US supports Ukraine attacking Crimea – Politico
The US regards Ukrainian strikes on Crimea as fair game for "self-defense purposes,” Politico reported on Thursday, citing an unnamed official in President Joe Biden’s administration.
Washington won’t stand in the way of attacks on the peninsula “if Kiev deems them necessary,” the outlet reported. Historically Russian, Crimea was part of independent Ukraine from 1991 to 2014 before locals voted to reunify with Moscow.
“We don't select targets, of course, and everything we've provided is for self-defense purposes. Any target they choose to pursue on sovereign Ukrainian soil is by definition self defense,” the anonymous official said.
Asked by Politico if the Biden administration considered the peninsula sovereign Ukrainian territory, the official said: “Crimea is Ukraine.”
Crimea broke away from Ukraine following an armed coup in Kiev in 2014 and voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to join Russia, which was not recognized by the West.
A Ukrainian official told the outlet that the "message of support” from Biden’s administration “had made its way to Kiev."
Politico’s reporting echoes earlier comments by Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov. Reznikov told US government-funded broadcaster Voice of America on Thursday that Kiev’s promise not to attack Russian territory with Western-provided weapons does not cover Crimea – and that Washington had not objected to Ukrainian attacks there.
Powerful explosions near a Russian ammunition depot rocked the village of Mayskoye in northeastern Crimea on Tuesday. It was the second such incident in a matter of weeks, with a series of explosions also happening at the Saki military airfield earlier in the month, injuring 14 people and killing one.
Russia's Ministry of Defense said the recent strikes were acts of "sabotage" and caused damage to civilian objects, including power lines, a power station, a railroad and several residential buildings.
Ukraine has not directly confirmed responsibility for the recent attacks, but following the incident at the Saki airfield, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said the war "began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – its liberation."