On the fifth anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Refat Chubarov, spoke about the latest developments on the occupied peninsula.

First of all, Russia has been strengthening Crimea to make the peninsula its outpost, Chubarov said in an interview with the Novoye Vremya weekly.

According to Chubarov, for Russia, Crimea is a territory which it could use to exert influence on NATO's southern flank extending across the Black Sea region and all the way to the Mediterranean.

“Secondly, they don’t need people in this territory who disagree with the occupation. They've been ousting such people from Crimea. And this is happening through systemic repression. It’s not only about intimidation, searches, and arrests, it’s also about the impossibility to develop, which forces entrepreneurs to leave," the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people stressed.

Read alsoChubarov: Crimean Tatars' pro-Ukrainian position five years ago helped to preserve Ukraine

At the same time, Chubarov notes Russia has been resettling its citizens from mainland to the occupied Crimea as an additional factor that would allow Moscow to retain Crimea even in case of its practical de-occupation, which the Kremlin has long ceased to rule out.

"In addition to modern anti-aircraft missile systems, they need hundreds thousands of their citizens there, who are just as valuable as weapons. That's because weapons can be destroyed or withdrawn it's very difficult to do anything about the people already living there," summed up Chubarov.