A new update from Ukrainian military intelligence says individuals involved in the control of Ukrainian territory temporarily occupied by Russia are kickstarting an evacuation process as Ukrainian troops make dramatic advances around the country, pushing Russian soldiers out of occupied areas.
Although Russia took over the Crimean peninsula years before the February invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently reestablished that Ukrainian leaders aim for the liberation of the area from Russian control, along with any other territory belonging to the country that Putin’s forces temporarily occupy. “Ukraine is returning its own,” Zelenskyy said last month. “And it will return the Kharkiv region, Luhansk region, Donetsk region, Zaporizhzhia region, Kherson region, Crimea, definitely our entire water area of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov – from Zmiinyi Island to the Kerch Strait. This will happen. This is ours. And just as our society understands it, I want the occupiers to understand it, too. There will be no place for them on Ukrainian land.”
As for Russian occupation leadership, Ukrainian military intelligence says they are moving their families back into territory within Russia. “Successful actions of the defenders of Ukraine force the so-called authorities of the temporarily occupied Crimea and the south of our country to urgently resettle their families to the territory of the russian federation,” an update says. Individuals covered by the report include local officials, FSB personnel, and military commanders. (The FSB was identified as a successor agency to the KGB. It deals with covert security operations in service of the Russian government.) Those groups “are secretly trying to sell their homes and to urgently evacuate their relatives from the peninsula,” per the recent Ukrainian update. Individuals running the local Russian occupation of Crimea are also imposing restrictions on the population, including a ban on selling or purchasing housing and new limits on travel across the Crimean bridge.
Limiting the ability of the local population to sell their own houses would no doubt assist with keeping up the appearance of Russian stability, despite developments like a semi-recent strike on the Saky airbase in Crimea, where Ukrainian personnel wiped out Russian aircraft. Local leadership in Crimea on Putin’s side are also trying to limit the ability of the local population to obtain information about Ukrainian advances — something that could, of course, inspire them to try and leave. “Ukraine’s military intelligence reminds that all war criminals will be exposed and prosecuted for crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine,” the recent update said. Ukrainian personnel are obtaining high-profile success with reclaiming territory in the northeastern regions of the country, where Russian troops recently left Izium, which is in the Kharkiv region, and Kreminna, which sits in the Luhansk district. Izium was used as a focal point for Russian attempts to fully occupy the nearby Donetsk region in Ukraine.