Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told the Glavcom news agency that Russia has now classified all information on economic activity in Crimea.
“[The Russian authorities in Crimea] have even classified all data on economic activity within Crimea. I understand that many people who held different positions there in 2014 have now realized that all the people who do something there are paratroopers from Russia,” the Ukrainian diplomat remarked.
He believes that maintaining internal stability in Crimea is more important for Russia than the issue of Crimea in general, because it is “a matter of religious and national balance”.
At the time of publication, neither the Russian government nor the Kremlin-controlled Crimean authorities have commented on Klimkin’s statement.
Recently Russia held a tender for an investigation to “assess the damage” supposedly done to Crimea between 1991 and 2014, the period when the currently annexed peninsula was under Ukraine’s control.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the occupation and annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.