Refat Chubarov, a Crimean Tatar leader who was banned from the peninsula by Russia after its March 2014 annexation, said no trucks had been allowed through border crossings after barricades went up on Sunday.
“Yesterday the movement of freight vehicles on all roads leading to the peninsula was halted,” Mr. Chubarov was quoted as saying by the Unian news agency of Ukraine.
Also on Monday, Germany strongly warned against elections planned by Moscow-backed separatists in the breakaway region of southeastern Ukraine and urged all parties in the Ukrainian conflict to fulfill the progress promised at a Sept. 12 meeting of the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine.
“I strongly urge Kiev and Moscow not, right now, to once again jeopardize the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said in a statement.
“The silence of the guns is still not really secured, and the conflict can escalate again militarily.”
A shaky truce has held since Sept. 1, and another attempt to solidify it with an agreement on weapons withdrawal was due to take place on Tuesday. Sawsan Chebli, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, said Berlin had also seen “with great concern” that the separatists were pushing ahead with plans for elections.
She said the elections would be a “serious danger” to the Minsk accord that was reached by leaders of the four countries in February but never fully implemented.
“We expect Russia to use its influence over the separatists to ensure these elections do not take place,” Ms. Chebli said at a regular government news conference.
Crimea is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land with just one main highway, so severing that link would effectively halt all traffic.
More than 230 vehicles had been stopped, Mr. Chubarov said.
In the past, there was speculation that Russia might push its forces deeper into Ukraine, past the southern port of Mariupol, in order to secure a land route to Crimea from Russia.
But such a move would undoubtedly lead to far more Western sanctions.
The immediate effect of the Tatar blockade was not clear.
Before the annexation, most people and goods going to Crimea flowed through Ukraine, but train traffic has been stopped for some time and extensive customs searches have hindered the transport of goods.
Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister of Crimea appointed by Russia, said Monday that the blockade would have little effect, as only about 5 percent of the goods consumed in Crimea came through Ukraine.
“The trade blockade of Crimea begun by Ukrainian activists with the support of a number of Kiev politicians will not affect food supplies in the region,” he told the Russian state-run Rossiya 24 satellite television channel.
“Crimea will not notice this.”
Most Russian goods are transported by large ferries across the Sea of Azov and through the Kerch Strait, but bad weather can halt service despite significant improvements during the last year.
Russian television focused much of its attention on the fact that roadblocks were being manned with the help of members of Right Sector, a Ukrainian nationalist organization banned in Russia, where the news media frequently portray it as neo-fascist.
The Tatars, who were deported from Crimea into exile in Central Asia during World War II, have complained about continued discrimination by the new Russian rulers.
The main independent Tatar television station was shut down this year, and although Tatar is one of the official languages in the Constitution, it is seldom used.
About 300,000 of the peninsula’s two million people are Tatar.
Mr. Chubarov is chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, an assembly that has been suspended, and a member of the Ukrainian president’s faction in the country’s Parliament.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, another Crimean Tatar leader, who spent 15 years as a Soviet political prisoner and is now also banned from the peninsula, told the German news website Deutsche Welle that the activists were prepared to block the road for months.
The goal is “for the occupiers to leave our territory,” he said, adding that they would also insist that Kiev cut electricity to Crimea.
Source: The New York Times