The years of militarization of the occupied peninsula did not pass aimlessly for the Kremlin. Russia managed to fill Crimea with weapons and servicemen as much as possible. Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression, the temporarily occupied peninsula has become a springboard for Russia’s attacks on mainland Ukraine.

And no one asked the local population, who were even forbidden to use the word “war”. Most likely, Russia sought to drag the toccupied peninsula into a bloody confrontation, and it must be admitted that it succeeded.

In previous articles, we have already analyzed the role of the self-proclaimed “government” in the war against Ukraine in measuring the covert “mobilization” of Crimeans, illegal deportation of Ukrainians, theft of property from Ukrainian territories, and repression of local activists.

However, we would like to focus on the use of the occupied peninsula for direct military aggression against Ukraine, that is, to talk about how Russia is destroying Ukrainians from the territory of the peninsula.

The available facts were analyzed by experts of the Association of Reintegration of Crimea.

For Ukraine, the Kremlin’s plans became apparent when its intelligence in February 2022 recorded a significant increase in the number of Russian military contingents on the occupied peninsula. Moreover, the strengthening of the military presence was observed both on the peninsula and in the Black Sea. We are talking about more than 32 thousand soldiers, of which the aggressor state has created an interspecies group [1].

Later, these forces illegally entered the territory of Kherson Region and occupied a significant part of it. In terms of such thorough preparations for war, the Kremlin’s statements about a “peaceful settlement” of the occupied Ukrainian territories look very cynical. Although any illusions are superfluous here, because back in 2014, the occupiers fired at a plane from the territory of the Crimea with border guards patrolling the administrative border with the occupied peninsula. Moreover, this aircraft was not even equipped with weapons, but was used exclusively for patrolling [2].

On the eve of the military invasion, the occupiers, in their usual manner, declared to the world that they were “removing equipment from the peninsula”. They even provided a video of military equipment exiting the “Kerch Bridge”, which took part in tactical exercises at the training grounds of the peninsula. According to the aggressor’s officials “on defense”, this equipment was “directed to the territory of Russia in places of permanent deployment” [3].

And in a week, this military equipment will be transferred to the peninsula again and will take part in active hostilities. However, the world is unlikely to believe this view, as after these statements, the US President said that the risks of Russian invasion of Ukraine are still too high, and suggested continuing diplomatic talks to resolve the conflict [4].

Instead, the Kremlin’s decision to invade was unequivocal, and no talks were held. By the way, with the beginning of the “second phase” of the so-called “special operation”, Crimean collaborators restricted the movement of the population of the peninsula by the Kerch Bridge. Experts stated two reasons: the Kremlin was preparing sabotage on the bridge and releasing it for further active transfer of troops [5].

Despite any assumptions, it is already obvious that the aggressor state launched an offensive against Ukraine from the territory of the occupied peninsula. On February 24, 2022, border guards were fired upon from the Crimea in the Preobrazhenka district of the Kherson region. The shelling came from rocket-propelled grenade launchers, resulting in the first casualties.

Thus, according to the Russian invaders’ plan, it was the occupied Crimea that became a springboard for an illegal invasion, naturally, not taking into account the fact that Ukrainian citizens live on the peninsula who may have suffered from retaliatory shelling. But this is probably what the Kremlin’s “commanders” were counting on. This shows the Kremlin’s painful desire to start a war from the territories that will be occupied in 2014. Most likely, this desire is due to the fact that foreign territories are not a pity, and even more so the occupiers are indifferent to the fate of the local population.

Further developments were quite predictable, as Russia only intensified plans to attack Ukraine from the territory of the occupied peninsula. Moreover, peaceful Ukrainian cities throughout the country suffered from such attacks. So, in the beginning of April invaders fired from the territory of the Crimea Odessa region. As a result of the shelling from the “Iskander” missile complex, civilians from the Odessa District were killed.

