Threats of a Ukrainian counter-offensive have caused headaches for the pro-Russian leadership in Crimea.
Russia’s acting governor, Sergei Aksionov, now fears that the Russian army will not be able to defend the peninsula.
The leadership is now forced to enlist the help of more and more soldiers from paramilitary groups, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
The Ukrainian government continues to underline how important it is for Ukraine to take back the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia nine years ago. Last month, Tamila Tasheva, Ukraine’s envoy to the Crimean Peninsula, said in an interview with Politico that military means will be used if Russia does not voluntarily leave Crimea.
Volodymyr Zelenskyi has also said that Ukraine’s goal is to liberate all areas occupied by Russia, including Crimea. During Friday, the president’s advisor Mychajlo Podoljak wrote on Twitter that it would be a “defeat for democracy and victory for Russia” if Ukraine does not reclaim the peninsula.
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“Suffered from great losses”
The pro-Russian leadership in the Crimean peninsula is now beginning to worry about the situation, according to intelligence received by the British Ministry of Defence. In its daily update on the war in Ukraine, the ministry writes that it is forced to enlist the help of more and more soldiers from paramilitary groups.
“The main part of the Russian garrison, the 22nd Army Corps, is currently mostly stationed outside the peninsula and has suffered heavy losses,” it writes on Twitter.
The Ministry of Defense draws attention to the fact that since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has increasingly used “paramilitarization” – and that it is particularly important on the Crimean peninsula.
Main concern for the pro-Russian leadership
Several paramilitary groups have been given some form of “semi-official status” as reserve units in the Russian army. Russia’s governor-elect Sergei Aksionov wants to continue recruiting soldiers from paramilitary groups.
“He is likely also concerned about the ability of the regular army to defend the peninsula,” writes the British Ministry of Defence.
During the night of Thursday, Russia claimed to have shot down six drones over different parts of the peninsula. No one is said to have been injured, writes AFP and refers to a statement from Sergej Aksionov.