"Day and night we are told that Ukraine is going to attack the Donbas, where our Russian brothers live. All this is supposedly happening on the initiative of the USA and NATO. This is a brief summary of information that comes from TVs, local newspapers and various social networks. It is separately mentioned that if Ukraine recaptures and massacres the Donbas with the help of Western weapons, the Crimea will be next. And so it has been going on loop for several months", - resident of occupied Simferopol Svitlana told OstroV.
Recently, the information space of the Crimea has been flooded with news about the impending invasion of the occupied territories of Donbas (CADLO) by the Ukrainian military. Local residents complain in a commentary to OstroV that "the pumping is going on with such force" that even the most "strong" Ukrainian patriots who remained to live on the peninsula and simply sober-minded people began to believe in this information.
"If you are not preparing to attack the Donbas, then why are you bringing military personnel and equipment there? Moreover, the West is now supplying you with tons of weapons. Why do you need all this?", - resident of the Crimea Mykhailo asks.
The explanation that this is a consequence of the accumulation of more than a hundred thousand Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders is not accepted.
"These are just Russian exercises. We are holding them on our territory and we have every right to do this", - the resident of the peninsula retorts, ignoring that Ukraine is also strengthening its defense capabilities on its territory.
"Fulfill those damn Minsk agreements that you signed, give up NATO and live peacefully and calmly. There are only two simple solutions", - he sums up.
It is this "recipe" for peace that is being promoted in the Russian and Crimean media outlets.
OstroV spoke with several residents of the occupied peninsula with different political views, who told about how the Crimea regards a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, and how local media cover this topic.
"No one believes that Russia can attack Ukraine just like that. This information is being dispersed by the Americans and Europeans. Ukraine itself does not understand that it is being drawn into this game and driven into an unnecessary war. Well, why should Russia attack Ukraine? What can we capture from you? All Russian experts unanimously say that we are not going to start a war. All political shows say only one thing, that Russia does not want war. All politicians and high-ranking officials also say that there will be no invasion. If it would like to – it invaded a long time ago. So why is Ukraine escalating the situation and dancing to the tune of the West and the USA? Everyone needs to calm down, meet, discuss all issues and stop hysteria", - resident of the Crimea says Mykhailo says.
According to him, if Russia wanted to attack Ukraine, it would do it "quickly and quietly" and would not allow this topic to be discussed for several months.
The topic of a possible war occupies a special place in the Crimean media, but Russia's attack on Ukraine is called "mythical".
"Madness in connection with the expected "Russian invasion" covered Ukraine to the full. And the "invasion" itself became an idée fixe for many people who were or still are in power. Poroshenko's entourage believes that Putin will attack Kherson, Zelensky's – Kharkiv. It seems that Turchynov wants to follow in the footsteps of Yatsenyuk and announced that no matter where Putin attacked from, it is necessary to dig trenches and build defensive lines. But the trouble is that it is no longer possible to find the required amount of chain-link in Ukrainein order to hold Russian tanks and helicopters. You should understand that helicopters will fly very low for camouflage and will certainly stumble upon a chain-link… It is useless to persuade them that no one is going to attack them, turn to them, appealing to the voice of reason, that is, to which is clearly in short supply there", - Komsomolskaya Pravda in the Crimea "respectfully" writes about the Ukrainians.
The newspaper quotes member of the Council for Interethnic Relations under the President of the Russian Federation Bogdan Bezpalko, who believes that statements about Russia's invasion of Ukraine are not serious.
"I think that no one really believes in Russia's mythical invasion of Ukraine. Not in Europe, not in the States, not even in Ukraine itself. Zelensky recently urged residents to abandon bulk food purchases precisely under the pretext that rumors of an invasion are somewhat exaggerated. I do not think that now all these statements are of a serious nature. Rather, this is the nature of media hysteria, which is simply intended to be a certain background for negotiations. The Europeans, of course, do not need this, because for them, it is just an allied obligation in relation to the USA. But the Americans need this for the background of negotiations between them and our country", - he stated on Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Svetlana from Sevastopol does not believe in a large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to her, the rhetoric of the local media comes down to the fact that Ukraine is a victim, and the West is using it in its own interests.
