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A bottomless pit: the costs of Crimea’s annexation by Russia. OSW Commentary No. 143, 29.07.2014

Fischer, Ewa and Rogoza, Jadwiga (2014) A bottomless pit: the costs of Crimea’s annexation by Russia. OSW Commentary No. 143, 29.07.2014. [Policy Paper]

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    The annexation of Crimea has brought the Russian authorities significant dividends, in particular on the domestic stage: it has resulted in an unprecedented social and political consolidation, and strengthened Vladimir Putin’s position after several years of decline in social support for him. It has provided Russia with strategic benefits, giving it broad access to the Black Sea and the military infrastructure on the peninsula, as well as access to natural gas and crude oil reserves. Russia has also taken over numerous assets (including the tourist infrastructure) previously owned by the Ukrainian state. However, the decision itself concerning Moscow’s annexation of Crimea was taken off the cuff, with no calculation of the costs of integrating it with the Russian legal, political and socio-economic space. Russia took over a region that required subsidies from the Ukrainian budget; moreover, the annexation struck at the most important industry of the Crimean economy – tourism. Crimea’s integration with Russia will be a complex process that entails high costs, financial, organisational and social, including multi-billion dollar investments in the modernisation and development of infrastructure, covering the region’s budget deficit, and paying out social benefits. For reasons of prestige and political significance, Moscow is treating Crimea as a showcase region. Russia is determined to prove that the Crimean incorporation will be beneficial for the region’s economy and will raise people’s living standards. However, the expenses triggered by Crimea’s integration will coincide with a deteriorating economic situation in Russia, aggravated by US and EU sanctions, and this may force Russia to postpone or even give up some of its ambitious investments in the peninsula. Some of the integration costs will have to be borne by other Russian regions, even though they already face serious financial problems that have forced them to reduce their own investment programs. Another issue that has come into question is the fulfilment of the Crimean people’s’ expectations concerning the improvement of their living standards, due to the tourist sector’s problems (small-scale tourist services used to be one of the local people’s main sources of income), the rising costs of maintenance, and finally, restrictions of civil rights after the introduction of the more restrictive Russian legislation.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Russia
    Countries > Ukraine
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2014 17:10
    Number of Pages: 7
    Last Modified: 06 Dec 2014 17:10

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