Vladimir Putin’s ‘Hunky-Dory’ Act Flops as Frantic Russians Flee Crimea

As Ukrainian forces gain momentum and push the Russian military to withdraw from territory stolen during the Ukraine war this year, Moscow is working to signal that some of the territory it has taken from Ukraine is off limits.

Russia’s Crimean governor, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Friday that Russia is working to strengthen its defenses in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as fears grow that Ukrainian authorities may intend to take it back.

“The security of the Republic of Crimea and its residents is ensured through measures taken on behalf of our president,” Aksyonov said. “The joint work of the authorities, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and law enforcement agencies is aimed at ensuring that Crimeans can feel calm.

Despite Aksyonov’s insistence that Crimea would remain calm, Crimean civilians have reportedly begun reading between the lines and fleeing as fears grow that Ukraine may be serious about taking Crimea back, according to Emil Ibragimov, head of the Education Q-Hub platform. Ibrahimov told Radio NV that people are fleeing to Russia’s Krasnodar region to avoid any consequences, according to Newsweek.

“That is, we see this trend and we can conclude that this is, of course, panic and fear that the [Ukraine] “The armed forces will be able to liberate Crimea in the near future,” Ibrahimov said.

Aksyonov’s attempt to spin a narrative that he will hold Crimea comes at a time when Russia’s plan to take over Ukraine looks worse than ever. Increasingly, Russian officials are questioning the judgment and military plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Counteroffensives by Ukrainian forces across Ukraine have forced Russia to withdraw from multiple pockets it seized during the conflict this year. Earlier this month, Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of Kherson — a key city that was Russia’s last stronghold west of the Dnieper river — in what Ukrainian officials see as a precursor to retaking Crimea.

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Kherson is located north of Crimea, and a defeat there represents a major loss for Putin’s dream of creating a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, as well as securing further incursions into Ukrainian territory.

The loss of Kherson signals to the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the time may be right to go after Crimea and kick Russia out, The Daily Beast has learned. The official in charge of the return of Crimea from Russia in the Zelensky administration, Tamila Tasheva, said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast earlier this month that the recapture of Kherson is a precursor to the return of Crimea and that the Zelensky administration is increasingly looking to the military. component of Russia’s expulsion.

“We understand that it’s really connected – the de-occupation of Crimea – connected to the situation on the battlefield, in the southern part of Ukraine, especially to the de-occupation of Kherson,” Tasheva told The Daily Beast.

And while diplomacy is key to returning Crimea, “we too [talk] for another mechanism of de-occupation including, of course, military components of de-occupation”, Tasheva added.

Zelensky said in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday that there will be no peace until Ukraine returns Crimea. “A simple ceasefire will not work,” he said.

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Russia has indeed focused its attention on Crimea in recent days, according to a British intelligence analysis shared on Friday.

We must show resilience.

“After withdrawing its forces west of the Dnieper River, Russian forces continue to prioritize overhauling, reorganizing and preparing defenses in most sectors of Ukraine,” the intelligence analysis said. “Units built new trench systems near the Crimean border, as well as near the Siversky-Donets River between Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.”

The area’s particularly limited number of stable roads and railways could make it vulnerable to Ukrainian targeting, according to the Institute for the Study of War. However, Ukrainian forces are reportedly still not operating on the eastern bank of the river.

The renewed attention on Crimea comes as Ukrainian forces build up across Ukraine and as the Russian leadership increasingly realizes how poorly prepared the military is to match Ukraine and its continued military aid from the West, given Russia’s poor logistics and execution of battle plans since the beginning. days of the war. Russia’s response has been a furious attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, in an apparent attempt to use what little power it has left to deprive Ukraine of energy resources over the winter, analysts say.

Russia launched attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure after several attacks on military entities in Crimea in October. As Russian forces continue their offensive in Bakhmut, Avdivka and southwest of the city of Donetsk, in the last 24 hours alone Russia has shelled the regions of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk. to the regional military administrations. Earlier this week, Russia launched nearly 100 missiles into Ukraine in what is believed to be one of its biggest attacks so far this year.

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Recent Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure have left roughly 50 percent of Ukraine’s energy system out of commission, said Denis Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister. Emergency shutdowns are expected in the coming hours and throughout the weekend, state energy company Ukrenergo said in a statement on Friday.

The dire situation coincides with the first snowfall in Ukraine, a signal that harsher winter days are ahead. Ukrainian authorities have begun to fear that they may not be able to recover from some attacks on energy infrastructure in the near future, according to Politico.

Poland is bracing for an influx of Ukrainian refugees as the winter months settle in and Ukraine could become increasingly untenable, according to local reports.

Ukrainians will have to be resilient in the coming days if Russia continues its campaign, Ukrenergo warned on Friday.

“The restriction of consumption is a consequence of the Russian missile attacks on the energy system of Ukraine,” Ukrenergo said on Friday. “This winter we must show resilience and courage to face the enemy on the energy front.”

Shmyhal added on Friday that Ukraine had imported nearly 9,000 generators to try to help ease energy supply difficulties, according to customs data from this week.

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