On a high-profile visit to Crimea on Monday, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev pledged to make the peninsula’s development a “national priority”.

Mr. Medvedev brought with him a near full Russian government to Crimea for a cabinet meeting devoted to plans to uplift the region’s crumbling infrastructure and build up its economy.

“People in Crimea mustn’t lose anything after joining Russia, they must only make gains,” Mr. Medvedev said in televised remarks from Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.

A special government Ministry has been created in Moscow to oversee Crimea’s development as a special economic zone with lower taxes and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors.

Moscow would also subsidise air fares to make Crimea as popular with Russian tourists as it used to be in Soviet times.

“We must create a new investment history for Crimea, which will be more successful than what it has been,” Mr. Medvedev said.

The Russian Premier promised that Moscow will quickly boost salaries and pensions for the people of Crimea and pour in funds to improve education, health care and employment.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Monday that the residents of Crimea would get a deferral from the draft for one year and for several years after that would be allowed to serve on the peninsula.

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