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Fishermen in Yalta
Fishermen in Yalta
Benjamin Quénelle

SIMFEROPOL — One year after Russia annexed Crimea, oyster farmer Sergey Koulik is exultant about both the future and the past. "Russian Crimea means new markets, more business and state funding," he says. "Crimea's return to the mother country is a good history lesson for all of Europe."

Koulik owns the only oyster farm in the area, near Yalta, and wants to take advantage of the embargo the West imposed on Moscow in August 2014 on various European products, including seafood. "Since then, restaurants in Moscow and Saint Petersburg haven't stopped calling me," he says. "We're going to start to produce on an industrial scale."

The oyster farmer has already invested $2 million and expects to be granted public loans from Moscow for another $2 million. "When we switched from Ukraine to Russia, we moved from a poor country to a rich country," he says with enthusiasm.

Since Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, many local companies have received help. "Moscow has been investing a lot in the peninsula," says Alexander Bassov, head of the Crimean Chamber of Commerce. "Like a real mother, it would sacrifice itself to help its child."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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