5 Recent Video Reports from Crimea – All in One Place

Here are 5 of  my recent video reports from Crimea, so you don’t need to go anywhere, all here:

In Sevastopol, it’s Crimean IT guys versus western sanctions:

A  look at the legendary Artek in Crimea:

A look at how the information we receive about Crimea is almost entirely false:

Interviews with Ukrainians in Crimea:

An interview with a pro-Ukrainian woman in Crimea:

And lots more coming up soon! To support my work, click here! 

How the Western Press Got, and Get, it So, So Wrong on Crimea (A Brief Guide)

Where to begin? Well, where they began, with the BBC blasting in March 2014 –

Why is Crimea so dangerous?

Here’s a couple of my videos from Simferopol in March of 2014, where it was less dangerous, and more just friendly, and optimistic.

And the famous, ‘little green men’, of which we’ve read so much about in western press – here, of the time, March 2014 – 

“Little green men” or “Russian invaders”?BBC

Selfskies from the frontline: People of the Crimea pose up with the masked Russian invaders – Daily Mail

The Mail headline even by western press standards a mis-step, given that even the Telegraph of the time was writing (while rather amusingly referring to the city of Sevastopol as ‘Sebastopol’ throughout) – Ukraine crisis: ‘Polite people’ leading the silent invasion of the Crimea

Patrolling the streets with the leisurely but deliberate pace of British police constables on the beat, the men with machine guns in Ukraine appear to be there to show their presence − not to fight.

And in case you’re thinking the author of that, Roland Oliphant may have been partisan or something, his subsequent work shows all the standard western media memes on Crimea in place – from March of 2014 –

March 2014 – Ukraine crisis: On Crimea’s new border the Russian Army waits

Ukraine crisis: This is the de-facto annexation of Crimea

Since 2014, there has been a deliberate, and repeated conflation in western media of the ‘little green men’, and ‘self-defence forces’, with the aim being to make out that Crimea was ‘taken’ by ‘Russian forces’, and there was no such thing as ‘self-defence forces’.

The Daily Beast, from 2017 even –

LITTLE GREEN MEN

Putin’s Hidden Insurgency Tore Up Ukraine. Now It’s Coming for Your Inbox.

(Pictured, standard western portrayal of ‘little green men’ – here, BBC). 

Putin claimed ‘little green men’ in Crimea were pro-Russian locals. They were actually Russian forces laying groundwork for invasion—a playbook that’s taking over American media.

However, those of us who were here, know the difference. There were ‘little green men’, and this my GIF here, Crimea, March 2014 – 


They were clearly regular Russian troops, and with their black sea base, Russia was allowed to have 25,000 troops on Crimea. It was never a secret that these guys had been mobilised, so it’s a surprise when the west makes out it’s all surprised they’re Russian – Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, a key exponent of this. 

Yet, a couple of key points here. There were also local self-defence forces, clearly local, clearly not regular Russian military – my video here –

Both groups were perfectly approachable, filmable. And neither of them in any way played any kind of role in ‘forcing people to vote’ in 2014, as the west has led you to believe.

Ukraine crisis: David Cameron attacks Crimea vote ‘under barrel of a Kalashnikov

Britain warns Putin after ‘Kalashnikov referendum’ in Crimea

And on…

The subject of Crimean Tatars and the western press is so voluminous as to warrent its own entry, which will be. This touches on it, the Telegraph, October 2014 – 

Despair and euphoria in Crimea six months after Russian annexationDispatch: Tatars face campaign of repression after opposing annexation, while ethnic Russians rejoice at joining motherland

Other favourite themes in the western press are that building a bridge from one part of Russia to another is some sort of sinister and ominous act:

Two years after annexation, Putin seeks to bind Crimea by bridge to Russia – Reuters, 2015

Focus on the cost of the bridge, linking Russia’s mainland and Crimea:

Russia spends ‘fortune’ on bridge to Crimea –BBC, 2017

Predictions of doom –

PUTIN’S BRIDGE TO CRIMEA IS DOOMED TO COLLAPSE – Newsweek, 2017

Why Kerch May Prove a Bridge Too Far for Russia – Moscow Times, 2016

And the metaphors do go on, and on. 

