Staunton, June 1 – Anyone who has visited an island, be it Prince Edward Island in Canada or Staten Island in New York, before and after a bridge linked its residents to the others so that they could go and come at will rather than remain dependent on ferries knows how much a new bridge can change for better and worse the situation of the islanders and the others.
Earlier this week, Vzglyad journalist Yury Vasiliyev considered how the bridge is changing the lives of people living in the Kuban (vz.ru/society/2018/5/29/925146.html). Today, he offers a discussion of how the Kerch Bridge is already changing the lives of people in Russian-occupied Crimea (vz.ru/society/2018/6/1/925636.html).
Many in Crimea have never travelled to Russia proper or have done so only occasionally because of the difficulties and expense of the ferries. Now, they can go more regularly not only to “see for themselves,” as many put it, Vasilyev says; but in order to visit shopping malls – Crimea doesn’t yet have one – and to purchase some goods at significantly lower prices.
At present, there is real novelty in making a visit via the bridge, he continues, and there is a significant price different for many goods between Crimea and the Kuban, although that may end later this year when heavy trucks are allowed on the bridge and can bring goods to the Ukrainian peninsula.
If prices decline in Crimea at that time, the number of Crimeans who will cross the bridge will likely decline; but the number who visit Russia via the bridge will likely still remain higher than was the case before the bridge was opened this past month. At the very least, residents tell Vasilyev, they will have something to compare.
That could work for Moscow – but if prices aren’t equalized and equalized rapidly, it could work very much against the Russian side.