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Home News Russia starts to realize it can’t hold on to Crimea – interview with Refat Chubarov

Russia starts to realize it can’t hold on to Crimea – interview with Refat Chubarov

by nytime
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Crimean bridge, view from Russian-occupied Kerch

Crimean bridge, view from Russian-occupied Kerch

In an interview with NV Radio on Aug. 2, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov spoke about the explosions that have occurred over the past few days in Crimea, why the Kerch bridge is not operating, and whether there was an attack on Russian ships in the Black Sea.

NV: Fresh explosions in Simferopol region. Explosions thundered in Hvardiiske. What do you know about these incidents? Can you confirm them?

Chubarov: Drone attacks occur every day in Crimea. The occupiers are trying to hide the consequences as much as possible.

[On Aug. 1] there were explosions in near Sevastopol. The local gauleiter tried to convince everyone that a drone had been shot down after being electronically jammed and fell into a field. But experts very clearly figured out that one of the arsenals of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is located there.

Read also: Ukraine knocks out two critical bridges used by Russia to supply southern troops from Crimea – ISW

[On Aug. 2] in the morning there were similar explosions in the village of Hvardiiske, as it is now called, or Sarabuz by its historical name. It is close to Simferopol. There is an active military airfield. By the way, before the occupation of Crimea by Russian troops, it belonged to the Russian Black Sea Fleet – that is, they also used it even while Ukraine maintained sovereignty over the peninsula.

Also, there is an information skirmish in the public. Local representatives of the occupation structures say there are no consequences of this strike. We’re still finding out what really happened there. And the explosions occurred where the airfield is located.

NV: Again, traffic on the Crimean bridge has been halted. What is happening on it now? Are there long lines? Is there panic? What other routes can be used by those who decide to leave the peninsula? And what about the bridge itself? We remember that they have been trying to carefully repair it for a long time since the previous attack on it.

Chubarov: After these two explosions, which occurred on July 17, the bridge is very damaged, and everyone knows this. There are repairs going on. The occupiers first announced that they would repair everything by November, but then they were forced to add to that, clarifying that it would be by December 21 of this year.

Read also: Russian invaders ship out stolen Ukrainian grain via Mariupol and Crimea

They are really working there. Although there is traffic across the bridge, it is in alternating transit mode, where they [go] in one direction, then they wait, and then the other direction moves. The bridge has really already become crippled, since in addition to the fact that traffic is very limited, it is very often stopped, because the Russian occupiers are being as careful as possible.

As soon as there is any reason, they announce a halt to movement.

Now they are building barriers to prevent, as they think, an attack by surface drones on the bridge’s support structures. The bridge is operating in manual mode. Fewer people are trying to use it – that is, people trying to illegally enter Crimea from the aggressor’s territory – because they are already aware of the threats that await them on this bridge.

NV: Are the Russians managing to transport their goods across the bridge in this ad-hoc mode? It seems that the Crimean bridge has been closed more often than it has been open for the past few weeks.

Chubarov: They are trying to further mitigate this with a ferry service. They had an expectation that the bridge would be a target for Ukrainian forces.

In advance, in the spring, they restored their ferry crossing, which had not been working for a long time after they built this bridge. There are now six ferries running constantly, and sometimes they manage to add one or two more. They transport regular buses and passenger vehicles in order to unload the bridge a little.

Read also: Risks and Dangers at the Zaporizhzhia NPP

But they allow most of the cargo through the “alternative route” – which is what they call the corridor that they created from occupied Crimea through the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya oblasts to Rostov region. They are trying to disperse the load on the bridge.

NV: You have already mentioned Sevastopol, and explosions were heard there the day before. There may have been some blasts in one of the ammunition depots. Please tell us more about this incident. What exploded there, and how significant was it?

Chubarov: There needs to be additional confirmation here by objective means like satellite images. This can only be done by our special services. I think we will soon get confirmation from experts of what has happened.

Experts say that one of the arsenals of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is located where the explosions occurred.

NV: Explosions in the Crimea are becoming consistent and regular. Can you assess the consequences of the blasts in Crimea over the past month? Because July on the peninsula was very “hot.”

Chubarov: The damage to the bridge is a very significant result. It has significantly worsened the logistics capabilities of the occupiers, primarily with regard to their ability to ensure the reliable movement of various military cargoes and ammunition. These two attacks on the bridge are very important in terms of weakening the occupiers and reducing their military potential in occupied Crimea.

To this we can add the destruction of very large warehouses.

Read also:

On July 19, if I’m not mistaken, secondary detonations lasted more than two days in the Kirovsky District. This is far away, in an area away from noticeable communications, in the Crimean foothills. They [built] an ammunition depot, but, you see, they didn’t manage to hide it even that far away.

And then similar warehouses were destroyed in the Dzhankoy district, in the village of Volnoye, an oil storage facility in the village of Oktyabrskoye.

I’m only talking about objects that are directly related to the capacities of Russian troops – ammunition, fuel, equipment, and the like.