"Russia, of course, is neither an angel nor a dove of peace. I understand very well that it illegally annexed theу Crimea and that there are Russian troops and support in the Donbas. I do not wear rose-colored glasses. But there is a limit to everything. Invading Ukraine is nonsense. You can even judge by what is shown on TV. They say that the main enemies of Russia are the USA, NATO, Great Britain and some European countries that dream of a weak Russia. And Ukraine is just a victim, it is used to "annoy Russia". Of course, I do not think so, but there is a minority of people thinking this way in the Crimea. Basically, everyone believes these TV stories, they retell them at work, in social networks and so on", - she told OstroV.
As for the Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders, then, according to her, Russia has every right to conduct any exercises on its territory.
This rhetoric is actively supported by the local media. They pay special attention to the fact that the movement of Russian troops within the territory of their country is Russia's personal business.
"Conversations around the "concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine" and the allegedly impending "military invasion" in the Western media and foreign political quarters have not subsided for several months. Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov described this as an artificial frenzy. The Kremlin repeatedly emphasized that the movement of Russian troops within the territory of its country is a personal business of Russia, it does not threaten anyone and should not worry anyone. Commenting on a possible military "invasion" of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly stated that Russia is pursuing a peaceful foreign policy and is not going to "attack" anyone", - RIA Novosti-Krym writes.
"The main thing is not NATO, but Donbas"
"When I read Ukrainian and foreign media, everyone writes that Russia is worried that Ukraine will join NATO. In our country, this is presented as a secondary requirement. At least, this follows from the rhetoric of local information sources. The main news is Donbas, what will happen to it. We are being pumped with information that Ukraine will attack the Donbas. And it is not Ukraine's entry into NATO, but the war unleashed by the Ukrainian military in the East, that is the biggest tragedy. There has never been such rhetoric before", - resident of Sevastopol Svitlana told OstroV.
She notes that the media have previously written that "the Ukrainian army is shelling the peaceful Donbas", but now the rhetoric has become as militant and frightening as possible.
Every morning, along with a news report about the weather and coronavirus, messages like "The General Staff of the AFU has completed the development of an offensive plan in the Donbas – DNR", "Right Sector can be used as mop-up teams in the DNR", "The head of the LNR assessed the possible consequences of Kyiv's offensive on the Donbas", "Ukrainian special forces arrived at the line of contact, the LNR stated", "Ukraine is secretly transporting fuel and ammunition to the Donbas – DNR".
"Similar news comes out every day from all sources: social networks, television and newspapers. And there is no opinion of the second party, only references to the DNR, LNR or Russian data. They are preparing to attack, kill Russians, destroy Donbas and stuff like that", - Svitlana says.
A separate leitmotif of stories about the Donbas is how Russia helps its brothers who are in trouble.
"It seems that we are being prepared not for war, but for the recognition or even annexation of the Donbas to Russia. There is too much talk and writing about it in the local media now. There are a lot of stories in the news about the residents of Donbas who moved to the Crimea. You know, kind of success stories like: "I lived in Donetsk with my family, but the Ukrainians began to bomb us, and we left for the Crimea. Here I got a job in a kindergarten and I thank Russia for a peaceful life". However, local residents do not believe in these fairy tales. These are occasional stories. Basically, our people still do not like visitors from the Donbas", - resident of Yevpatoria Serhiy told our news agency.
OstroV has repeatedly written that after 2014, it is quite difficult for the residents of Donbas to rent housing in large Crimean cities.
"This has been a practice since 2014. At that time, Crimeans wanted to help the residents of Donbas, rented out housing to them, even made some discounts. But then many of them walk over them, refused to pay and move out and brought more relatives and friends from the Donbas to the apartment. Therefore, the discounts stopped very quickly. People began to make additional demands on visitors from the Donbas – to ask for a larger amount of collateral, documents, proof that there is a job and so on. All this remains today. So there is no special brotherly love here. There are business and distrust", - a local realtor told OstroV.
Residents of the Crimea on social networks were divided in their opinions about whether Russia's war against Ukraine is expedient. Some media and groups purposefully publish militant reports about a possible war almost on the territory of the Crimea, but the majority of Crimeans in the comments oppose any military activity.
