Murmansk strengthens ties with occupied Ukrainian territories
As Ukrainian forces advance eastwards to take back occupied lands, the Governor of the far northern Russian region goes in the opposite direction; to the occupied region of Zaporizhzhia.
Governor Chibis and his Murmansk region has been assigned with the task of assisting Primorsk, the town on the Azov Sea coast. Only few kilometers away is the port town of Berdyansk, and a bit further - Mariupol.
In a local TV report, Chibis is seen walking around in the town streets and visiting schools, healthcare and community centres.
“The governor meets with locals to hear about their concerns, and he is dealing with the problems,” the news reporter informs.
“Life has gotten better,” a local woman says.
Reportedly, Murmansk has sent a team of “some of its best surgeons” to the town.
Chibis is also seen handing over an ambulance, a tractor, bus and crane car to local authorities. He is reported to deal with repairs of the local water supply system, a municipal boiler and the reconstruction of a housing quarter.
When visiting the local school, the governor underlined that he expects to see the kids in his Murmansk region. “We will organize visits to the North, okay?” Chibis highlighted.
“We will help Primorsk with everything that it needs,” he added, the local news media reports.
The rosy propaganda report notwithstanding, there is dark gloom behind the visit of Andrei Chibis, the regional leader that is on international sanctions lists for his involvement in kidnapping children from occupied parts of Ukraine.
Murmansk has lost a big number of men in the war. According to Norwegian intelligence, the once powerful 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade is now reduced to only one fifth of its original pre-war capacity. Also the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in Sputnik is dramatically weakened.
Troops from the two brigades are today believed to be deployed in areas near Bakhmut, as well as along the Azov Sea.
During his visit to Primorsk, Chibis reportedly also travelled to Mariupol where he awarded medals to soldiers from the Kola Peninsula.
“For a long time, I talked with them about their families, about the support from the country and about how we are waiting for victory,” he says in a comment.
It is not the first time Chibis visits occupied parts of Ukraine. In early August 2022, he travelled to Donetsk where he met with Denis Pushilin, Moscow’s puppet leader of the area. He also visited Kharkov region, where several hundred troops from the Kola Peninsula are believed to have been killed during the first days of the onslaught.
Murmansk is only one of many Russian regions that have been given special responsibility for reconstruction and follow-up of occupied Ukrainian towns.
The aid provided to the occupied territories are not greeted by everyone in the Russian Arctic region. On the governor’s social media pages, locals complain that Chibis should rather focus on developing his home region.
“Bring your home areas in order! Here are no doctors, no equipment, nothing! This is only PR,” a local man writes in a comment about the governor’s visit to Primorsk.