Klimenko believes that they may have been asked not to mention that it was there.
There was also the ferry line Zonguldak [Turkey] - Sevastopol. This included a large ferry which could take several dozen heavy-freight international vehicles. “After we published our material and Ukrainian diplomats got involved, they stopped running.
Then they quickly, within 10 days, supposedly sold the ferry. It changed its flag from Turkish to the republic of Palau, a state in the Philippine Sea with a population of 19 thousand. Now this travels from Zonguldak to Sevastopol. We’ve also seen how this ferry made several trips from Novorossiysk to Sevastopol.
Our sources say that all Russian military ships take rocket complexes to Syria, and Russia doesn’t have enough boats to transport military technology. They’ve used this Turkish ferry for transporting weapons from Novorossiysk to Sevastopol”
There are two other ferries, he says, where the situation was similar, though a different Turkish company was involved. These were called Ulusa and Ulusa-2. They changed their names completely to Sevastopol and Novorossiysk and were part of a fictitious sale within 10 days. They now also fly under a Palau flag travelling from Novorossiysk to Feodosiya, helping the country which has occupied the Crimea. “We’re working on this situation and I think that for the real owner there will be serious consequences”.
There has only been case which has already led to a criminal case abroad. The Turkish procurator has initiated a criminal investigation with respect to the owners of the Adriana Liner which entered a Crimean port on July 14.
As far as the Ukrainian government is concerned, it is not doing enough to counter the situation. While critical of their passiveness, Klimenko points out the enormous difficulties for a new government under present circumstances. He says that for this reason he thinks that civic organizations have an important role to play.
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