Later, in late April, a missile strike was fired from the occupied Crimea at the Bastion anti-ship complex at Odessa airport. As a result, the runway of the airport was significantly damaged [8]. It should be noted that it was one of the most modern airports in Ukraine. In particular, a new runway with a length of almost three kilometers was put into operation in 2021. According to the operational command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, this strip can no longer be used, as it needs a complete upgrade [9]. In about the same way, the occupiers destroyed the airport in Donetsk in 2014.

Not only Odesa suffered from the shelling from the Crimea. On April 28, 2022, Russia attacked Kyiv from the territory of the peninsula. Rocket fire damaged infrastructure facilities in the Shevchenkivsky district of the Ukrainian capital.

At what the occupiers changed tactics. They began firing several missiles at a time to make them difficult to shoot down with air defense. This technology was first tested by the invaders stationed in the Crimea [10]. It also got to Mykolaiv who fired from the occupied peninsula on April 23, 2022. The attack was carried out from the “Bal” coastal missile complex with “X-35” anti-ship missiles. Missiles of this type are quite difficult to detect air defense systems. The shelling affected homes, cafes and grocery stores [11]. It seems that the aggressor state is trying to tarnish the occupied peninsula as much as possible and involve it in its own war crimes. At this time, the self-proclaimed “authorities” of Crimea express their full support for the “special operation” of the Kremlin on the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

It should be noted that Russia is quite active in using the airfields of the occupied Crimea to bomb Ukrainian cities. First of all, it is worth noting the airfields Saki and Belbek, from which Russian planes took off to bomb the drama theater in Mariupol, where children and women were hiding. Also, according to military intelligence, the occupiers use airfields near the settlements of Kacha, Gvardiyske and Dzhankoy [12].

Numerous departures from these airfields cause enormous damage to civilian infrastructure and casualties among civilians. One year ago, Ukraine documented and transmitted to the OSCE data on more than 260 aircraft transferred to the airfields of the annexed Crimea. The situation was considered at the Forum for Security Cooperation, during which the Ukrainian delegation reported on all available facts [13]. As we can see, even the publication of such data did not stop the Kremlin, which turned the Ukrainian peninsula into a solid military base.

By the way, it became known that the occupiers transferred strategic aircraft, including the “Tu”, which launch “X-type” missiles, to the peninsula. Since the beginning of the war, Russia has been using these missiles to strike Western Ukraine, namely Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and other regions. Note that these aircraft are able to use other modifications of missiles with thermonuclear warheads [14].

It seems that the Kremlin is making the occupied Crimea a target, because in the event of a nuclear attack and Russia’s outbreak of global war, the “answer” may arrive at the airfield of strategic aviation. However, most likely Russia does not feel sorry for these territories and peaceful Crimeans.

According to analysts, the Kremlin began to actively use Crimean airfields because the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not allow the aggressor to gain a foothold in Chornobaivka. And this applies not only to fighters but also to Russian helicopters. This situation allowed to protect Mykolayiv Region [15]. However, the load on the Crimean airfields has increased significantly, posing a threat to the civilian population of the occupied peninsula.

In addition to the airfields of the peninsula, the occupiers are quite active in the Black Sea. “Caliber” and “Dagger” missiles fly from ships to the peaceful cities of Ukraine from the shores of the Crimea. In particular, naval missiles fired on the Zhytomyr region, Lviv and Kharkiv. According to investigators from “The Insider”, on March 26, Russia fired the largest number of missiles in Ukraine – 70. And 52 of them were fired by ships of the Black Sea Fleet from the waters near Sevastopol [16].

In fact, it clearly demonstrates why the occupiers needed Crimea. Since the beginning of the occupation, the Russians have only sought to militarize the peninsula and turn it into a training ground for their deadly missiles. The Black Sea is also used by the Kremlin for provocations and demonstrations. It is worth remembering the incident with the ship of the British Navy last June, when the occupiers reported that they allegedly “fired at this ship”. Although, according to Great Britain, there was no shelling, as the ship made a peaceful passage through the territorial waters of Ukraine [17].

