Under the Ukrainian authorities, there were no armed conflicts, either in Crimea or anywhere else on the territory of Ukraine. Every year, the peninsula attracted more and more tourists, blossomed, and developed peacefully. For example, in 2011, the “Perove” photovoltaic solar power plant — at that time the most powerful in the world — went into operation in the center of Crimea.
Cultural initiatives also grew rapidly. Since the mid-90s, the large-scale festival “Kazantip” has been held in Crimea, which combined rave, the sea, sports, and an ironic attitude to life. However, after the annexation attempt, the event was no longer held in Crimea. Another big Koktebel Jazz Festival was also forced to move from the peninsula, at which in different years Parov Stelar, Red Snapper, Kadebostany, De-Phazz, Bonobo, GusGus, Jamala, and other world music stars performed.
And already-legendary boxer Oleksandr Usyk, who was born and grew up in Crimea, said that he will return there only with Ukrainian flags. By the way, director and Sakharov Prize laureate Oleh Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Russia in 2014 for speaking out against the annexation attempt, is also from Crimea. People all over the planet fought for his release, but this happened only in 2019.
Moscow is acting in Crimea using its usual methods. Educational institutions and organizations of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people, were banned, free media were destroyed, and potentially disloyal people were persecuted. Instead, these lands are massively populated by people from the Russian hinterland – according to the estimates of various Ukrainian experts, they were brought from 600,000 to 1 million.
Russia treats Crimea’s ecology and cultural heritage in a consumerist way. Along with ecocide against the unique Crimean nature, historical values are being exported, and monuments are being destroyed. Unique wines of the 18th century from Crimean wineries are uncorked and drunk.
Crimea has been declared an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” by Moscow. It is a fortress armed to the teeth, an outpost of the empire. For Russia, the peninsula is another faceless province populated by the army, police, colonial officials, and Russian pensioners who use Crimea’s natural resources as trophies.
From a hub of civilizations and a recreational pearl to a fenced-in military base where there are even carriers of nuclear weapons, this is where Russia is leading Crimea.