A favourite new meme of the media is that someone things ‘aren’t going to plan’ with Crimea, it’s ‘not working out for Russia’, etc.

The Annexation of Crimea isn’t going as Planned – Foreign Policy, 2017 – in which there is a beyond tenuous linking of the trial of a Crimean Tatar extremist, and Crimea itself. A real stretch.

Lily Hyde: The annexation of Crimea isn’t going as planned

Another favourite, that Crimea is somehow, ‘hard to access’, is also a theme, see the BBC here, from 2017.

Do a search for flights to Crimea, from anywhere, on any search engine, see for yourself how many hundreds there are…

That Crimea is somehow ‘dangerous’, also a favourite Crimea-meme – even the UK’s official travel advice warns against visiting to Crimea and that ‘tensions remain high’…

Here we have leading New Zealand travel website Stuff.co.nz – in 2017 – telling us that active war is going in Crimea,

Fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed armed separatists is common in both the eastern and southeastern regions of the Ukraine, more specifically, the regions of Donetsk oblast, Luhansk oblast, and Crimea. Civilians continue to get caught up in the fighting.

No kind of war ever took place in Crimea as it rejoined Russia in 2014. I’m in Crimea just now, and don’t take my word for how calm Crimea is just now – listen to some Ukrainains here:

However, one thing’s for sure, the information war wages around, and on Crimea, and the west have chosen their weapon – lies. 

Crimea in March 2014 – The Real Story…

If every western expert who had an opinion on Crimea as it was in March 2014 had been there, the 27,000km2 territory would have been densely populated indeed. As it was, they weren’t there, the towns, mountains, beaches, of the 2.4 million populated peninsular, gifted to Ukraine in 1954 which no one really noticed at the time as it was all the Soviet Union, was much as it would have been.

I was there, drove in in a car with no numberplates (stolen in Odessa – as Euromaidan went on, a feeling of anarchy set across Ukraine, crime spiked).  For all the reports of access restricted, cited as reasons for western journalist non-presence there was no problem getting in, in a registrationless car, without any 1Rov1letters of journalistic accreditation – and I wasn’t working for any media at that time.

At the border – a pro-Russia blockpost. I got there late on February 28th, as less than a week after Ukraine’s former president, Yanukovych, fled (actually to Crimea), and an unelected, far-right government swept to power in Kiev, with policies directly opposed to the Russian culture ever the core of Crimea, Crimea rose up, mobilised in protest. Blockposts went up, airports, admin buildings were taken in a seeming mirror of Euromaidan, but one that stood entirely against that Kiev revolution. Protests against the western-driven Kiev revolution, of which anti-Russian sentiment was a centrifugal force, had been growing week on week, notably in Sevastopol, at that time a semi-autonomous city in an autonomous republic, of which some 60% were ethnic Russian.

I went there, wrote this for Politico magazine, all the text pretty much mine – can’t say I was delighted about the title or cover phtoos, and spent a couple of days on my first time in the place called in the Russian as ‘Krim’. I’d never been to Crimea under Ukraine, but aware that Crimea had never really considered itself such, 97% using Russian as their main language, a veneration of Soviet statues at that time crashing down in the fall-out of post-Euromaidan Ukraine.

