HomeWorldThe Battle Over Crimea Could Trigger Putin’s Deadliest Rampage in Ukraine Yet

The Battle Over Crimea Could Trigger Putin’s Deadliest Rampage in Ukraine Yet

The main executioner of the Kremlin is inside Crimea is not modest about the fact that she slaughtered some 70,000 of her neighbors.

“We need a ruthless, unceasing fight against the snakes that hide in secret,” Rosalia Zemlyachka told the Sevastopol newspaper. Vremja. “We must destroy them, sweep them away with an iron broom, a sea of ​​blood, everywhere.”

Russian opposition leader Sergei Melgunov, who witnessed Zemlyachka’s massacre, said the lampposts of Crimea’s largest city are “richly decorated with wind-swaying corpses”. In the nearby resort town of Feodosia, Melgunov and other officials said they saw Zemlyachka claiming the town’s resources as burial pits. As the shafts became clogged with tortured soldiers and civilians, Melgunov added, she tied her victims to planks, roasted them alive in ovens or drowned them in barges in the black sea.

“It’s a pity to waste cartridges on it,” said Zemlyachka.

To be sure, Western leaders who is now grappling with whether Ukraine’s intention to retake Crimea should be encouraged and funded may not be familiar with the Kyiv-born secret policewoman known to the locals as Demon.

But in Moscow — a century after Zemlyachka oversaw the Bolshevik extermination of a population nearly three times the size of Key West at the end of the Russian Civil War — the demon remains the darling of Russian President Vladimir Putina superstar at KGB headquarters, and the poster creep for what Russia can do if Ukraine marches on Crimea.

“Ukraine will be liquidated” are the words Putin’s celebrated primetime shill and alleged war criminal Vladimir Solovyov uses on television almost every night to revive Zemlyachka’s spirit.

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“Russia’s military mentality is always annihilation,” says a veteran Kremlin specialist who spent years in Moscow and remains attached to a Western intelligence agency. “What’s remarkable since the fall of Kherson is that we’ve done that never rather, Russian politicians and propagandists have heard a campaign of terror on a level reminiscent of the Bolshevik Revolution. They’re off the map.”

People who arrived from Kherson on October 21, 2022 are waiting for further evacuation to the depths of Russia at Dzhankoi railway station in Crimea.

Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

None of this surprises 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Oleksandra Matviichuk.

“Russians can tolerate their war criminals winning,” Matviichuk told The Daily Beast at a recent dinner in Paris. “Russians cannot tolerate their war criminals who lose.”

Matviichuk, director of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, says her organization has so far inventoried more than 21,000 cases of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The desecrations at Bucha, Izium and Kherson are so horrific that they and other human rights lawyers are now begging UN member states to “develop a new definition of a war crime and a method for prosecuting them,” she says.

Olena Tregub is doing everything she can to make sure that Putin’s war criminals are losers. She is also a woman who knows her guns and ammunition. Tregub is an outspoken member of the Ukrainian government’s anti-corruption committee, and her job is to ensure that every penny of foreign aid and caisson weapons support a war effort that eventually unfurls her country’s flag over Crimea.

“We’re going big,” says Tregub. “We are taking back Crimea. This is the only way to punish Russia for Putin’s crimes in Ukraine.”

Glorious visions to fend off Russian imperialism for centuries stir the Ukrainian imagination. “The fortifications of the Syvash are so strong that the Red High Command has neither the men nor the machines to breach them,” Vremja assured his readers in 1920. “All the armed forces of the Soviets cannot frighten the Crimea.”

Indeed, General Pytor Wrangel, the German-Baltic commander in charge of the defense of Crimea, was so sure of victory that he created a new medal of honor, the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, an award later awarded to Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to be sent into space.

Back on Earth, French Lieutenant General and former NATO commander Michel Yakovleff says, “I’m not convinced that Ukraine should recapture Crimea.” In an interview with The Daily Beast under crystal chandeliers and murals of nude cherubs in the French Senate, the battle-hardened veteran of Operation Desert Storm and NATO’s campaigns in Bosnia and Kosovo has spent the past nine months with Ukrainian politicians and military strategists.

Antonovski Bridge, reportedly demolished to prevent Ukrainian troops from crossing the Dnieper River as Russian troops retreated to the left side of the river, is seen after the Russian withdrawal from Kherson, Ukraine on November 14, 2022. The only way of transportation from Kherson to Crimea was the Antonovski Bridge.

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“We are not sure how much of Crimea’s population would want to return to Ukraine,” warns Yakovleff. “An internationally approved referendum could be diplomatic to accommodate the thousands of Russians involuntarily brought in after the 2014 Russian annexation. There will be internal problems. Taking back Crimea could be a mixed blessing.”

The response from Andriy Yermak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, pretty much sums up Kiev’s position on which side ultimately controls Crimea. “Does anyone seriously think the Kremlin really wants peace?” he wrote on Twitter. “It wants obedience.”

But as the havoc drags on into the winter, the only certainty is that the Moscow Peninsula pizza or “stylish” refer to the Russian Riviera is the eye of a brewing storm between Ukraine and its western allies.

“We don’t offer policies,” says the Western intelligence agent. “We know how Russia operates, its military capabilities and capabilities. Most importantly, the Russians don’t care about losing, and they still have a lot of air power and other dirty tricks to terrorize Ukraine beyond bombs and missiles. Too many people find it difficult to accept that reality.”

The irony of the situation is palpable. “Russia has also been heavily entrenched in eastern Ukraine for eight years now,” he adds. “So it would actually be easier to recapture Crimea militarily than Donbas.”

Putin is defeated by what has become the most powerful army in Europe.

On the one hand, allowing Crimea to remain Russian and home to the Black Sea Fleet could be the sedative that calms Putin to make peace while retaining power. The intelligence analyst suggests that such a brokered peace will not last.

“Strategically get the Russians apart because you don’t want to give them time to rebuild and come back, which they will,” he says. “The longer you can force Russia to rebuild its army, the better Europe and the rest of the democratic world are.”

On the other hand, how much more Russian-induced trauma can Ukraine absorb? In 1933, at the height of Stalin’s enforced two-year terror famine Holodomor, Ukrainians were dying at a rate of 28,000 per day, out of a total death toll of nearly 4 million people. Yakovleff insists that history guarantees a Ukrainian victory this time.

“Putin is defeated by what has become the most powerful army in Europe,” says Yakovleff. “If Putin survives, he would be the only Russian leader to survive a defeat of this magnitude. His personal fate is sealed.”

On the other hand, Hanna Shelest, director of the Kyiv security and military analysis group Prism, has valid cause for concern. “I trained NATO officers at a war school,” she explains. “The only map of Ukraine was in my office. None of my students knew the distance between Crimea and the nearest NATO country. Eight years after Putin invaded Crimea, it’s the same,” Shelest added. “NATO has no strategic vision for Crimea.”

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