Russia is using COVID-19 in Crimea and Donbas to sever ties between the free territory of Ukraine and the temporarily occupied territory, as well as to worsen conditions for human contact, according to Oleksiy Reznikov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine.
He said this during the All-Ukrainian Forum "Ukraine 30. Coronavirus: Challenges and Responses" in Kyiv on Wednesday, February 10, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.
"Today the Russian Federation is complicating movement through checkpoints with temporarily occupied territories as much as it can. In particular, 16.5 million crossings through all checkpoints with temporarily occupied territories were recorded in 2019. In 2020, this was already 3.5 million crossings. Of these, there have been only 500,000 crossings since March 2020, when the pandemic spread. That is, three million in the first quarter of 2020 and half a million after the pandemic," Reznikov said.
In his opinion, these are the consequences of checkpoints being blocked by the invaders. At the same time, the official added, traffic on the temporarily uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border does not stop.
"In Donetsk or Luhansk, you can take a bus and get to the nearest border crossing in Luhansk region or Kharkiv region. That is, COVID-19 has nothing to do here," he said.
In addition, Reznikov recalled that from the beginning of the pandemic, Russia wanted to use the epidemic with the method of hybrid warfare. "Russia wanted to get the sanctions over its occupation of Crimea lifted and therefore it began to send so-called humanitarian troops of radiochemical and biochemical protection to various countries, and it was in Crimea that they collected aid, in particular, for Italy," he said.