The Russian command and Moscow-installed proxies in Crimea have begun evacuation from the occupied peninsula, selling their real estate and taking families away, Andrii Yusov, spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence, said on March 23.
Crimean residents heard a warning on radio stations the day before urging them to prepare for leaving Crimea, Yusov told Ukrainian TV channel Freedom, suggesting the announcement was intended for those cooperating with Russian occupying authorities.
"For there (in Crimea) to be peace and order, it is necessary to liberate the peninsula and bring the legitimate Ukrainian government back there… to return Crimea to its native Ukrainian harbor, which will definitely happen shortly," said the official from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate.
"Therefore, all those who work for Russia had better leave the territory of Ukrainian Crimea soon."
The Crimean peninsula has been under Russian occupation since 2014 following a fake referendum staged by Russia to annex the territory.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion to return all of Ukraine's territory, including Crimea.
On Feb. 18, retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, who commanded U.S. troops in Europe, told the Ukrainian publication Ukrinform that Ukraine has a realistic chance to liberate Russian-occupied Crimea by the end of the summer if it gets long-range missiles.