Such military activity in the Black Sea has already led to the mass death of dolphins and birds. Biologists argue that animals are negatively affected by constant shots from ships and submarines, as well as radiation from the navigation devices of Russian warships [18].

But it is probably much more important for the Kremlin to keep the myth of the “second army in the world”, for which they do not spare the ecosystems of the occupied peninsula. Also, the occupiers, of course, do not spare people. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the Kremlin could use the occupied peninsula to provoke. In particular, provocations are planned at the “Titan” chemical plant in the city of Armyansk, near the Kherson Region. We are talking about possible terrorist attacks or chemical sabotage in order to accuse Ukraine [19]. In fact, the Crimean residents became hostages of Russia, which promised to save them from the “Banderists”, but in fact stole the European future. And now, instead of a quiet life, they are constantly at risk of falling victim to the Kremlin’s political games.

Today, the staff of the Office of the President of Ukraine in the Crimea is coming to disappointing conclusions, because since the beginning of the large-scale war, the situation has deteriorated significantly in the Crimea. According to them, the aggression, which began in Crimea in 2014, can end only after the liberation and reintegration of the peninsula [20].

Probably the Crimean residents have already realized what a mess they are in, but now that the “power bloc” and the self-proclaimed “power” of the occupiers have built a strict system of control and coercion, it is very difficult to get out of this situation.

And the Kremlin is already beginning to break another bottom. Thus, at the end of April, the heads of the occupying pseudo-“administrations” in the Crimea were asked to improve their skills in organizing burials. This initiative was made by the “Russian Interregional Center for Business and Vocational Education”. The local population is alarmed by the fact that such issues are raised during the Kremlin’s large-scale armed aggression against Ukraine [21].

Experts suggest that the self-proclaimed “government” is planned to be taught to secretly bury not only Russian soldiers but also their victims. Given this, there are great risks of creating a base for mass burials on the occupied peninsula. There, Russia can hide from the world community and its own citizens numerous victims of aggression [21]. It is also a direct threat to the lives of Crimean residents and the unique ecosystem of the peninsula.

If the threat of mass burials is only in the future today, the mass storage of corpses of Russian servicemen in Crimea is a reality. Since the beginning of the war, Russia has disposed of its victims in crematoria in Simferopol. However, now the situation has changed. The corpses of Russians are stored on the peninsula and sent in small batches to Russia. This is due to the Kremlin’s fear of public reaction to the significant losses in the war with Ukraine [22].

Nevertheless, Ukraine is trying to preserve the Crimean residents and the occupied peninsula. Since the beginning of the war, the state leadership has been proposing to discuss the Crimea issue and look for diplomatic ways to return it. The state seeks to protect the Crimean residents from further militarization and destruction.

This is the reason for the statements about a possible missile strike on the Kerch Bridge. According to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov, such a blow will be inflicted if necessary, because Russia is constantly transferring military equipment to the Kherson Region and the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhya region through this bridge [24]. Now it is clear why the occupiers invested a lot of “budget funds” in this city, and “care for the Crimean residents” is useless here.

After a few months of war, things became apparent that during the years of occupation of the Crimea were sometimes difficult to explain to the average person. Infrastructure construction, militarization, and total anti-Ukrainian propaganda were all just stages in the preparations for a full-scale war that Russia had long planned to launch against Ukraine.

From the first days of the war, it became clear that all the talk about “home harbor” and “care” on the part of Russia was just an excuse to start a bloody war in the middle of Europe in the near future.

Moreover, the occupied “Crimea” was given the most “dirty” role in this war – to become a springboard for an attempt to destroy the independence and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, which once did everything possible to ensure the development and prosperity of Crimea. Now all possible types of weapons, including banned ones, are being harvested from this territory in mainland Ukraine.

