The de-occupation of Crimea should take place very quickly, so that Russians can cause less damage. Andriy Klymenko, gave an interview to Fakty on the liberation of Crimea.
"Note that I do not belong to the unbridled optimists who believe that it will happen almost tomorrow."
...Before the russian Federation leaves Crimea, everything will be mined, set on fire, poisoned, destroyed, and the first to enter the territory of Crimea, apart from the military, will be representatives of the National Guard, the police, the Security Service of Ukraine (to conduct military and counterintelligence exercises), the State Emergency Service, sanitary and epidemiological specialists, etc. Because we will have to clear everything of mines, put out fires, restore water and power supply and the entire engineering infrastructure. There will be a huge amount of work for the SES - for years!
...Ideally, it would be desirable to have a NATO naval unit deployed in Crimea. We have talked about this and, I hope, we will soon discuss it at the next forum of the Crimean Security Platform.
There will be no security in the Black Sea if Crimea remains occupied. And when we de-occupy it, there will still be no security as long as Ukraine and its allies do not use this peninsula to squeeze Russia into the North Caucasus (Novorossiysk, Tuapse), as it was during World War II.
Therefore, our Crimea will have the function of a very powerful Ukrainian military outpost.
You would agree that it would be very nice if the situation inside Russia changed. For the sanctions to finally crush its economy, the "hinterland people" to suddenly see the light and go to the Kremlin with pitchforks to overthrow the government, and the so-called Russian elites to stage a palace coup and start fighting among themselves for a place in the sun. Then the Kremlin team would definitely not be up to seizing foreign territories, terrorizing and blackmailing the world.
However, these hopes are vain, says Andriy Klymenko, editor-in-chief of BlackSeaNews.net. He is the author of many developments on the development strategies of Crimea (before the occupation he lived in Yalta), and worked as an independent private consultant on these issues. For his resistance to the occupiers, the FSB included him in the list of "terrorists and extremists of the Russian Federation".
- Andriy, military experts believe that the de-occupation of Ukrainian territories will begin with the liberation of Crimea. What is happening now on the seized peninsula? What is the mood there? The GUR says that representatives of the "authorities" and the Russian military are already packing their bags, taking their families and property away. Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Akhtem Chiygoz recently commented: "They have no faith that Crimea will remain in the Russian harbor." With Russians and collaborators, everything is clear - they are completely afraid. And what do Crimeans say? Are they afraid of Ukraine's return?
- First of all, let me say that, since this is an interview for the fakty.ua website, the word "facts" is important to me. We have almost no journalism of facts and analytics of facts now. There is journalism of emotions, views and opinions. And unfortunately, analytics is the same.
Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned. But I believe that journalism (and even more so, analytics) should be based on facts and their analysis. However, when it comes to the situation in the occupied territories, including Crimea, and the situation in Russia, facts are very difficult to find. This is a big job. We are trying to do it. Otherwise, if we base our decisions on our expectations, emotions, and desires, we can make quite tragic mistakes. I want to emphasize this. Therefore, we will try to rely on facts even though there is less and less truthful information every day.
First, since February 24, 2022, Crimea has acquired a new and most important function - it has become a military foothold for the land invasion of Russian troops in Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhzhia regions, and for the naval invasion of the Azov Sea coast, and for missile attacks on almost all regions of Ukraine with Kalibr cruise missiles and missiles from coastal missile systems, and for air strikes (there is a fairly large air force there) on various regions, primarily Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, and for blocking Ukrainian shipping in the Black and Azov Seas. In such cases, economists say: "A new industry of specialization has emerged."
Secondly, the Crimean peninsula has become the main rear logistics hub (there are well-developed railways there) for the supply of Russian troops in the newly occupied territories of Ukraine.
Thirdly, Crimea became a huge military hospital and a base for the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded Russian soldiers. A lot of wounded and crippled people appeared on the streets and embankments. Currently, there are a lot of them in local sanatoriums. Moreover, in the Western Crimea (Yevpatoriya, Saki) they specialize in complex spinal and limb injuries.
The arrival of additional tens of thousands of people means a load on the relevant sectors of the economy (transportation, sanatoriums, services).
