Will Ukraine abandon railway traffic with Russia?
The Ukrainian authorities are preparing to cut off railway passenger traffic with Russia in early July, a source close to Kiev officials said.
"Ukraine is preparing to halt rail passenger traffic with Russia starting around July 1," the Kommersant newspaper cited the source as saying.
The reason for this is reportedly Russia’s persisting rail links with the restive Donetsk region in Ukraine’s southeast where a military operation is underway to defeat separatist militias, the source added.
Ukrainian Railways, a state rail authority, told the newspaper no decision had been reached, while Russia’s train services giant Russian Railways said it had not received any notification from Ukraine.
The deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University, Andrei Suzdaltsev, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that first of all, the consequences of such a step will affect the citizens of Ukraine. "There are 2-3 million Ukrainian citizens on the territory of Russia, but in fact there are more of them - about 5, given the fact that they not only work here, but also to bring their families here. Of course, railway traffic between Russia and Ukraine provides needs of citizens of Ukraine: there are very few Russians who visit it," the expert assured.
However, there is also an important political aspect in this issue: according to the logic of the Ukrainian government, the interests of their citizens play the least important role for it, he stressed. "The visa-free system suggested that Ukrainians most 'concerned' with earnings will leave the country and will remove the problem from Ukraine's leadership. There was an option that the cessation of the railway traffic will provide a gradual return of Ukrainian workers to the territory of Ukraine and their further departure to the West. But the displacement of Ukrainian citizens from the territory of Ukraine by the hands of Ukraine will be served as Russian pressure on Ukraine, and will be presented to the West as an argument to request assistance," the deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University said.
As for the issue of how realistic this decision is, the expert noted that the Ukrainian format allows absolutely everything. "No one could imagine that once we may break off our air connection, however - they are broken," Andrei Suzdaltsev concluded.
The deputy director of the Institute of the CIS, Vladimir Zharikhin, agrees with Suzdaltsev: "This action looks like anti-Russian, but in fact it is primarily directed against Ukrainian citizens. Only few Russian citizens enter Ukraine on trains. The second moment - it will create another crisis in Transnistria. Because Transdniestrians travel mainly to Russia and from Russia through Ukraine on Ukrainian trains, so the closure of the traffic will create very serious problems for them. Taking advantage of the stagnation in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the Kiev authorities are strengthening their positions, isolating the dissatisfied part of the population from contacts with Russiaю And by the way, more mines are being laid under the long-suffering Minsk agreements because they create a reality within Ukraine, in which Donetsk and Lugansk will not agree to live, even if all the conditions are implemented," the expert said.
According to the political scientist, the implementation of the decision is absolutely real.