The Right Sector/’Tatar activist’-organized food blockade of Crimea is off to a rocky start, with a split appearing to emerge over the initiative among both domestic and foreign supporters of post-Maidan Ukraine. From governors and journalists to experts and social commentators, many are beginning to challenge the blockade’s logic and rationale.
The governor warned that these “unofficial groups” could go on to demand power, confident that having “crossed the line,” they may come to think of themselves as arbiters of state power. “The state must not give up to anyone its monopoly on the use of force,” he emphasized.
Others criticized the logic and timing of the blockade, which was announced last week by Poroshenko Bloc MPs Refat Chubarov and Mustafa Dzhemilev, who also serve as leading figures in the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a group claiming to represent the peninsula’s Tatar community.
Vehement Russia critic Adrian Karatnycky, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former president of US government-affiliated NGO Freedom House, sarcastically commented that with a “serious ceasefire in the Donbas…let’s start heating things up in the Crimea. Let’s enrage Putin; that way we can help the peace process. Timing and sequencing is everything in the tactics of war and political struggle. Opening up a two front struggle now is –with all my respect for the Crimean Tatars –frankly insane.”
Shaun Walker, The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, tweeted that he personally “really [doesn’t] get the logic of this Crimean Tatar / Pravy Sektor blockade of Crimea at all…”
Meanwhile, in an opinion piece published by the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe’s Crimean Service, columnist Ivan Serhiyenko offered a detailed criticism of the blockade, saying that it will not help the cause of the Tatar activists’ human rights (ostensibly the reason for the blockade in the first place), adding that the obstruction is not only unlawful, but that it won’t cause any major economic damage to Crimea’s economy. He complained that Kiev does not have a coherent strategy on returning Crimea, or even the Donbass region, to Ukraine. He lamented that ultimately, the blockade is “doomed to failure.”
English-language social media jumped in to poke holes in the initiative, one user asking “how exactly is the blockade supposed to make more [Crimeans] desire to be ‘un-annexed’?” […]
[…] When rumors first spread throughout Ukrainian and Russian media that the Mejlis and Right Sector were planning a blockade of Crimea, many detailed analyses of the outcomes of such an event, including ones from the Ukrainian side, concluded that such a blockade, especially of food products, would hurt Ukraine more than Crimea, if Crimea was hurt at all. The majority of products on the shelves in Crimea are from Russia, and while Crimeans can live without food products from Kherson, villages such as the one snapshotted in this report suffer drastically from the loss of Crimean customers. In the words of one of Voskresenka’s residents, “the village is screwed,” and this reality is undoubtedly the case in many of Ukraine’s small villages whose normal economic life is being forcibly disrupted by the “heroic actions” of Right Sector and the Mejlis. While the Mejlis and Right Sector confidently declared that their blockade will make hunger-riots engulf Crimea, it is all the more likely that Kherson’s small villages will be the ones protesting.