Fourthly, Crimea has become the main logistics hub for exporting not only Crimean grain, but also grain seized in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to world markets, primarily to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. We (Andriy Klymenko has been heading the monitoring group of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies on the situation in Crimea, militarization and security risks in the Black Sea region, freedom of navigation and international anti-Russian sanctions since 2017 - Author) were dealing with this topic until February 24 last year, and now our colleagues from the Myrotvorets Center (Kateryna Jaresko) continue to deal with it. And we thank them for that.
We are talking about very large volumes of grain. It is difficult to count them. But what is possible is impressive: in 2022 and a few months of 2023, about two million tons of Ukrainian grain were exported through the Crimean ports, primarily through Sevastopol.
- Do the Kremlin's puppets continue to demonstrate faith in Russia's victory?
- In the first months of the great war, they were euphoric. They began to share their experience with the gauleiters of the newly occupied territories on how to integrate into the Russian administrative, economic, and social system. But this did not last long, because interesting processes began.
On April 14 last year, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva missile cruiser, was sunk by a missile attack.
On June 17, the rescue tugboat Spasatel Vasily Bekh, which was transporting ammunition, weapons, and military personnel to Zmeinyi Island, sank after a missile attack.
On June 20, another very important event took place: the Ukrainian military used missile strikes to disable the offshore platforms of Chornomornaftogaz, which were producing gas condensate on the seized Ukrainian shelf of the northwestern part of the Black Sea. At first, two and then about one and a half billion cubic meters of gas per year were pumped from there. This volume was enough to supply the peninsula with gas. Now there is no gas. By the way, these platforms are still burning.
On June 30, Zmeinyi Island was de-occupied, making it possible to unblock Ukrainian ports in Odesa region. This grain corridor is not a "goodwill gesture" as the Kremlin claims. It became possible because Ukrainian military personnel are stationed on the island, which the grain ships pass by.
On August 9, the Saki airbase was struck, destroying up to a dozen Russian aircraft.
On August 16, a huge ammunition depot exploded in the Dzhankoy district. Since then, the "cotton" has been exploding almost every month somewhere.
On October 8, the Kerch Bridge was blown up.
And on October 29, the first drone attack on the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol took place. As a result, four warships were severely damaged.
It is clear that all these processes, especially the first attacks on air bases in August, caused a real panic. First of all, among Russian tourists and Russian citizens who moved to the peninsula to live.
- How many Russians have arrived during the occupation?
- At the beginning of 2014, 2.4 million people lived in Crimea, including Sevastopol. Now there are about two million "old" Crimeans, so to speak, plus about 1.2 million Russians from different regions of the Russian Federation (these are data for 2021; our calculations showed exactly these figures, we have studied these processes in detail), and this is now about 30% of the population of Crimea, which has grown to 3.1 million. That is, it has changed dramatically.
A significant part of it is the military and their families, plus a huge number of employees of Russian law enforcement agencies (also with their families) - the FSB, the Investigative Committee, the prosecutor's office, the courts, as well as senior staff in ministries, enterprises, etc., because the occupiers replaced local people with their own specialists.
Of course, as a result, there was a certain boom in housing construction, especially in Simferopol and Sevastopol. Because according to Russian law, military and security officials have a favorable mortgage - 7-8% per annum. These are very attractive conditions. Entire neighborhoods have been built there for these "new Crimeans".
That's why panic arose among them in the first place. It was bound to happen. We remember that viral video...
- ...of a Russian woman crying: "I don't want to leave Alushta at all. It's so cool here. It's like living in your own home. Everything is so sincere, so homely."
- Nowadays, many people sell their homes at any price and return to their former places of residence. That's why housing construction has decreased significantly.
Let's move on. In addition to becoming a frontline region after February 24, Crimea has become a limited military action area since last summer. Of course, this has put an end to the sectors of the Crimean economy that were considered to be the main and very promising under the occupation. These included tourism and the defense industry - there were huge projects to build warships at the shipbuilding facilities in Feodosia and Kerch.
All in all, all this created a fundamentally new atmosphere of expectation of a Ukrainian offensive in and around the occupied peninsula. Everyone has seen the satellite photos that show various defense structures being built there. Both on the beaches in the western part of Crimea and in the north - in Armyansk, Krasnoperekopsk and Dzhankoy districts.
