Thanks everyone for joining the conversation! This was fun. I hope to do it again real soon. In the meantime, be sure to listen to the rest of our series on Crimea this week on Morning Edition, through your local NPR member station or

I recently returned from a reporting trip to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine and annexed earlier this year. My stories, produced by Lauren Migaki, are on air and online this week. They take us to from Russia's newly claimed border in the north all the way to the southern coast along the Black Sea.

Comments: 96 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

atlrockr18 karma

Best meal you had on your assignment? Worst?

nprgreene19 karma

Best = traditional Ukrainian restaurant in Sinferopol. The varenyky was amazing. Worst = a chunk of brown bread with smoked fish-like product (which Lauren, the producer, claims was not fish) a Russian airplane

nprgreene16 karma

Oh - and the best dessert was ANY form of baked good from the Crimean Tatars. They served us lots of them.

karmanaut17 karma

Are people there generally content and think the issue is basically over, or is there uneasiness with the new norm?

nprgreene25 karma

A lot of people are really content with Russian rule, especially pensioners, who have seen their government retirement go up. But there is still a quiet pro-Ukrainian opposition, including among the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority. But it's pretty dangerous to be outspoken about your views if you're against the annexation.

GirlOnInternet5 karma

I'm really curious about this as well. I remember hearing reports from places like Iraq where people were happy to see the dictator power removed, but longed for the days of peace and quiet. Are people upset with the change but wanting to go back to "normal"?

nprgreene19 karma

There are many people with nuanced views. We spoke to one owner of a hostel. She said her mother's dying wish (16 years ago) was for Crimea to return to Russia. She's happy with the change. But, she fears Crimea will become much more isolated and she'll get far fewer western tourists in her hostel -- and that upsets her.

ZPTs10 karma

  1. I know you just took a trip on the Trans-Siberian railroad and wondered if there are pics?

  2. I love Morning Edition--you and Steve make a great pair (and everyone else is great as well). Does he ad-lib his cheesy, sometimes clever remarks (like when you pause for station/show ID)? He does sometimes seem to genuinely catch you all off guard.

nprgreene13 karma

He only makes clever remarks. And, yes, he also sometimes ad libs. You can see photos from my trip on the Trans-Siberian here:

incorrigible_muffin10 karma

Do you think that having an interpreter with you affected the honesty of the answers you received from the people you interviewed? Did you ever think you were missing out on some sort of nuance by not speaking Russian?

(I'm not knocking on your language skills in any way - I'm just curious, plus I think it's awesome that you're willing to do such extensive field work in a country where you don't always know what's being said)

nprgreene8 karma

That's nice. Thanks. We trusted our translator, though, and worked really well with her.

leonkennedy749 karma

Is there still a strong Russian military presence in cities other than Sevastopol? If so, how is this impacting daily life?

nprgreene10 karma

The police are all Russians. We were at a border in the north under the control of Russian authorities. We had read about, but didn't see, a build-up of Russian forces along the border. Some pro-Russian Crimeans joined "self-defense forces" during the takeover, and we were approached by one man who identified himself as such, asking to see our documents.

StateLoveTrust9 karma

What's Belarus like? If you had to guess, how much longer will it last a dictatorship?

nprgreene11 karma

Belarus feels more Soviet today than Russia. Far more. It is like traveling back in time.

uncertainness9 karma

Which polls can be trusted as to the "will of the people"?

Are the majority of Crimeans truly in support of Russia's government? Or has there been evidence of vote-tampering?

nprgreene18 karma

We don't have any polls that we trust. Western observers didn't believe the referendum was fair, though. In the city of Sevastopol, for example, there was reportedly more than 120% turnout, which tells you something.

GM_crop_victim-15 karma

Why is basically every statement of yours CIA-approved talking points? Have you every made a statement on air that the CIA wouldn't 100% agree with? E.g. have you ever described the coup that took place in Maidan as "unfair?"

That sort of reporting is the very reason I stopped donating to WBUR, congrats.

eskimoboob7 karma

Was any of your reporting material subject to review by local authorities before you left the country?

nprgreene9 karma


j_woods27 karma

What was your favorite part of the trip? What was your least favorite?

nprgreene15 karma

Favorite = singing "Pink Houses" by Mellencamp at a Crimean karaoke bar Least favorite = we stayed at a really awful Soviet-style hotel with smoke filled hallways, creaky elevators and really, really, really thin walls

Queequeg327 karma

How did you get your start with NPR?

nprgreene14 karma

I was a print reporter at the Baltimore Sun and loved listening to NPR. I got to know Don Gonyea while we were both covering the White House. He was incredibly supportive -- basically, my tutor when it came to learning radio. Owe him a lot.

amprather7 karma

I kept hearing from numerous news reports that many in Crimea felt that by "re-joining" Russia that their economic lives would improve. Did you hear the same thing?

