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Monday, March 24, 2014

Crimea's water supply - it's now Moscow's headache

The way influence flows in Crimea
Now that Russia has full military control over Crimea the the implications of taking control are beginning to sink in with President Medvedev claiming that "it's now our headache". The most obvious headaches are electricity and water. Medvedev directly raised this issue saying:
"This question, of course needs to be addressed through international negotiations, but we will need to chose the best way to supply the peninsular." 
An interesting development given Russia's reluctance to engage with Ukraine to date. The water situation in particular should concern Moscow as Ukraine supplies most of Crimea's water, something the above map of the Soviet era North Crimea Canal makes quite clear. So just as Hong Kong's dependence on China reduced the UK's room for manoeuvre, Crimea can not survive without Ukraine.

So what will Russia do? Short of annexing yet more territory to secure the canal - which would surely trigger further sanctions - not to mention a military confrontation with Ukraine - and push them into full economic isolation, logically they must at some point come to the table. Ukraine is unlikely to immediately cut off the water and cause real hardship for the inhabitants, who are still Ukrainian citizens, but nor is Ukraine a charity. In the longer term Russia could try to construct alternative conduits but that would be complex, expensive, and time consuming so some agreement with Kiev will need to be reached.

Obviously expecting to strike a deal with Ukraine so shortly after annexing its territory is unrealistic. But there are numerous other issues that Russia will need to discuss, the transshipment of gas to the EU, Ukraine's outstanding debts to Russia, and other border issues. Russia could perhaps seek to give ground in other areas.

So will Russia change its tune and come to the table? Logic would dictate it has two choices, go further and secure the Crimean hinterland, including the North Crimea Canal or seek a deal with Ukraine. Hopefully it will be the latter...


Rik said...

The whole EU discussion looks more like a 'branding' thing than a political marketing sales excercise for Cameron & Co. Things move from sales to marketing and from there to branding with no clear borders of course.

More branding as it is a long term thing and it reflects or better should reflect the basic brand values of the party. At the end of the day it is in this respect very similar to dogfood or soap.
Basic in the way that it is the issue on which the Tories like to get the marketshare back that looks lost now to IP.

To make it work properly one has to bear in mind what is usually required for that. And look at the own weaknesses.

Starting with the fact the Cameron is simply not a 100% credible EU-sceptic/EU-critic simply by the fact that he moved rather late into that direction. And becasue he looks forced in that direction more than from his own choice.
Also going not full throttle is at best a neutral for him as far as EUsceptism goes. However understandable and rational it might be.

Starting from here a clear policy would be more or less essential. And a lot of confirmation thereof. It is simply close to what a lot of people see a new brandvalue.
Meaning a lot of confirmation and a clear coherent and consistent communication towards the voterbase (the political clients).

So how are Cameron/Tories selling this one. Simply not great.
We hear a lot of Hagueish stuff, 'it is now about okay with a little change it will be sufficient' like.
He has a lot of disadvantages in the system already. Hard to kick eg the Bulgarians out of the UK at the moment, there are international obligations, but how to tell that to a lot of voters.

And here with one of the first events that basically deals with one of the main problems in the eyes of a lot of the potential voters he goes MIA.

People donot want another financial blackhole in the EU.
Not as it means a lot of subsidies that will have to be paid via the EU budget by the UK.
It also donot like a further increase in (very) dodgy politicians (from mainly South and East) in the EU. People fear and rightly so the more bananarepublic stuff you bring in the more the EU itself will resemble one. While also few voters will buy that EU reform works, simply from eg the Greek and Italian examples. Long term members and still very dodgy governance wise.
And may be most important no new Rumenians (who were themselves the new Poles) until the immigration issue is properly solved. Not properly as in EU rhetoric but simple properly properly.

Here is simply another European 3rd world country (and a big one on top of that) brought much closer to the EU (and therefor UK). With highly dodgy faces on top of that: neo-fascist, nationalist warmongers and dramaqueens.
With even the chance of war with Russia which hardly anybody finds a particularly good idea.
Might not be as bad as it is presented to the public. But if you donot want a thing misrepresented donot work actively towards doing that yourself.
Basically both Cameron and Hague look way too eager to play the worldleader in this respect. A thing their population simply donot want them to be in the first place.

Seen the topic exact the opposite message you should send to your voters re one of the main parts of your brandvalues. As said this part is new and even (partly) in a differerent way from only a few years ago. You cannot afford to move all over the place on confirmation (leave that to Mr Ed) thereof there is little or no room in the credibility for that.

Anyway this has long term project and a costly one written all over it.
History shows that support of these things usually drops further when it costs. Either bodybag costs of financial ones (via cuts at home at the same time).
So at the moment it is already close to a disaster in the future it is very likely to get even worse.

And as said earlier I cannot see the strategic/geopolitical advantage of it. Looks like creating a new empire. And unlike former empires modern empires simply cost a lot of money.

Jesper said...

I've been sent this link by a Russian in Simferopol:

It is a video, narrated in English, intended to show the situation from their perspective. As with all that is being reported about the situation there is the risk of biased reporting. I'd advise people to hear both sides of an argument before deciding, view the video & maybe there is something learned.

Denis Cooper said...

The Crimean peninsular is almost attached to Russia in the east.

Anonymous said...

To much biases in so little text. I'm ashamed to be part of the same Europe as you. Actually I am ashamed of Europe's stance.

Russia is not evil, America isn't either, Kiev also is not evil. But governments have interests, no allies, if you can't even think about geopolitics and make better sense of the whole story than "Russia invaded Ukraine, they got what they deserved" I suggest you go back to school and learn to think critically.

Anonymous said...

Why America and EU can not pay a duty of Ukraine to Russia, at the expense of the obligations which should give president of Ukraine for production of slate gas by the Americans, for the benefit of Europe? Unless it is impossible will agree with the president of Ukraine signing of these obligations? You see when there will come(step) winter and Russia will cut off from Ukraine delivery of gas, Ukraine will rise before Russia on knees, in order that the president of Russia has excused a duty for gas to Ukraine. Unless the president of USA can it admit(allow)? The winter comes nearer. The delivery of gas in Ukraine from territory of Russia is a question of life of many inhabitants of Ukraine! The women, children, old men and old woman doomed on extinction for famine and cold. You see many city dwellers in cities of Ukraine can not to themselves cook and fry meal. You see and EU can decide(solve) this problem not having lost the benefit. You see the decision of this question can be mutually advantageous if competently approach to the sanction of this question. Unless the question of a problem of Ukraine is not possible for deciding(solving)? It is necessary simply competently to approach to the decision of these questions.