The Russian Federation unleashed a full-scale war in Ukraine almost two months ago. All this time, the Crimea has been the base of the Russian army for the destruction of Ukrainian cities and civilians. Missiles launched from the occupied peninsula reach even Western Ukraine.
Russian propaganda is doing everything possible to get the locals to support the war unleashed by the Putin regime.
In all Russian and local media, the so-called "special operation" is presented solely in a propaganda vein: the fight is against the Nazis, civilian Ukrainians are not touched, Ukraine is shelling itself and stuff like that.
"There are two worlds: virtual and real. Virtual is television, social networks, radio and newspapers, that is, what the authorities are pumping into us. Real is what people actually say and think about. These worlds are not identical. Do not think that people in the Crimea have lost the ability to think critically, even taking into account the enormous pumping with propaganda. Of course, there are those who talk about victory at any cost, reaching Kyiv and Lviv and wiping Ukraine off the face of the earth. But there are those who oppose war in any form and manifestation, those who want the operation to be completed as soon as possible, and even those who sincerely wish victory for Ukraine", - resident of occupied Simferopol Halyna told our publication.
In addition, she notes, the economy is on the side of the opponents of the war. Prices for many goods in the Crimea, which were already among the highest in Russia, have now skyrocketed.
"And the growth does not stop. Plus, there is a deficit for some goods. All this is on the eve of the tourist season, for which the local residents had (and still have) very high hopes and plans. In general, awareness of the negative consequences of the war is gradually beginning. People are thinking and asking questions", - she notes.
OstroV spent several weeks talking with residents of the Crimea of various political views in order to understand how strong the support for the war unleashed by Putin is.
"Win at all costs"
“We ourselves are well aware that this is not a special operation, but a real war. We are reading the news on the Internet, we are not completely “dark” here. So what of this? What does it change? We support the actions of our president and the military leadership. We need a win at all costs, and we will achieve it. And you better start thinking about how to live under Russia and not quarrel with us. No one will accept defeat in our country, do not count on it", - one of the Crimean realtors Serhiy tells OstroV.
Previously, he had never had radical views and even to some extent opposed the annexation of the Crimea in 2014. But now his opinion has changed dramatically.
According to him, the last two months have shown the correctness of holding a "referendum", and if Russia had not seized the peninsula, it would have been worse here than in the Donbas.
When asked why he has such thoughts, he confidently claims that all TV channels talk about it..
“Look what is happening with Kharkiv, Mariupol and other Russian-speaking cities. This is all being done on purpose to destroy all Russians and build new Ukrainian cities on the ruins. I am not even talking about the biological laboratories that were based there. There is no doubt that this is true", - he says.
Arguments that Ukrainian cities are being destroyed by Russian missiles and Grads are not even taken into account.
"You are pumped up with propaganda. But it will all be over soon, and you will see the truth yourself", - he said.
Pensioner from Sevastopol Raisa, who has been quite critical of the Russian authorities on the peninsula for all 8 years (although she supported them in the “referendum”), also fully supports the “special operation”.
"A special operation or a war - what is the difference? If Ukraine was going to attack Russia under the protectorate of the USA, then what else could we do? After all, everything is already known. The facts are obvious. You were not just pumped up with weapons and propaganda and set against us. And now you do not like that missiles are flying. As the saying goes, you got what you had been fighting for. We do not wish any evil to the Ukrainians, we just want to destroy all the Nazis so that we all live in peace and harmony", - she told.
According to her, all the friends with whom she communicates in the city are of the same opinion.
“Now it is definitely only victory. We will not be satisfied with anything else”, - she says.
Against the war, but "shelling the Donbas"
Perhaps one of the most common justifications for the war is that Ukraine allegedly “bombed” the occupied Donbas for eight years and “killed civilians there”. The OstroV journalist has heard this statement both from radical supporters of the war and from those who advocate an early peace.
