August 8, 2022

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7:36 am: Russians on holiday in Crimea

Alexandra Rumyantseva is sunbathing on a beach on the outskirts of Sevastopol, trying to keep the news of a Russian attack on Ukraine out of her mind when suddenly a Russian fighter jet slices through the sky. “I can’t say we’re completely relaxed,” admits the 31-year-old, a charity leader who came from St. Petersburg with her husband and two young sons. “If we feel things are going badly, we go back.” Like her, thousands of Russians spend their holidays on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which in 2014 was linked to the Russian military’s rear base for attacks on Moscow and Ukraine.

Teenagers jumping off cliffs into the sea, sailing bare-chested with beer in hand and grilling over open fires give this holiday an air of summer casualness, despite the fact that the front is not so far away. 300 or 400 km north of Sevastopol, fighting is a daily reality. This port city belongs to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, whose ships, stationed at sea, fire on Ukrainian territory every day. Civilian air links to Crimea have also been suspended since late February due to nearby clashes.

On the other side of the border, it is difficult for Ukrainians to imagine such a beach holiday. During the night from Monday to Tuesday, the seaside resort of Zatoka near Odessa was bombed. If no death is to be grieved, material damage is more important.

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