Ukraine threatens to destroy Russian fleet
Ukraine will crush Russia’s Black Sea fleet and regain control of Crimea with Western weapons, the country’s Deputy Defense Minister, Vladimir Gavrilov has vowed during a visit to the UK.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, is “a permanent threat” to Ukraine, and Kiev has to address this issue, Gavrilov said in an interview with the Times on Tuesday.
Kiev was waiting to get longer-range weapons from foreign nations before launching an assault, he added.
“We are receiving anti-ship capabilities and sooner or later we will target the fleet. It is inevitable because we have to guarantee the security of our people,” the deputy defense minister explained.
Gavrilov claimed that Ukraine is also planning to take back Crimea - which overwhelmingly voted to reunite with Russia in a 2014 referendum after a coup in Kiev.
According to the official, the Ukrainian government was holding discussions with their Western backers on whether it could use foreign-supplied arms to target Russian forces on the peninsula.
American officials earlier assured that Kiev had promised that US-made arms, including М142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket systems, would not be used to attack Russian territory. However, Kiev says it doesn’t view Crimea as part of Russia, considering it to be a Ukrainian area occupied by Moscow.
“Sooner or later we will have enough resources to target Russia in the Black Sea and Crimea. Crimea is Ukrainian territory, that’s why any target there is legitimate for us,” the deputy defense minister stated.
Gavrilov also didn’t rule out the use of diplomatic means in order to reclaim Crimea, saying that “we have to think very carefully how to do it in the right way.”
“Russia will have to leave Crimea if they wish to exist as a country,” Gavrilov insisted.
His statements didn’t go unnoticed in Moscow, with Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov saying that they were “yet another proof that [Russia’s] special military operation was a correct and absolutely justified move because it was the only way to save Ukraine from such leaders” as Gavrilov.
The deputy defense minister is the latest in a series of high-ranking Ukrainian officials to threaten the use of force against Crimea.
Last week, spokesman for the intelligence service of Ukraine’s defense ministry, Vadim Skibitskiy, also said Kiev considered the region to be a legitimate target for its forces as its being used as a transport hub by Moscow.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of the country’s National Security Council, warned that if the Ukrainian leadership really decided to attack the peninsula “the Day of Judgment will come to them all simultaneously – a swift and hard one.”
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.