Cynicism is also that the Crimean residents are against the war, but no one even asks them about it. The Kremlin is stubbornly dragging the peninsula into its own war crimes, making the self-proclaimed “government” complicit in the destruction of the Ukrainian people. However, justice is on our side, so Ukraine will definitely win.

Sources:

1. https://www.slovoidilo.ua/2022/02/13/novyna/bezpeka/krymu-perebuvaye-32-tysyachi-rosijskyx-vijskovyx-minoborony

2. https://dumskaya.net/news/v-krymu-obstrelyali-samolet-ukrainskih-pogranich-033445/

3. https://ru.krymr.com/a/news-rf-kerch-most-tehnika-video/31707038.html

4. https://forbes.ua/ru/news/minoboroni-rf-zayavilo-pro-povernennya-chastini-viysk-z-krimu-pislya-navchan-eshelon-iz-viyskovoyu-tekhnikoyu-peretnuv-krimskiy-mist-16022022-3697

5. https://crimea.suspilne.media/ua/news/7679

6. https://www.segodnya.ua/regions/krym/ataka-rf-iz-okkupirovannogo-kryma-dvizhetsya-tehnika-ubit-ukrainskiy-pogranichnik-video-1604933.html

7. https://www.slovoidilo.ua/2022/04/01/novyna/suspilstvo/okupanty-obstrilyaly-raketamy-odesku-oblast-terytoriyi-krymu

8. https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/raketnyy-obstrel-aeroporta-odessy-udar-nanesli-1651337592.html

9. https://www.avianews.com/ukraine/2022/04/30/odessa_damaged_by_missiles/

10. https://gordonua.com/news/kiev/gerashchenko-soobshchil-chto-kiev-obstreljali-s-territorii-okkupirovannogo-rf-kryma-odnu-iz-raket-sbili-sily-pvo-1606648.html

11. https://www.ukrinform.ru/rubric-regions/3465724-obstrel-nikolaeva-vrag-udaril-protivokorabelnoj-raketoj-s-territorii-kryma.html

12. https://lb.ua/society/2022/03/21/510518_litaki_okupantiv_atakuyut_ukrainu_z.html

13. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-crimea/3269352-ukraina-pokazala-v-obse-suputnikovi-znimki-aerodromiv-v-okupovanomu-krimu.html

14. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/skhemy-rosiyski-litaky-atakuyut-ukrayinu/31762189.html

15. https://espreso.tv/ukrainska-artileriya-ne-dala-rosiyanam-zakripitisya-u-chornobaivtsi-tomu-voni-zmusheni-vikoristovuvati-aerodromi-okupovanogo-krimu-analitik

16. https://ua.krymr.com/a/rosia-obstril-ukrainy-krym/31788420.html

17. https://www.unn.com.ua/ru/news/1933765-bombi-ne-skidali-u-britaniyi-sprostuvali-obstril-viyskovimi-rf-esmintsya-bilya-okupovanogo-krimu

18. https://novynarnia.com/2022/05/04/u-chornomu-mori-cherez-diyi/ 

19. https://zaxid.net/rosiyani_gotuyut_provokatsiyu_na_titanovomu_zavodi_v_okupovanomu_krimu_n1536668

20. https://tvoemisto.tv/news/shcho_zaraz_vidbuvaietsya_v_okupovanomu_krymu_i_yak_tse_poznachaietsya_na_reshti_krainy_dyskusiya_129908.html

21. https://qirim.news/novosti-uk/v-okupovanomu-krymu-navchatymut-hovaty-lyudej/

22. https://bigkyiv.com.ua/z-krymu-trupy-okupantiv-vidpravlyayut-do-rf-malenkymy-porcziyamy-shhob-rosiyany-ne-ohyily-vid-kilkosti-likvidovanyh/

23. https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/news-60663741

24. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-danilov-krymskyi-mist/31814124.html