“Well, is this not true? Of course, I understand everything, war is very bad, especially with Ukraine. But what has happened in the Donbas all these years? Ukraine did not specifically deny such facts. If you wanted to live in peace and harmony, you would have come to an agreement with the authorities of Donbas a long time ago. But, apparently, the war supported by the West and the USA was beneficial to you. I am against the war, and I do not particularly support the special operation. Obviously, it did not go the way it intended. We need to sit down at the negotiating table and negotiate", - 35-year-old bank employee from Yevpatoria Svetlana told OstroV.
According to her, the local media say that Ukraine itself refused to comply with the Minsk agreements, which "were aimed at peace," so Vladimir Putin was forced to launch a "special operation".
In this case, a small nuts-and-bolts course helped "get through" to Svitlana that it was Russia that occupied the Donbas in 2014, and the Minsk agreements were imposed by Putin to establish control over Ukraine.
"Maybe you are right. But we are now where we are. The war must end. And there can be no winners here. Ukraine has also messed things up. Everyone needs to calm down and sign a peace treaty that will not suit anyone completely, but it will end the bloodshed on both sides. By the way, most of my friends agree with this. We are the young generation who do not want to live during the war, no matter how it is justified", - Svitlana noted.
Health worker from occupied Simferopol Konstantin told in a commentary to OstroV that he had always been out of politics and advocated the peaceful coexistence of Ukraine and Russia. But recent events have forced him to take a different look at what is happening in Ukraine.
He notes that if earlier he was able to ignore the news related to Ukraine, now they have flooded the entire information space, including social networks and work chats.
“Are you sure that everything is exactly as you see it? There are a lot of loud statements and very little reliable information. It is just that the residents of the “LNR” and “DNR” have been under pressure there for 8 years, and no one empathized with them so much.The Donbas was bombed for 8 years, and you did not give a f*ck. And now only lazy people do not make monsters out of Russians. I do not justify either side. It is just that while Donbas was being pressured, no one spoke so critically of you. You were also silent, and I have not seen a storm of criticism, empathy and opposition", - he said.
His wife (also a medical worker) told OstroV that a lot of soldiers wounded in a "special operation" are being brought to Crimea, and this does not contribute to the high support of the local population for the war against Ukraine.
"We see all this. Such a number of wounded cannot be hidden. Many hospitals and departments have been converted to provide medical care to servicemen injured in a special operation. But they take to the streets and are discharged from hospitals, it is all in the air. Nobody wants their children and husbands to die or become disabled. We like a peaceful, slow paced and resort life here. Crimea and Sevastopol are not created for a military atmosphere. These are the sea, mountains, sun and resort. We must end the war, people should not suffer. What has already been done is enough”, - Iryna told.
Under what conditions should the war be ended, she answered without hesitation: "On the terms proposed by Vladimir Putin, of course".
Glimpses of Hope
But not everything is as simple as it might seem at first glance. Those Ukrainians who do not support the war and are waiting for Ukraine to win remained in the Crimea. Yes, their voice is weaker and perhaps, there are fewer of those who advocate the continuation of hostilities and the destruction of our country. But they are there and should not be forgotten. They are asking for it themselves.
Native of Sevastopol Maria, who was forced to stay after the occupation of the peninsula, asked OstroV to fully publish her position on the war in Ukraine.
"You cannot imagine what a hole people have in their heads here. I am ashamed that I am here, in my native Sevastopol, I have been ashamed for 8 years already. If it were not for my parents and family, I would have left long ago (my dad died in 2018, he was seriously ill, and 40 days after he died, my son was born). I do not make excuses, on the contrary, I plan to finally leave this place at the first opportunity. You know, I constantly think about all Ukrainians. And I mentally with all the people in shelters, on the battlefield and in hospitals with the wounded. I read, watch everything and cry every day. And I dream of being with my countrymen, in my homeland.
