Putin’s Crimea adventure proves economic loser

May 13, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 is proving a loser for the Russian economy, costing at least $30 billion annually in lost business, subsidies and a worsening investment climate, a top analyst said Monday.

Sergei Guriev, chief economist for the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told the business news site The Bell that blowback in the wake of the seizure of Crimea includes a number of punishing U.S. and European sanctions, as well as a growing reluctance by international investors to put their money in Russia.

Russia’s economy expanded by 2.3 percent in 2018, the Kremlin announced recently, but Mr. Guriev said GDP growth could have been nearly twice that rate without the headwinds created by Crimea.

“If it’s 2 [percentage points] lost, then [Russia’s losses] are equal to $30 billion a year,” Mr. Guriev told the website.

The Putin government has poured tens of billions of dollars into the Crimea since taking control, including the massive new Kerch Bridge linking the Black Sea peninsula to the rest of Russia and a series of new energy links. But the infusion of Kremlin capital has yet to revive the economy there, analysts say.

The Moscow Times carried an account of the Guriev interview on its website Monday.