News / Europe

Annexed by Russia, Crimea Could See Growing Financial, Travel Woes

A sign displaying currency rates is seen in Simferopol, Crimea  March 22, 2014.
A sign displaying currency rates is seen in Simferopol, Crimea March 22, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine could see the peninsula's economy suffer and the region isolated from the international community.

The crisis in Ukraine already had put a drain on many banks, making the process of withdrawing cash at automatic teller machines (ATMs) hit and miss.

Russia's takeover of Crimea made transfers of currency from banks, most of them located in mainland Ukraine, to the southern peninsula an even bigger challenge.

ATMs are running dry across Crimea, as cash dries up and banks are forced to put strict limits on withdrawals, leading to long lines of unhappy customers.

Western sanctions cut off Visa and MasterCard credit services to at least two Russian banks.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says a transitional period will be in effect until January 1, 2015, to organize Crimea's integration into its economic, financial, banking, legal and government systems.

Rumors are spreading in Crimea that the changeover from Ukraine to Russia's banking system could cut off credit cards altogether, at least for some days.

At least one hotel in Sevastopol, the base of Russia's Black Sea navy fleet, warned guests it might not be able to accept credit cards from Monday.

Crimea's economy also could take a big hit from lost tourism.

Western tourists are likely to avoid the Black Sea resort area now that it is associated with Russian military aggression.

Images of Russian troops and balaclava-clad armed militias knocking down gates at Ukrainian bases and threatening journalists were circulated widely in Western media, along with those of rowdy pro-Russia rallies with overt anti-Western messages.

Complications abound

Even if Western tourists wanted to visit, all fights to and from Crimea were suspended following Moscow's moves to annex the territory, except connections through Moscow.

Crimea's tour operators are beginning to realize their business could suffer, although it may be mitigated to some extent by increased Russian tourism.

Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's signing documents last week for what Moscow says is a legal annexation, Crimea's transition from Ukraine to Russia passport controls has not been completed.

Airport staff in Simferopol say they are still operating under visa rules used as an autonomous region under Ukraine and do not know when they will switch to Russia's likely tighter controls.

Russian visa restrictions may be imposed where there were none before, specifically on Western journalists who are able to operate with tourist visas in Ukraine.

More ominously, there are conflicting reports on what happens to Ukrainian citizens in Crimea who do not want to become Russian nationals.

A controversial referendum on March 16, pushed by Crimea's Moscow-backed leaders, claimed 97 percent of voters wanted to become part of Russia. But some estimates say as many as 20 percent may want to keep their Ukrainian passports.

Russia already is handing out its passports and is giving Crimeans one month to decide if they want to retain their Ukrainian citizenship.

Crimea's leaders say those who choose to remain citizens of Ukraine would be cut off from Russia's social benefits, but they did not make clear how that would affect their legal status and other rights.  The ambiguity raises concerns of a worst case scenario where Ukrainians living in Crimea could be forced to get visas to stay in their homes.

Ukraine retaliated against Russia's grab on Crimea by making dual citizenship illegal and is considering instituting visa requirements for Russian visitors where currently there are none. 

If Moscow tries to seize more of Ukraine's territory in the east, where pro-Russia groups are demanding their own referendums to join Russia, and Russian troops are massed near the border, relations would deteriorate further and Kyiv could cut off land routes to the peninsula. 

Ukraine also supplies the vast majority of Crimea's water and electricity, which it may try to use as leverage to squeeze Moscow's new prize.

Simferopol on Sunday night experienced on and off electricity blackouts.  Crimea's pro-Russia Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov tweeted there also were partial electricity failures in Yalta, Kerch and Feodosia. He urged people to "find out the reasons" behind the outages.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid