As Ukrainian counter-attacks intensify, Murmansk steps up investments in occupied town Primorsk
Governor Andrei Chibis has paid another visit to Primorsk, the occupied Ukrainian town where Murmansk is investing heavily in local infrastructure.
In a video posted on Chibis’ social media, the governor is seen meeting with locals and visiting a hospital, a school and following up repairs of the town water supplies.
According to the governor, about 40 social objects have been under upgrade since Murmansk was requested by the Kremlin to take patronage for Primorsk about six months ago.
Carefully arranged photos and videos show smiling locals friendly tuned towards the occupiers.
Chibis himself argues that people in the town have become more positive.
“In this short period, peoples’ attitudes have significantly changed. Last time I visited, I saw that they were afraid [and] avoided contact […] Now however, many have approached me and thanked for help and requested more support,” he explains.
Several key government officials from the Kola Peninsula have been curating operations in Primorsk. During the past months, the town mayors of Kola and Alakurtti have been in charge.
In early September, Mayor of Alakurtti Aleksandr Samarin returned home north after a month on the occupied land.
In June, Murmansk Minister of Eduction Diana Kuznetsova visited kindergartens, schools and colleges in Primorsk town, as well as nearby Mariupol, Berdyansk and 13 local villages.
Shortly before Murmansk started to engage in Primorsk, regional governor Chibis was put on the EU’s sanctions list for deporting Ukrainian kids to his region.
The presence of Andrey Chibis and his local administrators in Primorsk might not last long. Ukrainian forces are stepping up counter-attacks on the Zaporizhzhia region and slowly retake occupied lands.
Over the last weeks, several attacks have taken place also against Primorsk. In late June, a missile attack struck the town center. Few days earlier, the Ukrainians reportedly managed to destroy a Russian military base in the area.
Murmansk is only one of many Russian regions that are following up investments and reconstruction works in occupied Ukrainian towns. Also the neighboring region of Arkhangelsk is heavily engaged in Ukraine, and spends several hundred million rubles on projects in the occupied town of Melitopol.
The far northern region of Yamal-Nenets AO has taken patronage for the town of Volnovakha in the occupied Donetsk region.
During an event in the regional Yamal-Nenets city of Novy Urengoy, Governor Dmitry Artyukhov was asked by a local whether it was was worth investing in Volnovakha considering the turbulent situation in the area.
The reconstruction plan will be fulfilled, Artyukhov responded.
“Only a person that has not himself been in the area can recommend a postponement of activities,” he underlined.
But the occupation forces also in Volnovakha are under growing pressure and the town might soon be retaken by the Ukrainians.
In late August, the Ukrainian Armed Forces showed off armoured Russian vehicles reportedly captured near Volnovakha.