That is, the occupiers understand that if Ukraine has already shown that it has the ability to fire missiles over long distances, to strike the bridge across the Kerch Strait, it can happen again.
Regarding the Southern coast of Crimea and the resorts, we see now an interesting thing. Whereas previously the Black Sea Fleet ships used to launch missiles at Ukrainian territory from Sevastopol, move towards Odesa and fire from there (this is an area near the western coast of the peninsula), now they are moving to positions south of Gurzuf and Sudak, meaning they fire from the southern coast of Crimea, hoping that Ukrainian missiles will not reach there. At the same time, the Crimean "authorities" are really pretending that "everything is fine, don't worry, Russia will protect us."
Of course, there will be no tourist season this year at all. They are crying a lot there: "How can it be?" According to our estimates, before the occupation, about 6-7% of the population worked directly in year-round health resorts, and 25-30% were connected to the holiday season in general. This includes trade, transportation, and services. This is going to be a serious problem now.
What else has changed in the Crimean economy? They have transferred almost all the defense industry enterprises, and there have always been many of them, to three-shift work, i.e. 24/7. They repair damaged equipment and machinery, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, guns, helicopters, airplanes, and vehicles. There is enough work to go around, so they recruit people.
- Russian propagandists are very fond of telling us that it was only with the arrival of Russia that the peninsula flourished. But these bastards stole and took away many rarities, paintings, and museum exhibits.
- Crimea has acquired another function: all the artistic values from the museums of the Kherson region have been taken to the museums of Simferopol and Sevastopol.
- From Donetsk region as well.
- Yes. These facts have been recorded. We know that the prosecutor's offices in Crimea and Sevastopol are conducting relevant criminal proceedings.
Of course, the Russian Federation, under the pretext of holding various exhibitions, has long ago exported a significant part of cultural property (such as a collection of Scythian gold, a collection of paintings by Aivazovsky and other very famous artists), including to the Hermitage and the Tretyakov Gallery. This is just plundering the Ukrainian cultural heritage. But we did not expect anything else from these barbarians.
- And what they have done to the natural environment is beyond imagination.
- We can predict that after de-occupation we will have huge problems there. We have been doing this research all these years. Of course, the blocking of the Northern Crimean Canal forced them to start unconserving artesian springs that had been reserved since the 1950s and 1960s to provide water supply. This caused the water table to rise as they withdrew water from these aquifers. Therefore, the first thing Russia did after February 24 was to unblock the supply of Dnipro water to the occupied Crimea.
Recently, Crimean experts who left after the occupation met. All of them have the same opinion: Russians will leave Crimea like barbarians.
There are many examples of this. After the Soviet Black Sea Fleet was divided in the first half of the 1990s, everything that could be removed was removed at all the facilities that were transferred to Ukraine under intergovernmental agreements, from window frames to toilets and water taps. And what could not be removed was brought to such a state that it could not be used with a crowbar and sledgehammer. Similarly, warships were used in the same way. Everything that could be damaged was damaged.
Therefore, there is, unfortunately, a negative prospect that in the process of de-occupation of Crimea, they will destroy everything they can. They can set fire to the Crimean forests, disable the water supply system, destroy the number of birds and animals raised on farms, and take away artifacts.
Therefore, when solving the problems of de-occupation of Crimea, we must take this into account. It should be done very quickly so that the Russians do less damage.
- Tamila Tasheva, the president's permanent representative in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, said that 50,000 officials would be needed to restore power in Crimea. Where can we get this number? How do you envision this future process?
- Many people often have the impression that everyone there is pro-Russian and collaborators. I will give you the following figures. Two years before the occupation of Crimea, we participated in a very serious sociological study conducted by the Razumkov Center. Among other things, the goal was to determine the separatist potential. It turned out that it then amounted to about 21-23% of the adult population. The vast majority were people over 60 years old and even without a complete secondary education. They are gone now.
By the way, according to our estimates, only up to 30% participated in the so-called "referendum". This is in line with previous estimates of the number of people inclined to separatism. In general, the survey showed that two-thirds of the Crimean population had a normal attitude toward Ukraine and considered themselves citizens of Ukraine.
