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23 Aug, 2022 18:14

Ukraine will seize Crimea ‘by any means necessary’ – Zelensky

The US has previously backed Ukraine’s sporadic attacks on the Russian region
Ukraine will seize Crimea ‘by any means necessary’ – Zelensky

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced on Tuesday that Ukraine will take the Russian territory of Crimea, by military force if necessary and without consulting any country, including Kiev’s Western backers. The Ukrainian military’s strikes on the peninsula have thus far been limited. 

Speaking at the so-called ‘Crimea Platform’, a Ukrainian-organized gathering of 60 nations and international organizations that back Kiev’s claim of sovereignty over Crimea, Zelensky said that “Ukraine is strong and powerful enough” to make the idea of a “Ukrainian Crimea” a reality.

“We will return Crimea by any means that we consider correct, without consulting with other countries,” Zelensky said, according to Strana.ua, a Ukrainian news outlet. "I know that Crimea is with Ukraine, [and] is waiting for us to return. We need to win the fight against Russian aggression. Therefore, we need to free Crimea from occupation.”

Considered Russian land since imperial times, Crimea was an autonomous republic within the Soviet Union until it was appended to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev in 1954 for logistical reasons. The peninsula remained in Ukrainian hands after the fall of the USSR, until its people voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in 2014, after the Kiev government rejected a number of plebiscites during the 1990s aiming at re-establishing Crimea as an independent republic.

The US-led NATO alliance considers Crimea to be “illegally annexed” Ukrainian territory, and  has demanded that Moscow return the region to Ukrainian control. A US official told Politico last week that Washington has given Ukraine its blessing to strike targets of its choosing in Crimea.

Kiev’s military has carried out a number of these strikes in recent weeks, including a drone attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on Saturday. Explosions at military sites on the peninsula have been blamed by Russia on Ukrainian “sabotage,” but Kiev has neither officially confirmed nor denied responsibility.

With its forces tied up fighting Russian and allied troops in Donbass, Ukraine has relied on drones to carry out its sporadic attacks on Crimea. The aim of these attacks is “not military, but psychological,” Crimean official Oleg Kryuchkov stated after Saturday’s strike, adding that owing to their small payload of explosives, drones are unable to inflict extensive damage.

Zelensky ruled out the prospect of a ceasefire on Tuesday, telling the summit that Ukraine would not freeze the current front line to "calm down Russia." Moscow has repeatedly blamed Kiev for the breakdown of peace talks earlier this year, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accusing Western governments of “keeping Ukraine from any constructive steps” toward a peace settlement.