Ukraine can use American weapons to bomb Crimea – FM
The United States has not barred Ukraine from using American-made weapons to conduct strikes on the peninsula of Crimea, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claimed on Thursday.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Kuleba described the peninsula, which overwhelmingly voted to become part of Russia in 2014, as an internationally recognized Ukrainian territory. While Kiev had promised Washington it would refrain from striking Russian soil with American-supplied weapons, this deal doesn’t apply to Crimea, the minister said.
“Crimea is no different from the rest of Ukraine,” he said, adding that Kiev will “take all of its territories” back, including the peninsula, either by military or by diplomatic means.
“It’s too premature to make any forecasts on the balance between the two,” Kuleba added.
He also accused Russia of not being interested in peace talks, arguing that Moscow is “preparing for new battles” instead. Russian officials have on numerous occasions stated that they are open to diplomatic engagement with Ukraine “without any preconditions” except that Kiev show good will.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also dismissed accusations that Moscow is seeking peace talks with Ukraine as a ploy for a military build-up as a “blatant lie.”
Following the start of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February, the US and its Western allies have been providing Kiev with massive amounts of weaponry. However, Washington has been reluctant to support Ukraine with long-range arms, particularly ATACMS missiles with a range of 300 kilometers, over concerns that such a move could escalate the conflict.
To prevent possible complications, Washington secretly modified its High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) sent to Ukraine to prevent Kiev from conducting strikes deep into Russian territory, The WSJ reported earlier this week.
In mid-September, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned the US that, should it provide Kiev with long-range weapons, this would cross a “red line” and make America “a direct party to the conflict.”