US promises to help Ukraine retake territory
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba that Washington would help Ukraine “regain control of its territory” by force if necessary. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has repeatedly stated that his goal is to seize all lands claimed by Russia, including Crimea.
“The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and…will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically,” Blinken told Kuleba on Saturday, according to a readout of the call provided by State Department spokesman Ned Price.
US President Joe Biden issued the same statement verbatim on Friday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed accession agreements to start the process of bringing the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the regions of Zaporozhye and Kherson, into the Russian Federation.
However, neither Biden nor Blinken has announced any major change in US policy to help Ukraine retake these lands. The latter stated that US arms deliveries – including a $1.1 billion package announced earlier this week – would continue to flow as they have since February.
Zelensky responded to Putin’s move on Friday by declaring that he would never negotiate a peace settlement as long as the Russian president remains in power, and also by signing an application demanding “accelerated” admission to the NATO alliance. Zelensky’s application was rebuffed by NATO and US leaders, however, with the White House declaring that Ukraine’s potential membership in the alliance “should be taken up at a different time.”
Zelensky has repeatedly declared that his forces would retake all Russian-held lands, including Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014, by “any means that we consider correct.” Still, according to Putin, once the Donbass republics and Zaporozhye and Kherson are formally incorporated into Russia, they would be defended with “all means available.”