Self-Proclaimed Crimean Leader Complains About Ukraine During Syria Visit
16 October, 2018

Grain exports and mutual tourism might sound like an agenda of two prosperous countries that can benefit from each other’s resources. In reality, these were some of the talking points of representatives from Russia-annexed Crimea and Syria during the Crimeans’ visit to Syrian capital Damascus on October 15-16.

Crimea’s self-proclaimed leader Sergey Aksyonov, who managed to snap up a trade deal with Syrian Economy Minister Mohammad Samer al-Khalil, even found time to complain about Ukraine during the visit.

“This year, we had crop failures because of draught for reasons including Ukraine’s cutoff of [water supply through] the North Crimean Canal,” Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported Aksyonov as saying. “But from 2019, the Crimean Republic should be able to export volumes of grain to Syria.”

Other areas the two sides hope to dwell on are Crimean exports of “rails and railway equipment and plastic pipe.” In turn, Tass reports Aksyonov as saying that Crimea is interested in the “phosphate that is mined on the Syrian territory.”

The so-called Crimean leader reportedly said that despite this being his first visit to Syria, he hopes for future cooperation. He added that he’s planning to send Crimean so-called lawmakers to Syria soon in order to “establish working relations and create a working group.”

“We’ve also invited a delegation of Syrian MPs to the fifth Yalta International Economic Forum,” Aksyonov told Tass.  

During the Crimean delegation’s visit to the war-torn country, Aksyonov also met up with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photographs from the meeting were posted on Aksyonov’s Facebook page without mentioning what the conversation was about.

In one of the photographs, it looks like Assad was gifted with a holdable replica of the “polite people monument” located in Simferopol, near the so-called Crimean parliament. The phrase “polite people” was famously used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to describe Russian soldiers who facilitated the annexation of the peninsula.

/By Maria Romanenko