This summer, the Black Sea beaches of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula are crowded not only with tourists but also with the somber presence of bomb shelters and sandbags. For over two years, these beaches, annexed by Moscow in 2014, have been perilously close to the violent conflicts of the war in Ukraine. In June, fragments of Ukrainian missiles claimed four lives, including two children, on a beach in Sevastopol, injuring 151 others. Russian state TV footage depicted victims being transported away on sun loungers.

The war, which Russia terms a 'special military operation,' has claimed thousands of Ukrainian civilian lives and a smaller number within Russia or in regions like Crimea, which Russia asserts it has annexed. At Uchuyevka beach near Sevastopol, sunbathers now coexist with a concrete bomb shelter fortified by sandbags, a stark reminder of the war's intrusive impact on everyday life.

Irina, a tourist from Belarus, a close Russian ally, remarked, 'In my opinion, the bomb shelters are necessary.' She added, 'We are visiting friends here, and we were told it is very scary, but there are shelters and all safety measures are observed, which I think is very important.' Mikhail Razvozhaev, Sevastopol's Russian-appointed governor, recently emphasized the need for additional defense measures, accusing Ukrainian authorities of being unhinged.

Ukraine has repeatedly targeted Russian military installations in Crimea with air and naval strikes. Despite this, hordes of Russian tourists still flock to the peninsula annually for their vacations. Alexander Zhukovskiy, a Russian tourist, commented, 'Probably, it will be calmer to be on the beach, to rest when you are sure that at any moment you can get under protection. So yes, they are needed.'