The Federal Service on Customers’ Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing Surveillance (Rospotrebnadzor) has already called on Crimean citizens not to purchase meat until the situation has stabilised. “For security reasons, Crimean residents should refrain from buying [short shelf-life] products in shops that are not equipped with a diesel generator,” said head of the interregional directorate of Rospotrebnadzor Natalia Penkovskaya.
According to Sergei Makeev, chairman of local business association ‘Aid for Trade in Crimea’, only one-fifth of supermarkets in the peninsula have diesel generators, while others have to operate under a rolling blackout, which makes it impossible for them to keep short shelf-life products.
“Firstly [after the start of the energy blockade] fuel generators were received by organisations involved in the country’s food security. Shortly after that, however, the generators were prioritised for facilities, such as hospitals, schools and kindergartens. To connect a generator to the store, traders have to spend RUB600,000 (US$10,000),” explained Makeev.
“There is already a large write-off of perishable products, including milk, meat and fish. There is no panic among buyers so far, but it’s just the beginning. We hope the situation will stabilise soon. After all, if there is no electricity, the stores will just stop offering short shelf-life products,” he added.
New blockade under way
The energy blockade in the peninsula is also taking place against the backdrop of a food blockage, as several public organisations ceased delivery of any food products to Crimea at the end of September. Previously, Crimea had been purchasing up to 30-35% of all food from Ukraine, including large batches of pork and poultry, and almost all beef.
According to official information, on 20-21 November, unknown activists in the Kherson Oblast of Ukraine sabotaged power lines that had been supplying Crimea with electricity, in a move described as a “terrorist act” by head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov. This action left almost 1.5 million people in the region without electricity.
Meanwhile, Lenur Islyamov, civil leader of the blockade in Crimea, announced at the beginning of December that the food and energy blockade would soon be joined by a sea blockade, including the Kerch ferry – the main artery supplying Crimea with food products, including meat, primarily from Russia’s southern Krasnodar Krai region.
If these plans succeed, Crimean citizens will soon be faced with a shortage of meat. The population of almost two million consumes 135,000 tonnes (t) of meat annually, while internal production was close to 70,000t in 2013. However, local production is being hit by the energy blockade and a previous stoppage of water supplies via the North Crimea channel, which caused irrigation problems in the peninsula.