“Relying on Radicals”: Why Kiev Demands to Introduce Criminal Liability for the Purchase of Russian Goods

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Aleksandr Turchynov threatened to impose criminal liability on the management of those enterprises that buy their production in Russia. The official considers that they thus support the “aggressor country”. However, as the official statistics of Ukraine testifies, Moscow remains the main trade partner of Kiev, and Russian export significantly prevails over Ukrainian export. Experts believe that Turchynov’s proposal won’t be realised, because it will collapse the national economy. RT found out what stands behind the initiative of the head of the NSDC of Ukraine.

The head of the NSDC of Ukraine Aleksandr Turchynov stated that the heads of Ukrainian enterprises who carry out purchases in Russia must bear not only moral, but also criminal liability. The words of the politician were sounded on the air of the “112 Ukraine” TV channel.

“Simply a shame”

According to Turchynov, the acquisition of Russian goods is actually State treason.

“Every responsible head must be held accountable for treason in front of their country… It seems to me that there must be not only moral, but also criminal liability for financially supporting the country aggressor, for those who buy those things in Russia that can be made in Ukraine,” said Turchynov.

News about the Ukrainian company “Ukrzaliznytsya” purchasing a batch of “Honourable railroad workers” prize badges became the reason for such a sharp statement.

“When we order some trinkets in Russia, it’s simply a shame!” stressed the secretary of the NSDC.

Earlier, information about the order of badges in Russia was published on the website of public purchases “ProZorro”. However, after the angry speech of Turchynov, the acting head of the boardroom of “Ukrzaliznytsa” Evgeny Kravtsov gave the command to stop the procedure of acquiring “Honourable railroad workers” from the administrative management of “JSC Russian Railways”. The value of the order totalled 181,900 rubles.

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The difficult political relations between Moscow and Kiev earlier complicated bilateral economic cooperation. Thus, after the accession of the Crimea to Russia, Ukroboronprom declared the termination of deliveries of its production to Russian defense enterprises. After this Moscow started to produce Russian analogs of those products that were bought in Ukraine.

“Serious consequences”

However, according to official data, the total amount of deliveries of Russian goods to the neighboring State so far only grows. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the import of goods from Russia in January-April of this year increased by 31% in comparison with the figures for the same period of last year and reached $2.6 billion. At the same time, the proportion of Ukrainian goods exported to Russia decreased by 6.4% — to $1.18 billion.

According to statistical data, the negative trade balance between Ukraine and Russia totalled $1.377 billion. At the same time, in 2017 total commodity turnover between the two countries grew by 28.6%. The importation of Russian goods to Ukraine increased by 40%, and the deliveries of Ukrainian products to Russia increased by 10%. For comparison, from January to April Germany sold goods to Kiev for $1.7 billion, and to China — for $2 billion.

According to the official information of the Ukrainian authorities, the Russian Federation delivers to Ukraine mainly mineral fuel, oil and oil products, fertilisers, nuclear reactors and turbines, plastics, polymeric materials, ferrous metals, products of inorganic chemistry, and some consumer goods. In turn, the Ukrainian side also sells to Russia ferrous metals and products from them, elements of nuclear reactors and engines, paper, and cardboard.

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The deputy director of the CIS institute Vladimir Evseyev believes that Turchynov’s proposal to introduce criminal liability for delivering products from the Russian Federation won’t be realised, otherwise this initiative will cause “irreparable damage to the economy of Ukraine”.

“In recent years Turchynov as a politician leaned and continues to lean on radical nationalist circles. It is pleasant for them to hear any mad proposals connected to measures against Russia. For example, that between our countries it is necessary to introduce visas, or that the bridge built recently to Crimea should be urgently destroyed. But if to try to implement all of this, there will be a social explosion in Ukraine. Imagine what will happened if visas are introduced, and the Ukrainian citizens who currently work in the Russian Federation will cease to transfer money back home? Even more serious consequences await Ukraine if it refuses to cooperate with its largest trade partner, i.e., with Russia,” stated the expert.

He also reminded that some Ukrainian politicians, including the President Petro Poroshenko, have property on Russian territory, however for some reason the political elite of Ukraine doesn’t consider this to be unpatriotic.

“They vote with their wallets”

The Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov in turn notes that theoretically the Ukrainian authorities can reduce commodity turnover with Russia to zero, despite all the problems that this step would create for the local population.

“Turchynov and other politicians proceed not from economic, but from political reasons. They can not only impose criminal liability for ordering Russian products, but also demonstratively trial those who ordered or acquired goods from the Russian Federation,” said Denisov.

According to him, such a step will sharply lower the standard of living for ordinary Ukrainians, and some of them will literally find themselves on the verge of survival.

“Our goods are bought in Ukraine not because we are loved there. It is simply because production from the Russian Federation is the best in terms of ‘price-quality’ ratio, so that’s why everyone votes with their wallet. If this possibility is taken away from them, then it will cause a surge in smuggling, and also a new wave of emigration from the Ukrainian republic,” stressed Denisov.

If the leadership of Ukraine nevertheless introduces a ban on Russian goods, as Vadim Evseyev believes, it actually won’t be observed.

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“If to remember recent events in our relationship, the intension to do such things already existed. Ukrainian radicals tried to block the export of goods from Crimea. However, this didn’t lead to practical changes in the economic relations between Moscow and Kiev. There are types of production that Ukraine in principle itself can’t provide for itself. For example, electricity is formally produced on the territory of the country, so from the point of view of Turchynov it shouldn’t be bought from us. But, after all, what Ukrainians generate at their power plants isn’t enough to meet the needs of the country. The same thing also concerns gas,” noted Evseyev in conversation with RT.

According to him, if an embargo is placed on Russian goods, they will be delivered via third countries instead.

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