Press TV, Berdyansk
While Russia is slowly gaining control of the Donbas region of Ukraine, our correspondent Johnny Miller reports from the town of Berdyansk which was taken by Russia without a fight in the early days of the war.
Berdyansk is a seaside tourist town in the Russian-controlled southeastern part of Ukraine. Its citizens are experiencing a taste of what it is like to be Russian.
Shops and cafes accept both Ukrainian and Russian currency, SIM cards are only distributed with the Russian calling code.
In a school foyer, photos were being taken for the Russian passports that are being offered to the town’s residents.
I found the teachers here to be pro-Russian.
While Russia highlights the support it has from the local population, the west claims there is no support in Ukraine for the military operation.
The truth, like much of this propaganda war, lies somewhere in the middle.
To understand Russia’s war aims, it’s helpful to look at a linguistic map of the country.
Crimea, which Russia annexed 8 years ago, is overwhelmingly Russian-speaking, as is the eastern region of Donbas. The more Russia pushes westward and north from Crimea, the less support Russia will have from the local population.
I asked people how they felt about their new governors, but not a single person would speak to me on camera.
The pro-Russians are worried about reprisals from Ukrainians. The pro-Ukrainians are worried about the authorities.
Many Ukrainians have also fled not only the war but the Russian rule, tipping the balance of the population in cities like this in favor of those cherishing a Russian government.
Some send threats to those who choose to work with the authorities.
No matter their political views, it’s a nervous time for all civilians here. The economy of the town is not good as there are no tourists anymore.
There is also the threat of a Ukrainian insurgency.