But, in addition to such war materiel losses, it is also necessary to evaluate the morale significance. After all, they were sure that Crimea was “primordial Russian territory,” as the Kremlin convinced them of this. They were sure, as they were assured, that no one could encroach on the Crimea.

But when all this happened, they realized that they could not defend Crimea.

This realization is also worth a lot.

First of all, for the mood of our people, who make up hundreds of thousands of residents of Crimea. These are both Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians who remain loyal to the Ukrainian state. Each of these strikes raises their spirit and strengthens hopes for the liberation of Crimea, confidence in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and in the Ukrainian state as a whole, that they would not be abandoned.

NV: To what extent have these explosions become commonplace for ordinary inhabitants of the peninsula?

Read also: Crimea’s full liberation only way to guarantee Middle East security, says top security official

Chubarov: I don’t know how common it is for them. I’d have to be in their shoes.

But with the people we’re talking to… They’re expecting better results, I think. For example, when the Kerch bridge was blown up, one of my sources in Crimea, said: “Listen, well, we have been waiting for a long time, October 2022 and now July. When will the next blow be, in 2024?” He asks me like this, as if in jest, but it speaks of their mood.

They want to see results as soon as possible in the form of the liberation of Crimea. It is clear that these are expectations, the desire of people, but they also understand how difficult it is – every step by our forces, every [liberated] meter. We just need to know that these people are looking forward to that.

NV: The other day there were reports of the liberation of the Crimea before Christmas. UK troops are preparing a Ukrainian special forces brigade to de-occupy the peninsula. This slogan “liberate Crimea before Christmas,” what do Crimeans themselves feel about it? What do they say about it in Crimea?

Chubarov: In Crimea, everyone realizes that liberation is inevitable. This is the absolute truth. And everyone, based on their expectations or they behaved, is already trying to adjust accordingly.

Read also: What Russia could do in the Black Sea

We have already spoken about those hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for liberation. But do not forget that there are more than a million people who have appeared in the Crimea who were convinced that this is now their land. They invested their resources there and built life plans based on living there.

And now, realizing that this is all collapsing before their eyes, they, of course, are in great disarray. Not in a panic, but they are trying to take the next steps as carefully as possible. We are trying to explain to them: it is best if they leave Crimea without waiting for the return of the Ukrainian military and authorities, and the restoration of our sovereignty. This would be their best option.

NV: What is Russian propaganda saying after the explosions in Hvardiiske?

Chubarov: The first official announcements appeared even before my [conversation] with you. Of course, they say that these were attempted strikes, but “these drones were destroyed by air defense forces and there was no significant damage.”

But I’m saying that we need to wait for confirmation by objective means. I think we’ll get it in a few hours.

The local occupation authorities make full use of two tools. Firstly, they are using every means of propaganda they can to instill into the population that what the Armed Forces of Ukraine are doing is having no effect and will have no effect.

Then, as an element of blackmail, they repeat what they are saying in the Kremlin: “if there is something more serious that threatens Crimea, then Russia will use more powerful weapons,” hinting at nuclear weapons.

We need to prepare for the fact that the closer our armed forces get to the Crimean Peninsula, the more actively they will try to force the message at the international level – that the advance of Ukrainian forces contributes to escalation of the war; and any direct attempt to liberate Crimea could threaten global peace.

Read also: Russian occupiers in Ukraine’s Crimea claim 13 drones attacked peninsula overnight

And we will hear more and more voices from European politicians – not leading ones, but ones that the Russians will have recruited and paid for this work. And there will be more voices in the world directed at demanding that Ukraine stop, otherwise there will be a threat to the whole world. Therefore, we need to prepare for this and prevent these voices from capturing public opinion among our partners.

NV: The Russian Defense Ministry reported an attack on two Russian warships in the Black Sea with naval drones 340 kilometers from Sevastopol. The Ukrainian Internal Ministry has already said that Ukraine is not involved in the attack. How was this news received in Crimea itself? What did this attack look like through the eyes of Crimeans?

Chubarov: The ships were 340 kilometers from their base of deployment in Sevastopol. There were two warships – the Sergey Kotov and the Vasily Bykov. This attack is also confirmed by independent means from our international partners.

Read also: Ukraine’s SBU involved in both Crimean Bridge attacks, confirms National Security Secretary

These ships are probably elements of the Russian plan that they want to implement in the Black Sea in the near future – to totally blockade our ports from access to shipping lanes. They have so far not succeeded. But they are not abandoning this plan, and they are stepping up air strikes. And they want to blockade [Ukraine] from the sea.

These attacks have shown that there may be even more radical actions or radical countermeasures. And Russia must prepare for the fact that its ships will be destroyed.

Read also: Russia concentrates Black Sea fleet following drone attacks – OK South

I am absolutely not a soldier, and it is up to the military to decide, but this vector must now be strengthened in order to prevent the absolute dominance of the Russian navy in the Black Sea.

They must be absolutely sure that as soon as they move to the final phase of this program, when they have collected enough warships to block the sea lanes with their forces, they will immediately be rebuffed. If that happens, I don’t think they will risk losing their ships.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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