Staunton, June 7 – The Russian occupation authorities in Crimea have justified all the problems residents of that Ukrainian peninsula have faced over the last four years by arguing that they are the result of the blockade, sanctions, and the difficulties of integrating the region into the Russian Federation.
As long as occupied Crimea was hermetically sealed off from the world, the occupiers had some success with those arguments; but the opening of the Kerch Bridge, which allows thousands of them to visit the Russian Federation is undermining the effectiveness of such arguments, Russian analyst Sergey Ilchenko says.
As a result, he says, the authorities in Crimea “like the knight at the crossroads,” must choose one of three possible approaches for the future: “closing the bridge so that people won’t be able to see Kuban realities, retire from office, or begin to work” in a serious way to improve things (svpressa.ru/society/article/200710/?nat=1&ntvk1_source=2435269709).
Last weekend alone, nearly 50,000 residents of Crimea crossed the bridge into Russia. Conversations with some of them, the commentator says, show that they were impressed by how good things were compared to what they have become used to in occupied Crimea. Ilchenko suggests that given such comparisons, they are likely to become far more demanding.
Consequently, if the occupation authorities don’t change course and bring real improvements in the lives of the people of Crimea, they will lose whatever support they now have. That could force Moscow to crack down even more harshly than it has, an approach that will likely increase the number of its opponents on the Ukrainian peninsula.