Can COVID-19 cause de-occupation of Crimea?

April 7, 2020

Is the exodus of the Russian occupants and the de-occupation of Crimea possible due to the coronavirus?

At first glance, this question can be taken as a joke, but nevertheless, there are cases in the history of Crimea when local outbreaks of infectious diseases were important causes of the defeat or retreat of the occupying forces. So in the middle of the XIV century, Dzhanibek’s troops besieged the Genoese fortress of Kafa. Realizing that a long siege would not lead to anything, Dzhanibek ordered to catapult the corpse of a man who died from a plague into the fortress. As a result, an epidemic of bubonic plague broke out instantly in Kafa, and the surviving part of the Genoese garrison went home.

And in the Russian-Crimean war of 1735-1739, due to outbreaks of the plague, Russian troops were forced to stop the offensive attack in Transnistria, Bessarabia and Perekop and retreat.

Outbreaks of cholera played a huge role in the defeat of the Russian army in the Crimean War of 1853-1856.

Let's return back to the coronavirus pandemic.

If we consider this problem in a comprehensive manner, then it is appropriate to take into account all the medical, economic, social, political components.

The Russian government, as a miserable replica of the communist regime of the Soviet Union, initially did not take seriously the spread of coronavirus and purposefully hides the real situation in the country, however, mass mortality in Italy and Spain shows that if you can hide the real number of infected people, the real mass mortality in the wake of the outbreak cannot be hidden.

At the same time, the threat of mass infection and mortality in various regions of Russia, including the occupied Crimea, is very high.

We are witnessing how the health care system is choking in the developed counties of EU and the USA, but what we can say about Russia?

At the same time, despite the unprecedented quarantine measures taken by the civilized world in the fight against the terrible pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19, Russia is intensely preparing for the “condemned men parade”.

Three times a week near Moscow, up to 15,000 people are simultaneously concentrated on a very limited area. And in many Russian garrisons, preparations are underway for the passage of the “Solemn March on May 9th.”

Putin has many political hopes for the Victory Parade. This winter, he hoped that world leaders would come to Moscow, and that military men of the allies of the World War II would pass along Red Square. Russian media said that “such a format of celebrations can turn upside down the unfavorable political format of the world for Russia."

Both Trump and Macron have already refused a trip to Moscow, most of the invited heads of states will not come, but Putin is trying at all costs to hold a so-called Parade to demonstrate to the whole world the “greatness of the victorious people.” Although in fact, all this is an elementary swagger.

The other day, the Open Media website, quoting a source in the Russian Ministry of Defense, said: “They can hold a parade … without spectators, if the number of the infected of COVID 19 increases dramatically and authorities of Moscow will have to impose additional restrictions.” So, the parade will be held anyway and nobody talks about postponing it.

These days, Ukraine blocked the Russian draft resolution of the UN General Assembly, in which Russia, under the guise of providing assistance to countries with coronavirus, tried to achieve the goal of lifting sanctions.

As a result, a second resolution was adopted, initiated by Ghana, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

The resolution calls on the international community to share information, scientific knowledge and achievements to fight the coronavirus.

Thus, the Kremlin’s manipulative plan has failed.

The coronavirus pandemic, in addition to medical and political issues, creates global economic problems. The coronavirus pandemic has affected almost the entire world economy, which leads to a sharp drop in energy demand.

The main reasons for the fall in oil prices since early March were:
1. The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the transport and industrial sectors in China, Japan, South Korea, Europe, the USA, and the Middle East, which greatly affected the level of oil demand
2. Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could not agree on new restrictions on the level of oil production. Amid unsuccessful negotiations, Saudi Arabia entered the price war and increased production from 9 to 12 million barrels per day. The Saudis began to displace Russian Urals brand oil from the European market, offering to triple the supply of their own grade of Arab Light with big discounts. Other countries in the region followed its example.

As a result, on March 9, the price of Brent crude fell to $ 33 per barrel. March 18, the price of Brent oil fell to $ 25.4 per barrel. March 19, Russian oil Urals fell in price to $ 18.64per barrel. And on March 26, Brent crude was traded at $ 26 per barrel.

And, despite the fact that on April 3, world oil prices showed a positive trend and at the London Stock Exchange, the cost of the June Brent contracts increased to $ 34 per barrel even such a cost is not comfortable for Russia, since the federal budget is calculated at an oil price of $42 a barrel.

According to the Minister of Finance of Russian Anton Siluanov, at current oil prices, Russia's budget in 2020 may lose up to 3 trillion rubles (about $ 37.5 billion) in oil and gas revenues.

According to the forecasts of the International Energy Agency (IEA), due to the spread of coronavirus, a decrease in demand is expected from 90 to 730 thousand barrels per day.

Putin, having unleashed a war against Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC, most likely does not realize whom he has attacked. This is not the Ukrainian army in 2014, but much more serious. The current situation is similar to the history of the Soviet Union in the last years of its existence. And many experts believe that by means of such actions the Soviet Union was destroyed in due time. Perhaps this was not a decisive factor in the collapse of the USSR, “but one of the most important.”

Over the past week, the volume of sales of federal loan bonds (FLB) on the Moscow Exchange has decreased by almost 5 times. Yield of the Federal Loan Bonds is reduced more than in most other countries. The Ministry of Finance called the fall in oil prices to $ 30 per barrel over the course of 3-5 years the average price shock and estimated the lost oil and gas revenues at 5-14% of GDP. And in the main directions of monetary policy, falling oil prices will lead to deterioration in economic growth and an increase in capital outflows. The weakening of the ruble and the growth of exchange rate and inflation expectations in the risk scenario can lead to a short-term strong increase in annual inflation, and a noticeable decrease in external demand and other negative factors can cause a decrease in GDP.

In recent days, millions of people and those who love Putin and those who hate him are interested in whether he has caught a coronavirus infection?

After all, the head physician of the hospital in Kommunarka, Denis Protsenko, who contacted Putin, was diagnosed with coronavirus. Immediately after the report about his illness, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian president was regularly tested for coronavirus and was tested negative.

I think that even if Putin tests positive, then unlike ordinary residents of Tambov, Kazan or Makhachkala, he will receive adequate expensive treatment and he has acquired a personal ventilator long ago.

Another important factor is water, which is necessary, inter alia, for combating coronovirus infection. Recently, the “Head” of the occupied Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, said that the water supply in the three main reservoirs in Simferopol is sufficient for uninterrupted water supply of the city within 3.5 months if there is no precipitation.

Will Russia be able to abandon Crimea with an authoritarian President, but a strongly weakened economy, ongoing sanctions, lack of water supply and a high level of spread of COVID-19 among the population and in the army?

We shall see!
Take care and stay safe!

Eskender Bariiev,
The Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, 
a member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people