“Explosions and plumes of smoke” .. What is happening in Crimea?

An ammunition depot in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, was severely damaged in the latest developments in the region, which has been the subject of dispute and international controversy over the past, according to the Washington Post, citing sources. wash. years.

The newspaper quoted a Ukrainian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, that the explosions were carried out by Ukrainian special forces operating behind the main front lines.

These same forces are believed to be responsible for the explosions that caused significant damage at Russia’s Saki airbase in Crimea last week, in a move seen as a shift in Ukraine’s strategy.

Satellite images show damage from explosions at the Russian airbase

Satellite images showed several Russian warplanes destroyed after a series of explosions hit a Russian air base in southwestern Crimea earlier this week, Axios reported.

Russian media reported on Tuesday that the authorities appointed by Russia in the Crimea region are investigating the possibility of a second attack at another weapons depot.

The authorities in the region stated that a fire broke out in a warehouse near the town of Dzankoy, in the north of the region, causing the explosion of ammunition inside.

Photo showing explosions in the warehouse on Tuesday

The Washington Post cites Videos From social media, which it could not independently verify, it showed plumes of thick smoke interspersed with rapid explosions.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the powerful blasts damaged nearby buildings, power lines and train tracks and prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents, adding that no one was seriously injured, while Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-backed president of Crimea, confirmed two injuries. in the explosions, and declared an emergency in the region.

But what is the meaning of Crimea? And what might be necessary to focus on especially in light of the recent explosions?

History

The New York Times compares the peninsula with the “diamond” hanging on the southern coast of Ukraine, which is distinguished by its mild climate, sandy beaches, wheat fields, as well as berry and peach plantations.

However, it was its sensitive strategic location that drew Russia’s eyes to the invasion of Ukraine.

Crimea is connected by a bridge that serves Moscow’s Black Sea fleet and a vital link to the supply chains that support the thousands of Russian soldiers who today occupy large parts of southern Ukraine.

The paper says Russian President Vladimir Putin considers Crimea a “holy land” because Catherine the Great declared it part of Russia in 1783, the part that paved the way for Russia to become a major naval power.

During Soviet rule, the leader, Nikita Khrushchev, granted the territory to Ukraine in 1954, and because Ukraine was not part of the Soviet Union at that time, not much changed on the ground.

But the collapse of the Soviet Union after four decades changed the equation, according to the newspaper, “making Russia lose its essence”, and Putin used it as an excuse for his decision to annex the region to Russian rule in 2014. justify.

Military importance

At the start of the war that Russia launched against Ukraine last February, Russian soldiers from Crimea seized large parts of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, two of the main regions occupied by Russia in southern Ukraine. according to the New York Times.

On the other hand, Crimea is a logistical support base that allows Russian forces to maintain the territories they have occupied, including two railways that Russia relies on to transport heavy military equipment.

Crimea has been a center for launching overflights and exposing the Ukrainian reality, in addition to the many long-range missile attacks launched from the peninsula.

Crimea is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which helps Moscow dominate the sea and the shipping embargo that has crippled Ukraine’s economy.

The peninsula is characterized by its sandy beaches and mild weather

The peninsula is characterized by its sandy beaches and mild weather

Paradise in the middle of the frost

For Russia, with a fifth of its area above the Arctic Circle, the climate of the city of Yalta in Crimea is moderate.

“Russia needs her heaven,” wrote Prince Grigory Potemkin, general and lover of Catherine the Great, when he urged her to claim the land.

Crimea was a holiday destination for Russian tsars and Politburo chiefs, and before the Western sanctions that followed the annexation of the peninsula to Russia, the peninsula was a place where the wealthy of Eastern Europe went to relax and party .

Ties with Russia

In the speech announcing the annexation of Crimea to Russia, Putin said that the region “has always been an essential part of Russia, in our hearts and minds.”

But “The New York Times” indicates that he took an eclectic approach to telling history, during the past centuries the Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns and Mongols claimed the Crimea.

Considered one of the most prominent groups to have been subjected to Russian persecution in recent decades, the Crimean Tatars are Muslims who came from Eurasia in the thirteenth century.

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, paved the way for the brutal killings of the Crimean Tatars, and used his descendants much as Russia is protesting in its war today, according to the newspaper’s expression, as he accused them of that they were accomplices of the Nazis and forcibly deported them out of the region in an operation that resulted in the deaths of thousands of them.

Follow Al-Hurra’s interactive story about the Crimean Tatars via this link.

In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev allowed them to return to the peninsula, and statistics indicate that before the annexation of the territory to Russia, the Tatars made up 12 percent of the Crimean population, or about 260 thousand people.

The overwhelming majority of the “Crimean Tatars” opposed Russia’s annexation of the region, and the Supreme Council of the Crimean Tatars then voted in favor of establishing an “ethnic and territorial autonomy” for the indigenous Muslim minority on settle the Black Sea peninsula.

In 2017, Human Rights Watch accused Moscow of repressing the Muslim minority “with the apparent aim of completely silencing dissent on the peninsula.”

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