I’d been to Russia a couple of times as a tourist, this felt very much like the third 1crimeatime. It also felt like it shared the premise of Euromaidan – a revolution against a power – but that it was the anti-Euromaidan in every other way. Whereas that had been a chaotic melange of protesters, increasingly fewer ‘peaceful’ as it went on, given a free rein by a forgiving media to run amok among admin buildings, a mass of wreckage, rubbish, damage, Crimea was an organised, clean, polite even revolution. The parliament at Simferopol in the hands of pro-Russia forces (a combination of locals and Russian troops stationed on the island having mobilised, seemingly with the goodwill but without any direct instruction from Moscow), the atmosphere on Saturday March 1st was calm, friendly even with locals turning out to support, and those men the western media got somewhat obsessed with referring to as ‘little green men’ largely happy to pose for photos –

crimea polite

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1crimea5Next, the 50 mile, hour and a bit drive to the port city of Sevastopol, some 340,000 to Simferopol’s 400,000 the main of some of 12 ports on the peninsular, and one founded in 1783 for the Black Sea Fleet synonomous with the city, Crimea itself. One of the key parties in Kiev’s hastily assembled post-Euromaidan government, neo-Nazi party Svoboda, had long had as one of their key policies the removal of this Black Sea fleet from Crimea, apoplexy at this prospect, with the city ever thus effectively a Russian naval port, a key fuel in the swift, decisive Crimea movement.

En route, another blockpost, but amiable, I breezed through again. A few representatives of the iconic ‘Night Wolves’ there, a sign saying ‘Where we are, Russia is’. Russian orthodox believerers holding a prayer session.

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Nearby, locals had parked their cars across the way to the military airport, explaining to me ‘we’re looking after our own‘, not wanting anyone getting too close to those troops there, but again friendly, offering tea even.

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Then, Sevastopol itsself, the city awarded hero status due to its 250 day battle against the Nazis in WWII, its liberation from them in 1944. Scenes of almost surreal serenity admits reminders of the backdrop of turmoil – petrol prices going up as Ukraine’s hryvnia collapsed, as canoeists paddled –

Crimea petrol

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Then, Sevastopol the city, as evening fell, and thousands of locals headed down to the central square for a concert, speeches, the referendum already brought forward from May to March 16th, now in just two weeks, crowds out to show their colours, hearty Russian music, seemingly a mass exhalation of relief that Russia, actually just a couple of kilometres over the sea from Kerch, was throwing them a lifeline from what was a Ukraine sinking into crisis.

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The scenes were those of pure, unabridled joy, I remember speaking to people at the time, countless telling me the same thing, or variations – ‘Crimea was never really Ukraine’, ‘we put up with Ukraine before, but now we can’t’, ‘we want to go back home to Russia’. There was a huge feeling, a mass exhalation, a love for Russia never able to express itself in this way before suddenly let out. A cry out to Russia to come and take them, a confidence that this could happen. The concert that night, the most emphatically Russian to ever be rendered. First up, a choir of sailors giving delivering a merry rendition of power pop-shanty –

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Then, Russian folk music, supercharged, delivered with gusto, roared along by crowd chants of ‘Spasibo’ and ‘Rossiya’!

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Looking, roaring on – a crowd of locals of all ages, veterans of a certain age –

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A panoply of placards, posters on display – Crimea had a lot it wanted to say –

Crimea is a City of Russian Sailors

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Sevastopol doesn’t surrender!

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We are against the destruction of historical monuments – 
1crimea23Save Sevastopol from Nazism!!!
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Sevastopol is against fascism 

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Kharkov – hang in there!

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Here, a jaunty Russian van, as everything seemed to suddenly be in Russian colours –

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There’s no question there was heavier hardware than a transit van. Russian military presence has never been in question, the fact is there were Russian troops on the island peninsular anyway. Along with locals, they mobilised, and there’s no question that’s exactly what the populace of Crimea wanted.

Later on, I film this –

Earlier, in Sevastopol, the night had wound down, the crowd dispersing into the night, believing that better was to come, Russia was to come.

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Locals here, done out in Russian colours, guard the admin building in Sevastopol to prevent signature Euromaidan style occupation, which had notably placed a poster of WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, reviled in Russia, in Kiev’s central government building.

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If more western journalists had been there to see this, feel this, so much of the nonsense we’ve all read about Crimea and its ‘annexation’ in the last year could have been averted.

Leaving, the blockpost guards, locals in jeans, asked e about my cat. And that was that – Crimea, early March 2014

More to come soon….