Staunton, Aug. 31 – In Soviet times, both when Crimea was part of the RSFSR and when it belonged to the Ukrainian SSR, Kyiv blocked efforts promoted by Moscow officials to develop transportation links between Russia and Crimea and did so with such success in these periods that Russia lacked adequate links with Crimea after it illegally annexed the Ukrainian peninsula.
That is why Putin has been so obsessed with the Russian bridge to Crimea and why that bridge, especially when attacks against it have limited its functioning, highlights the absence of other routes, road, rail and ship that should have been developed earlier but that the Ukrainians blocked.
In an important historical article, Stoletiye commentator Aleksey Chichkin describes the way in which Moscow officials beginning in the 1930s tried to promote the development of these various routes to Crimea and how effectively Ukrainian officials blocked them (stoletie.ru/ekonomika/skolko_dorog_nuzhno_krymu_733.htm).
What is particularly striking in his account is the ways in which the arguments of Ukrainian officials, even during periods when the peninsula was part of the RSFSR, were picked up by some in Moscow and became the basis for decisions there not to develop the infrastructure that the Soviet leadership said it was for.
That Ukraine was successful in blocking Russian efforts when Crimea was part of the Ukrainian SSR is not a surprise, Chichkin says, especially since Soviet leaders from Khrushchev through Brezhnev had such close ties with Ukraine. But that Kyiv was effective even in Stalin’s time is something few have attended to.