Russians Fleeing Crimea Amid Fears of Ukrainian Advance—Report


Russian soldiers patrol the area surrounding a Ukrainian military unit in Perevalnoye, outside Simferopol in Crimea, on March 20, 2014. Russians are reportedly fleeing Crimea amid fears that Ukraine will soon move to recapture the region that Vladimir Putin illegally annexed in 2014.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Russians are fleeing Crimea amid fears that Ukraine will soon move to recapture the region that Vladimir Putin illegally annexed in 2014, according to local media reports.

Emil Ibragimov, the head of the Crimean project and educational platform Q-Hub, told Radio NV in a video published on Friday that Russians are fleeing from Crimea to the neighboring Russian region of Krasnodar because they fear Ukraine will eventually liberate the Black Sea peninsula.

Ibragimov said that many Russian citizens who settled in Crimea after it was occupied eight years ago had already left.

“We saw a video and, according to the locals, many people left Crimea after strikes by the [Ukraine] Armed Forces. And we know about the relocation of local occupiers or occupier officials to the Krasnodar region of Russia, where they are currently renting apartments, moving there to live,” he said.

“That is, we see this trend and can conclude that this is, of course, panic and fear that the [Ukraine] Armed Forces will be able to liberate Crimea in the near future,” Ibragimov added.

His remarks coincide with an assessment by the British Ministry of Defence on Friday. This concluded that Russia is regrouping its forces in preparation for a potential Ukrainian push into Crimea and other Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the western portion of the southern Kherson region on November 10.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to take back Crimea during a televised address on August 29, saying that Ukraine’s military had “kept the goal” of recapturing Crimea since it was annexed.

“This war, which began with Russia’s occupation of our Crimea, with an attempt to seize Donbas, must end precisely there—in the liberated Crimea, in the liberated cities of Donbas, with our troops reaching the state border of Ukraine,” said Zelensky. “We have always kept this goal in mind. We do not forget about it.”

“This will happen,” he continued. “This is ours. And just as our society understands it, I want the occupiers to understand it, too. There will be no place for them on Ukrainian land… The occupiers should know: we will oust them to the border. To our border, the line of which has not changed. The invaders know it well.”

Zelensky warned Russian troops to either flee or surrender “if they want to survive.”

In October, an explosion caused the partial collapse of a bridge connecting Russia to Crimea, angering Putin and prompting him to launch a barrage of missile strikes across Ukraine targeting critical infrastructure and causing civilian deaths.

The explosion on the bridge over the Kerch Strait damaged an important supply route for Russia’s forces. Ukrainian officials celebrated the explosion, but did not claim responsibility.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.


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