It should also be noted that 2011-2013 were good years for the Crimean economy. As a result of the tourism development programs implemented, Crimea was the absolute leader in Ukraine's tourism industry. As for cruise tourism, for example, there were record numbers in 2013 - the number of foreign cruise ships exceeded one hundred for the year: 109 ships in Yalta, 58 in Sevastopol, and 18 in Feodosia (for reference, there were 106 in Odesa). I should note that these were often huge ships, carrying three thousand Western tourists.
As for another myth that Crimea was subsidized, this is not true. We have a study on this topic. If you take all the taxes and fees collected in Crimea, all the expenses, and take into account grants and subventions from the state budget, the coefficient was 1.2-1.3. That is, Crimea collected 20-30% more taxes and fees than Crimea spent. There was no subsidization there. Of course, the situation is not the same now.
By the way, it was in Crimea that Russia first implemented its plan for an information blockade. Let's imagine that there is a glass aquarium with Crimeans in it, and only the Russia Today signal is received there. Our psychology experts say that in such situations, three to five months are enough, and even a patriotic person will "swim away". And nine years have already passed. This is a long time. Those children who started first grade in 2014 are already graduating from school. It is clear that if people consume the same information for so long, they will have problems.
In this sense, there are hopes for the Crimean Tatars. They live in compact, fairly large communities (two, seven, ten thousand people each). It is only there that people can maintain some kind of alternative opinion.
- And then what do we do with collaborators? There are tens of thousands of them. How to solve this problem?
- A few months ago, the Nash Format publishing house published a book by Tony Judt, “After the War. A History of Europe since 1945". It is now on sale.
In it, he explores, among other things, Nazi Germany after the war. Unfortunately, there are different types of collaborationism. Those who worked in the state bodies of the occupation authorities are considered collaborators under our law. But Judt writes that in Germany, two or three years after 1945, even those who were members of the Nazi party were forced to take on civil service. Because there were no others.
We need to understand what will happen in these territories. We recently met and spent several days discussing future problems based on facts, not emotions.
Since everything there will be mined, set on fire, poisoned, and destroyed, the first people to enter the territory of Crimea, in addition to the military, should be representatives of the National Guard, the police, the Security Service of Ukraine (to conduct military and counterintelligence exercises), the State Emergency Service, sanitary and epidemiological services, and so on. Because we will have to demine everything, extinguish fires, restore water and power supply, and the entire engineering infrastructure. There will be a huge amount of work for the SES - for years!
For example, the occupiers built three power plants there - in Sevastopol, Simferopol and Saki - because they were developing the military industry and needed to provide electricity to the huge group of troops that was there. They will destroy all this. We saw them leaving the Kherson region. There was no power supply there for a long time, and now the Russians are shelling the city and the region.
We are also well aware that in parallel, Crimea should be turned into our military base.
- This will be a forced step for Ukraine.
- Of course. Ideally, it would be desirable to have a NATO naval unit deployed in Crimea. We have talked about this and, I hope, we will soon talk about it at the next forum of the Crimean Security Platform.
There will be no security in the Black Sea if Crimea remains occupied. And when we de-occupy it, there will still be no security as long as Ukraine and its allies do not use this peninsula to squeeze Russia into the North Caucasus (Novorossiysk, Tuapse), as it was during World War II. Therefore, our Crimea will have the function of a very powerful Ukrainian military outpost.
I will also say the following. You know, our people are very romantic. They dream: "Once we drive the Russians out, tourism will quickly revive in Crimea." This is still a long way off.
As for the number of officials who really need to be trained, we estimate that in 2014 and later, up to a hundred thousand Crimeans left for the mainland of Ukraine. These people will not be enough, of course. Because such work requires their desire, qualifications, and professional level. Therefore, future Crimean officials need to be trained. Because each region has its own specifics. We need to prepare such human resources now.crimea ukraine russia
Someone needs to inform those who threatened to mine, set on fire and poison the water of Crimea that in that case Russians WILL NOT be leaving Crimea the way we let you leave Kherson. At least not until we have used all of you to walk over evey inch of Crimea finding your mines for us and drinking a quart of water out of every possible water source, as for fires we will have the general population fighting those fires up close and personal with squirt bottles, Any of you who survive all that can be very proud of all those who lost their lives making SURE Ukraine (especially Crimea) was once again safe for Ukrainians. THEN you can go and never return.