And if so, is there a real risk that if things DON'T get better there and Ukraine starts to grow due to their new relationship with the EU, that things could get ugly?

nprgreene16 karma

Yes. There is that expectation. For some people, that's happened. Older people have certainly seen their pensions go up. Also, there are some who still dream of Crimea returning to Ukraine, but there the Russian takeover seems complete. Even the people there who oppose the takeover seem to prefer their reality now to violence.

rockafireexplosion7 karma

Hi David! Thanks for the AMA! Does there seem to be any scenario under which Crimea could be returned to Ukrainian rule?

nprgreene10 karma

It doesn't seem that likely. The takeover seems complete.

middleclasshomeless7 karma

As someone who has spent a lot of time in Russia, do you think that the annexation of Crimea is the beginning of Russia reclaiming it's former soviet territory?

nprgreene11 karma

Figuring out Russia's ambitions is one of the big questions today. They've taken Crimea. They are involved in Eastern Ukraine. They supported two breakaway provinces in Georgia. They are clearly up to something. It seems they do want to protect at least some part of their "sphere of influence."

JimboFett6 karma

Did anyone in Crimea mention the Steven Segal concert?

nprgreene6 karma

No! But we were well aware of it but, sadly, no one mentioned it to us.

WorkIsMyBane5 karma

Hi David! Love listening to NPR. Last fall I even became a sustaining member with my local station.

If you were to have made a reddit account during college, what username do you think you might've come up with?

nprgreene10 karma


lemonapplepie5 karma

You've talked about how many of the people seem fairly happy with the way things turned out, although there does seem to be discontent. Did people there ever express a desire or hope that other parts of Ukraine would be annexed by Russia?

nprgreene11 karma

We did speak to pro-Russian refugees from Eastern Ukraine, fleeing the violence there, who said they would prefer to live under Russian rule.

jlynmre5 karma

I was wondering where you had gone! So glad you are back, and without too much damage.

I have been hearing through various articles and reports that the "West" refuses to acknowledge the new boundaries created by this annexation. Does refusal hold any ground to making those permanent changes? Will the map be changed? How and where are these kinds of discussions being had as far as acceptance that this may be a permanent state of affairs. Are the governments involved in any talks about what the future holds for that area?

nprgreene2 karma

We really just spoke to the residents, not policymakers.

coffeebeerandgeology3 karma

In your Morning Edition piece on Monday?, you mentioned going through a check point, mainly emphasizing how it was a display of a more powerful Russian government. Was that the only purpose of the checkpoint that you perceived? Did you hear any stories of others getting stopped and/or delayed because, say they are Tatar and note Russian?

I'm also loving all the NPR AMA's.

nprgreene6 karma

It was an actual border checkpoint that Russia has built between Crimea and Ukraine. Russia treats it like any other international border.

Robert_Arctor3 karma

Thanks David, I really enjoy your work. Is Steve Inskeep a funny guy outside of the studio? He slips some pretty funny stuff in from time to time.

nprgreene6 karma

He's quite often a funny guy and a dear friend.

dimplejuice3 karma

What do you think of the new Russia coin commemorating the annexation? Looks snazzy. They were quick to mint that.

nprgreene3 karma

We haven't seen it. We've seen photos. But, yes, it shows you how proud Russia is of the annexation and how quick they were to lock it down.

NDaveT1 karma

Did you get a sense of how many people in Crimea viewed themselves as Russian, how many viewed themselves as Ukrainian, and how many didn't think about it that much?

nprgreene5 karma

Many people in Crimea viewed themselves as Russian even before the events of this past year.

Ron_Tam1 karma

How do you see the evolution of “radio” as a medium of story telling given the rapid proliferation of online documentary style news reporting a la Vice News, etc. It seems that even the big names like CNN are taking a more story-like approach to content delivery (with shows by Anthony Bourdain & Lisa Ling, etc), something that NPR does very well. Do you foresee NPR breaking out of the “radio” mode into other mediums in the near or far future?

nprgreene6 karma

We've been breaking out of the mold and telling stories across platforms for quite some time now! Check out some of my digital favorites: Planet Money Makes a Tshirt: Steve's trip to the US-Mexico border: Lost and Found: And many other videos, blog posts, interactive graphs and more posted regularly to

wijagain1 karma

Thanks so much for doing this AMA. What was your favorite location to visit in Crimea? Are is any one "behind the scenes" story from your time in Crimea that you'd like share but we won't be hearing about in your reporting?

nprgreene2 karma

Yalta was beautiful -- along the Black Sea, lovely promenade, with a great historical backdrop (site of the Yalta conference towards the end of WWII).