"What for? With whom will you fight? Is anyone capturing you? Are you being killed? What is this circus for? Crimeans are peaceful people! We do not want any wars, since the beginning will lead to the end of the world. HEY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WITH BIG PURSES! THERE WILL BE NO WINNERS", - resident of Simferopol Natasha K. writes.
"Excellent. There were no wars and clashes in 2014, so let's create it out of the blue! But no one thought that when Ukraine starts to fight back from our offensive, missiles will fly towards the Crimea and hit, right? And no one in the world will criticize Kyiv for this, because this is their territory under international law", - resident of Sevastopol Mikhail R. writes.
"Do not we have any other problems? Do we have normal prices? Are we recognized by the world? Do we have better service? Did the roads appear? Is there a lot of water? Did the sea become cleaner? Are the banks working? We are already on the verge here. If hostilities begin, even the Russians will not come here. At best, we will become a near-front zone, at worst – a front. Do we want such a future?", - resident of Simferopol Oleksandr N. argues on Facebook.
"I do not have much love for Ukraine, but starting a war and attacking is already too much. I have some acquaintances in Ukraine, we sometimes exchange messages, there is some kind of contact, they are also not very happy with the local authorities, but they live normally, travel to Europe, get normal salaries, and develop as best they can. How can we look into their eyes, if the Russian military go there to smash and bomb everything? Yes, I do not believe in it, this cannot even wrap my mind around. Everything is possible, but war…", - Serhiy wrote on one of the Crimean forums.
"How to stop theft and corruption? How to distract the population from beggarly pensions and salaries? Coronavirus did not help, we need to arrange a war in the neighboring territory. This is pro-Putin and patriotic! We still need to be patient until the child has played enough war games. Fucking Napoleon", - resident of the peninsula Marharyta P. writes.
Although to a lesser extent, there are those who openly advocate military activity against Ukraine.
"Ukraine played too much. At first it started a war in the Donbas, then it wanted NATO, and now it is pulling in troops to the east of the country in order to teach those who speak Russian a lesson. Bomb Kyiv a couple of times and they will quickly understand everything. Banderites should have been put in their place a long time ago", - Misha K wrote on VK.
"Maybe there is no need for war, but it is impossible to remain inactive too. The West has already unloaded all the weapons to Ukraine. What for? Definitely not for the beauty. How do we know what the Ukrainian leadership will think of tomorrow? What if they want to liberate Donbas first, and then Crimea, by military means? It is better to strike first", - resident of the Crimea Pavlo U. believes.
"Ukrainians should not be touched, but their leadership can be removed. Or tomorrow there will be NATO troops and missiles that will be directed at us", - resident of Sevastopol Raisa N. wrote on Facebook.
Prices and travel business
A potential war on the borders with the Crimea could negatively affect the economic development of the region. The local media do not talk about this, but the Crimeans themselves understand.
Prices on the occupied peninsula have long shocked even the residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to official statistics, annual inflation in the "Republic of Crimea" in December 2021 accelerated by 0.39 percentage points compared to November, to 8.68%, having outpaced the Russian average of 8.39%. The annual increase in food prices in the Crimea at the end of December amounted to 11.04%, in Sevastopol – to 14.09%.
"Prices have risen a lot over the past six months. I bought the same loaf in the summer for 60 rubles, today it costs 69 rubles. We are told that this is normal, that this is the case all over the world. But salaries and pensions have remained approximately at the same level. Earlier, we were told that the Crimean Bridge would be built and prices would stabilize, but everything happens the other way around. If the war that needs money begins, then prices will get out of control completely. Who needs this?", - resident of Sevastopol Kateryna told.
Local realtors are also worried that possible hostilities near the Crimean borders will disrupt the tourist season, which is the only way for many locals to survive, for years to come.
"Who wants to rest when there are hostilities nearby. And if they cross to the Crimean territory? Then we will forget about tourism for a long time. We barely restored the season after the events of 2014, although there were no hostilities at that time. It is terrible to imagine what will happen now if the war starts. Then we will 100% turn into a military base and we can forget about the region", - the Crimean realtor shared her experiences.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV