Russians who flock to summer resorts in stolen Ukrainian territory every summer have been warned to reconsider this year as beaches have been turned into defensive lines.
Crimea was illegally annexed from Ukraine after Putin’s forces invaded in 2014 and has been deliberately built up as one of Russia’s prime ‘staycation’ destinations.
The sunny peninsula was already popular with holidaymakers from the likes of Moscow and St Petersburg and now receives millions of them every year after the Kremlin poured taxpayer money into state-run travel package offerings.
But Russian generals fear they may have to fight off a counterattack from Ukrainian forces hoping to retake the land on their country’s southeastern tip.
Aerial footage suggest reinforced trenches, anti-tank pits and barricades have been built in resorts spanning dozens of miles of seafront.
A resident of Yevpatoria said locals were told the works are part of ‘waterfront reconstructions’ which have nothing to do with the war.
Filming footage of the rapidly constructed trenches, he said: ‘This is how the seashore is being strengthened.
‘And what holiday season in Crimea can we talk about now?
“How does a tourist get to the sea if there are such trenches for 200 km [124 miles]?
‘It’s all ****ed up. And this is how it is now all over western Crimea.’
Mocking Putin’s promise of a quick and decisive victory in Kyiv more than a year ago, he added sarcastically: ‘Everything is clearly going according to plan.’
A resident of Chernomorskoye, some 50 miles west, said: ‘Why are there pits on the beach? Are we preparing for an attack from the sea?’
The chances of Ukrainian beach assaults on Crimea are currently low as Russia’s considerably larger navy continues to dominate the Black Sea.
However they could become more likely if the frontline continues to recede south and eastward towards Russian territory.
Ukraine reclaimed the key port city of Kherson in November and has been consistently landing attacks on the land bridge connecting Crimea to Russia.
The fighting is currently concentrated further north around cities seen to have strategic importance such as Bakhmut.
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