Russian aviation prepares for military parade in Crimea despite COVID-19 pandemic
The Russian army continues to prepare for a military parade on May 9 in annexed Crimea, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the website of the Russian Defense Ministry, crews of aircraft and helicopters of naval aviation and air defense of the Russian Black Sea Fleet have begun to prepare flight shifts for the air part of the parade.
"During the first stage of training, pilots practice flying in pairs. Crews of aircraft and helicopters conduct training on keeping the interval between aircraft, as well as observing the established course, altitude and speed," the statement said.
According to the agency, the training involves Su-30SM multirole fighters, Su-24M front-line bombers, An-26 and Be-12 aircraft, Ka-27 and Mi-8 helicopters.
According to the press service of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, almost 60 units of aviation equipment will take part in the air part of the parade in the annexed Crimea. It is planned that Russian military aviation will fly over Sevastopol and Kerch.
In late April and early may, control flights and a dress rehearsal of the air part of the parade are planned.
In January, it was reported that in Sevastopol, Russian servicemen began training with World War II equipment for the victory parade on May 9.
Despite the coronavirus, the Russian military continues to conduct active exercises in Crimea. The General Staff of Ukraine, called the actions of Russian military in Crimea illegal.
In December 2019, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw its troops from the annexed Crimea and end the temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine.
Earlier, the representative of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Vadim Skibitsky claimed that in the annexed Crimea the number of Russian servicemen has grown 2.5 times over 6 years - from 10-12 thousand to 32.5 thousand people.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.