Three British veterans of World War II Arctic convoys are due to arrive in the key Crimean port city of Sevastopol on Tuesday despite the earlier warning of the UK Foreign Office.
During the trip, which is part of their week-long visit to the Black Sea Peninsula, the veterans will go to the memorial places of the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) and meet with the city governor Sergey Menaylo.
The travellers will also visit the capital Simferopol, Livadia Palace – location of the 1945 Yalta conference – and meet Russian veterans and sailors.
Sevastopol’s Deputy Governor Alexander Reshetnikov thanked the British nationals during a video link-up for being not afraid of coming to Crimea despite the warning of their government.
“You will understand yourself why the West does not want to let its citizens to the peninsula. Then the most important myth on “Crimea’s annexation” will be shattered. Our veterans wait with a sinking of their heart for the meeting with you! You will dispel all the myths yourself and see everything with your own eyes!” the official said.
“I will not comment on the reaction of the UK on your visit to Crimea. Let it be on their conscience. I will just say that Russia is proud by heroes! Forget about all the inconveniences like a nightmare and take advantage of vacation in Crimea,” he said.
Six veterans of the Arctic convoys were originally due to visit Crimea but three cancelled the trip after a UK Foreign Office warning that the situation on the peninsula was allegedly tense. Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as “absolutely groundless”.
Between 1941 and 1945, the Arctic convoys transported more than 4 million tonnes of supplies to the Soviet Union, including over 5,000 tanks and 7,000 aircraft. Some 3,000 sailors died as Nazi forces sank over 100 ships.
In 2012, all 3,300 veterans of the Arctic convoys were awarded the Ushakov medal by President Vladimir Putin.