Nuland outlines US goals for Ukraine conflict
Unless the Crimean peninsula is at the very least “demilitarized” Ukraine won’t feel safe, while the ideal end to the current conflict is with a revolution in Moscow, the US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.
Ukrainians “have to get to a map that is more sustainable for them,” Nuland said in a video interview with the Washington think tank Carnegie Endowment. They have “significant chunks of territory they need to be a viable state, before you even get to the question of Crimea, and that’s what they’re focused on now.”
The US position is that Ukraine is “owed and due all of their territory within their international borders,” which means Crimea as well, Nuland added.
Assigned to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954, Crimea voted to rejoin Russia in March 2014, after the violent coup in Kiev that Nuland helped “midwife,” according to an infamous phone call intercept.
“Ukraine is not going to be safe unless Crimea is – at a minimum, at a minimum – demilitarized,” Nuland insisted on Thursday, claiming that Moscow had turned the peninsula into a military base, with command posts, logistics depots and airfields for “Iranian drones.”
“Those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” she said.
Earlier this week, Politico quoted two anonymous officials to imply that Nuland’s boss, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, had admitted the US was not “actively encouraging” Ukraine to seize Crimea and that any moves on the peninsula would be “Kiev’s decision alone.”
Nuland, however, told Carnegie that the battlefield objectives of Washington and Kiev overlap “in terms of what the Ukrainians want to do on the battlefield, and what we’re enabling them to plan to do.”
Asked how she saw the conflict ending, Nuland said the West “must never trust, as long as Vladimir Putin is in power, or somebody like him, that this is truly over.” Even if the fighting ends on Ukraine’s terms, there “has to be a long-term plan” to build up Ukraine’s military as a deterrent. She also expressed a preference for Russians overthrowing their government for a “better future” offered by the West.
The US has committed more than $100 billion in military aid to Ukraine over the past year alone, but Washington officially insists it is not a party to the conflict.