Crimea | An autonomous republic seized from Ukraine by Russia under the direction of Vladimir Putin in 2014. The latter sees the reunification of Crimea with Russia as both just and permanent, Catherine the Great of Russia having captured the peninsula in 1790. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Crimea became part of newly-independent Ukraine. Russia’s seizure of Crimea ruptured its relations with Ukraine and the West, both of which wants Ukraine to be given its territory back.
Capital city | Simferopol, the second largest city on the peninsula.
Demographics | Ethnic Ukrainians comprise a shrinking minority.
Tartars | In May 1944, Crimea’s 200,000 Tatars were bundled into cattle cars and shipped to Uzbekistan. Stalin claimed the Tatars had collaborated with the Germans. 8,000 in total [died] during the journey. Crimean Tatars who refuse to accept Russian annexation [since 2014] see it as a continuation of Stalinism. The Mejlis, their representative body, has been outlawed. Source: ‘1944 all over again’ The Economist May 28th 2016, p.22.
Crimea’s wine industry | Russia coveted Crimea’s strategically located ports, sandy beaches and wine. During the Soviet era, central planners used the region to mass-produce wine, often of dubious quality, for the whole Union. After the annexation, among the first assets that the new Russian authorities seized and nationalised were two tsarist-era wineries, Noviy Svet and Massandra. The Russian government has showered its new alcoholic acquisitions with subsidies.
Wine industry post annexation | The challenges of post-annexation life have been hard for many producers.The Russian market is much larger than the Ukrainian one, but Russian drinking revolves around spirits and beer. Credit can be hard to come. The transition to de facto Russian rule has made acquiring and holding property tricky; small producers have struggled to adjust to Russian regulations. Western sanctions mean that supplies often have to be acquired through roundabout means, adding 15-20% to costs which hurts potential exports, and imports. After the annexation, two Russian factories became the main sources of glassware (bottles) for Crimean wineries. Recently, one cut off its contracts with Crimea; local winemakers suspect that a new director, loyal to Western shareholders, discovered that the company had been supplying Crimea. Source: The Economist 18th May 2019.
‘Crimea is still in limbo five years after Russia seized it’, The Economist, article published in the print edition 8th June 2019.
‘Battling the Bottlenecks’, The Economist 18th May 2019, p23.