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 letters of journalistic accreditation – and I wasn’t working for any media at that time.
At the border – a pro-Russia blockpost. I got there…
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