The Crimean crisis is gradually approaching its culmination. The geopolitical future of the peninsula will be determined via a referendum next Sunday. Already, the autonomous republic's authorities are making plans to redistribute state property. "The property of state companies, including companies mining mineral resources, such as Chernomorneftegaz, as well as other state companies, such as the State Railway Administration (Ukrzaliznytsia), and some state health resorts will become properties of the Republic of Crimea in the near future,” said Crimea’s First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev. We ty to figure out what will happen to ports, the railway, and freight traffic after the referendum.
Cruises and Ports Obviously, this list will include commercial seaports. What awaits Crimean harbors after the peninsula separates from Ukraine? Industry leaders are so far refraining from making predictions, preferring to wait for concrete decisions. "Crimean ports account for about 15% of the total cargo traffic. It is difficult for me to make any assumptions or assessments firstly because I am not a politician. Secondly, I functionally represent the ministry. Accordingly, I can say that we are primarily thinking about how to operate properly,” said Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Dmytro Demydovych.
The head of the Administration of Seaports of Ukraine, Yurii Vaskov, is also restrained in his assessments. "I would like to think about the best. I do not even want to consider the possibility that the ownership of Crimean ports can be changed. It is difficult for me to predict what actions should be taken in the event of a negative scenario," he said. However, Vaskov did say that a scenario involving the use of force would have a negative impact on cruise operations and greatly reduce the attractiveness of Crimean ports to international operators.
"We insist that the situation should develop legally. That is, [a situation in which] property is not transferred but simply taken and its status changed should not happen. Otherwise, it could reach a point in which ports can simply be closed. Moreover, they will not be able to use them because a port is a place for provision of international services. Crimean ports are important primarily from the viewpoint of cruises. If a cruise operator sees danger - commercial or physical - it will simply not go there, and this is simply not in anyone's interest. After all, they are needed not to develop another type of activity there but for them to be able to bring benefit to the people that live and work there. For this, there should be only a legal mechanism. Otherwise, international partners, customers of ports will not take these risks,” said Vaskov.
Thus, the situation involving ports will add fuel to the fire of a holiday season that is already troubled. Those tourists that have booked hotels on the peninsula for the May holidays are now abandoning their intentions, fearing military hostilities. Moreover, even peaceful secession will not make the Crimea more attractive to tourists.
Firstly, services will become somewhat complicated because passenger trains from Russia will have to cross the Ukrainian border twice. In addition, fares will be revised upward immediately if control of the railway infrastructure is transferred to the Russian Railways. This will steer away those who choose the peninsula because of its affordability. Therefore, the Ukrainian traveler, who is accustomed to cheap tickets from Ukrzaliznytsia, will most likely stop traveling to the Crimea.
Russian transit cargoes accounted for about 39% of the cargo traffic at Crimean ports in 2012
This means that those Crimeans that earn most money mainly during the holiday season will have to tighten their belts this holiday season. Loss of jobs and a consequent rise in crimes are possible. This will also not make the region more attractive to tourists. Protests by Crimean Tatars may also escalate the situation.
Cargo The cargo sector will also not able to boast of bright prospects. As already noted, additional customs and border control points will appear on the border of the peninsula. This means that cargo clearance will increase the period of transportation of goods, which is unlikely to suit cargo shippers, who have already adopted a wait-and-see attitude and are not sending their products to Crimean ports, thereby depriving Crimean ports of the opportunity to generate money. In addition, transport tariffs will be brought to the levels established by the Russian Railways. This means that goods that are being sent to or from Ukraine will be redirected to other harbors. For example, metal goods can be redirected from Sevastopol to Nikolayev and Odessa. Coal can be redirected from Kerch to Yuzhny and petroleum products from Feodosia to Kherson. Meanwhile, Ukrainian cargoes account for nothing more or less than about 50% of the cargo traffic of Crimean ports in 2012.
Russian transit cargoes accounted for about 39% of the cargo traffic at Crimean ports in 2012. It was concentrated mostly in Kerch: it is convenient for harbors to deliver cargoes there via the Kerch ferry or transship them from anchored low-tonnage vessels onto larger vessels. A small proportion of the transit traffic also goes to Feodosiya. However, Sevastopol, which is located at the opposite end of the peninsula and caters mainly to exports from Ukraine, will be affected much more. Yevpatoriya, where exports, imports, and domestic goods account for more than 50% of the total cargo volume, will also experience difficulties.
To redirect cargo traffic from other Russian Black Sea ports to the Crimea, it will be necessary to expand access roads and build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. However, these are not projects that can be implemented in one day - they require long-term development, expertise, coordination, and allocation of funds in the budget. Meanwhile, Crimean port and railroad workers will need to earn something. By all indications, the Crimean transport sector will have to tighten its belt in the near future in case of annexation of the peninsula.