I do not know, maybe my words will seem too pretentious to you… But you know me, I went to the Ukrainian language olympiads at school for a reason. I would really like to help Ukraine, at least with something. But I can only do it with my pray and my faith in victory. I have several friends who lived in Irpin. No more. I do not know what to say to support you and all the Ukrainians! Just know that I am with you. I really want people to be happy and Ukraine to flourish.
Ukrainians are an incredible nation. You know, I never thought that Shevchenko times would be relevant again. It is so beautiful and so admirable that the literature and history of previous centuries is confirmed by the present situation. I believe with all my heart that "Everything will be Ukraine"! I never believed in anything so much.
You know, if such a situation happened in the Russian Federation, people would break down in the first three days. And of course, no one would stay in their house and, of course, would not return later. Yes, this is a hallmark of Russians, and even more so of Crimeans - to pretend that everything is in order, and we live on.
Maybe it is trite, but I have had a manicure with the Ukrainian flag already for a month now. And I see that people notice it. But only three people stealthily started a conversation with me, and two of them are my acquaintances. I mean, people do not even want to talk about it. Indeed, it is as if nothing is happening. These planes fly many, many times every day. Kazachka (a district in Sevastopol, - ed.) is next to me. Their training is heard throughout the entire district. And you will not believe how many people around me are proud of it. This is a boundless shame on Sevastopol and Crimea".
She notes that she is far from alone in this position, it is just that most people are afraid to talk about it out loud. Given Russia's repressive laws, even a social media post can be grounds for arrest.
Some Crimeans have found a way out of the situation and deliberately make fake pages on social networks with other people's photos in order to write comments, share information and their opinions with those who "care". They even opened their own information front, where they try to convey objective information to local residents.
"And it works. Constant dropping wears away a stone. When you calmly communicate with people, give them numbers, photos and facts, they begin to think and stop foaming at the mouth to tell myths about "win at all costs" and "ukrofascists". Thus, I found several like-minded people in my native Simferopol. Yes, not all of them are unequivocally pro-Ukrainian, but they unequivocally oppose war in any form. We united and "work" according to the following scheme: we find a page of some Crimean with propaganda slogans, and enter into a discussion very carefully from different accounts, write comments, etc. The main thing is to control yourself and not go into personal - then it can work", - Crimean resident Mykhailo told OstroV.
According to him, after almost two months of the war, the degree of euphoria among many Crimeans has already subsided and the stage of an irreversible hangover begins.
Pensioner from Sevastopol Volodymyr also speaks about this. He did not support the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, but was forced to stay due to health problems. All these years, he mentally condemned the actions of the Russian authorities in the Crimea and Donbas, but a full-scale war was "the last straw".
He brought flowers to the monument to Taras Shevchenko in Sevastopol on the first day of a full-scale war.
"And this was not the first fresh bouquet. However, after some time, the security forces took all the flowers somewhere, and also strengthened the protection of the monument and the square near it. I stayed there for a couple of hours and during this time, I saw people who came there for a reason. This was evident from their timid glances, sad and contemplative look. I knew that I was not alone in my views. But this war showed and even surprised me: these are not thousands of people, but not just a few. Not everyone wants the return of Ukrainian power to Crimea, but they definitely do not want to kill Ukrainians and destroy cities. According to my observations and conversations heard in the markets and city streets, there are more and more supporters of the end of the "special operation" every week. This is not yet an unambiguous condemnation of the war, but already something. Believe me, everything was much worse at first", - he said.
Already after Ukrainian missiles sank the MoskvaRussian missile cruiser, which was based in Sevastopol and was the pride of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Volodymyr contacted OstroV and told that the talk that "maybe it was not necessary to start all this" became a little more.
“This is a strong blow specifically for the people of Sevastopol. Today I walked around the market and the city center, and heard some people quietly talking about how terrible and sad it is that the ship, our pride, was sunk. It was a symbol of the fleet and the city to some extent", - he noted.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV