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Ukraine’s decision to stop trade with Crimea is only formal - Sevastopol governor

January 16, 2016, 17:23 UTC+3 SEVASTOPOL

On January 16, Ukrainian authorities are fully halting any trade turnover with Crimea, with exemptions to be made for socially significant products and household appliances

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© Artem Geodakyan/TASS

SEVASTOPOL, January 16. /TASS/. Ukraine’s ban on supplies of Ukrainian goods to Crimea is of a formal character, as realistically the peninsula refused those products long ago, Sevastopol’s Governor Sergei Menyailo said on saturda.

"This order is of a formal character. Due to the so-called blockade of Crime, we refused from Ukrainian goods well in September already. Back then the share of Russian products made 70-80%. We began to refocus the consumer market in 2014 already, thus at the time the Ukrainian side began limiting its supplies, people in the peninsula did not feel any inconveniences," the governor’s press secretary quoted him.

On January 16, Ukrainian authorities are fully halting any trade turnover with Crimea, with exemptions to be made for socially significant products and household appliances. A government resolution that takes effect on Saturday rounded out the economic blockade of Russia’s Crimean Federal District on the part of Ukraine.

On December 16, 2015, the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers endorsed the finishing of trade with Crimea. The resolution on it reads the end of trade takes effect as of January 16, 2016.

The government resolution bans the supplies of commodities and services through the customs offices on the Ukrainian territory and their imports from Crimea. Exceptions from this regulation are made the individuals’ personal possessions transported in hand-carried bags and in luggage, and socially significant foodstuffs transferred across the border if their total cost does not exceed an equivalent of $ 400 and the total weight stands at $50 per passenger.

The list of socially significant goods includes premium-quality wheat flour, bread baked from high-grade flour, mixed wheat/rye bread, spaghetti, buckwheat, rice, beef (of the high category), pork, lard, poultry, first-grade cooked sausage, 2.5% milk, 20% soured cream, soft cheeses, butter, eggs, granulated sugar, sunflower seed oil, potatoes, and salt.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk also said in this connection humanitarian aid fell into the category of exceptions.

In addition, the government resolution does not ban supplies of electricity from Crimea to Ukraine and vice versa, should the National Security and Defence Council pass an appropriate decision on them. One more exception from the rule has been made for the supplies of Crimean goods having strategic importance for various branches of the economy, as well as for security if the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade issues appropriate confirmations regarding those.

This resolution eliminates the last levers of Ukrainian influence on Crimea, believes Dr. Ruslan Bortnik, the director of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis of and Governance in Politics.

"The blocking of transport communications and then of economic cooperation and the freshwater supply canal - all of these were the instruments of Ukrainian influence on the situation in Crimea, the political social and cultural influence," Dr. Bortnik told TASS. "Today Ukraine has renounced these instruments in practical terms."

"By waving the political slogans like ‘Let’s Get Crimea Back’ the Ukrainian government is trying to turn its back and run away from Crimea - that’s the real sense of what’s happening today," he said. "If a country wants to regain control of something, it concentrates efforts on the expansion of its presence there in the cultural, informational and economic aspect, it expands the circle of people who are loyal to itself and who work in these areas and have connections there."

"In other words, if you want to befriend someone then you try to approach him or her from different positions and to establish communication at various levels," he continued. "And if you want to quarrel with someone, you choose a different tactic and tell everyone around, who he or she actually is."

"Crimea today is an instrument of shaping up public opinion inside Ukraine, as well as inside Europe and the U.S.," Dr. Bortnik said. "It’s a tool of political technologies used to show how evil Russia is and how it breaks the norms of international law."

"The parties to practical settlement of this conflict aren’t seeking any compromise solutions," he said. "Crimea for them is a symbol. It should stand tall as a monument so that there would be grounds for the current international and domestic policies.".

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