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克里米亚博弈:普京出昏招,接手无底洞

Cyrus Sanati 2014年03月21日

长期来看,没有克里米亚对乌克兰反而是好事。克里米亚基本上是块不毛之地。未来,俄罗斯可能每年都要投入几亿美元,才能帮助克里米亚解决经济困难,而帮助恢复当地的基础设施和服务至少还需要几百亿美元。可以说,乌克兰实际上甩掉了一个巨大的财政包袱。

    没有克里米亚对乌克兰反而是好事。事实上,如果乌克兰想利用俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔•普京,除了这个落后的半岛外,它还应该把东部和南部的更多省份都送给俄罗斯。

    克里米亚脱离乌克兰的方式令人不快,这可以理解。但从长期来看,没有克里米亚对乌克兰而言反而可能是好事。

    周二,普京签署文件正式接收了乌克兰的克里米亚半岛,结果股市立刻上扬。与此同时,在乌克兰首都基辅,很少有抗议这种非法窃取领土行为的大规模示威。当然,政客们在表达他们的愤怒,宣扬俄罗斯即将采取进一步的侵略行动,但在大街上感觉不到人们的愤怒,至少在最近几周并没有达到令民众起义的程度。与此同时,乌克兰军队大部分都驻扎在营地,计划平静地撤离克里米亚。

    俄罗斯攫取克里米亚的行为正常情况下将导致乌克兰或这个地区的其他竞争力量与俄罗斯的军事机器爆发大规模冲突,因为他们希望在失控之前遏制俄罗斯的对外扩张。尤其是,克里米亚地区多年来一直是国际争论的焦点,其中大多数都以流血冲突开始和结束。

    但市场却正确地认识到,围绕这个地区发动战争是上一个千年的做法。没有任何一个国家,即使是美国,愿意派军队维护乌克兰的领土主权。事实上,美国及其盟友甚至不愿意对俄罗斯实行经济制裁。毕竟,克里米亚并没有丰富的资源,甚至连富裕都算不上。这里有一座由俄罗斯控制的海军基地,还有一些沙滩。仅此而已。

    目前大多数评论的焦点都集中在从政治和社会角度分析分裂的乌克兰对基辅意味着什么,不过也有从经济角度切入的分析。简而言之,乌克兰确实需要“瘦身”。这个臃肿国家的人口是俄罗斯人口的三分之一,而国民生产总值却仅有俄罗斯国民生产总值的很小一部分。这种状况在很大程度上是由于乌克兰缺少外国投资,也没有丰富的自然资源。乌克兰农业发达,但食品很便宜,出口小麦的收益与出口石油或天然气根本不能相提并论。

    克里米亚更是经济上失败的典型。2013年,这个地区的税收和其他政府收入约19亿格里夫纳(约合2亿美元);同时,从中央政府得到的拨款为57亿格拉夫纳(约合6亿美元)。它意味着乌克兰政府净损失了38亿格拉夫纳(约合4亿美元),为了解决克里米亚的赤字问题,乌克兰政府不得不将中部较发达地区的资金进行重新分配。在资源方面,克里米亚也并不突出。正如薇薇安•沃特上周在《财富》杂志(Fortune)所写的那样,克里米亚几乎算是一块不毛之地。不像乌克兰物产丰富的农业地区,这里既没有茂密的森林,也没有黑土地。这个地区的收入大部分都来自夏季的沙滩游客——其中大多数游客来自乌克兰本土,约占70%。

    如今,失去了乌克兰游客,这个夏天的克里米亚将遭遇一场经济灾难。在可预见的未来,俄罗斯可能每年至少要拨款五亿美元,才能帮助克里米亚解决经济困难。这还不包括俄罗斯为帮助恢复基础设施和服务承诺投入的50亿到60亿美元。

    Ukraine is better off without Crimea. Indeed, if Ukraine really wants to stick it to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it should hand over a few more of its southern and eastern provinces to Moscow, in addition to the backwater peninsula.

    While the way in which the Crimea was ripped away from Ukraine was understandably traumatic, the country will be far better off without it in the long run.

    The markets rallied Tuesday as Putin signed documents formally annexing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Kiev, Ukraine's capital, there were little, if any, major demonstrations protesting the illegal territorial seizure. Sure, politicians voiced outrage and spoke of further Russian incursions on the horizon, but there was no real anger in the streets, at least not to the extent that led to the popular uprising in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Ukraine's military has largely stayed in their barracks and is set to peacefully withdraw to the mainland.

    A territorial grab like the one Russia just pulled in Crimea would have normally led to a major conflict with the Russian military machine -- if not with Ukraine, then with some competing power in the region, as they would want to cap Russian expansionism before it got out of hand. Crimea, in particular, has been the focus of many international squabbles over the years, most of which began and ended with some sort of bloody conflict.

    But the markets have rightly understood that fighting over land is so last millennium. No one, not even the United States, is willing to send troops to defend Ukraine's territorial sovereignty. Indeed, the U.S. and its allies haven't even been willing to impose economic sanctions on Russia. After all, it's not like Crimea is resource rich -- or even rich at all. It has a naval base, controlled by Russia, and some beaches. That's pretty much it.

    Much of the commentary so far has focused on the political and social aspects of what a divided Ukraine would mean for Kiev, but there is also an economic angle as well. In short, Ukraine really needs to downsize. The bloated country has a third of the population of its Russian overlords but only a fraction of its GDP. Much of that is due to the fact that Ukraine lacks foreign investment and abundant natural resources. The country is an agrarian paradise, but food is cheap and the benefits that come from exporting wheat isn't the same as it is with oil or natural gas.

    Crimea, in particular, is an economic loser. The territory was on course to transfer around 1.9 billion Hryvnia ($200 million) in taxes and other government revenue in 2013 and receive around 5.7 billion Hryvnia ($600 million) from the central government. That equates to a net loss of 3.8 billion Hryvnia ($400 million) for Kiev, forcing the government to redistribute funds from its more productive regions in the center of the country to keep Crimea in the black. As for resources, well, Crimea really doesn't have any. As Vivienne Walt wrote in Fortune last week, Crimea is mostly an arid place with none of the lush forests or black soil that characterize the rest of Ukraine's abundant agricultural land. It makes most of its cash from beachgoers in the summertime -- with the vast majority of tourists, some 70%, coming from Ukraine.

    Now, the loss of all those Ukrainian tourists will be an economic disaster for Crimea this summer. As such, Russia will probably need to transfer at least half a billion dollars per year for the foreseeable future to keep the province afloat. That's in addition to the $5 billion to $6 billion Moscow says it will pump into the region to bring its infrastructure and services up to snuff.

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