Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday reiterated his goal of taking back Crimea from Russia, saying Ukraine will do so by any means necessary. Zelensky made the comments during a summit on Crimea that was attended virtually by about 60 nations.
“I know that Crimea is with Ukraine, is waiting for us to return. I want all of you to know that we will return. We need to win the fight against Russian aggression. Therefore, we need to free Crimea from occupation,” Zelensky said. “It began with Crimea, it will end with Crimea.”
Zelensky still insists that Ukraine will take back all the territory Russia has captured since it invaded on February 24, as well as Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014. But capturing the territories would require a massive military operation, and Ukraine has yet to launch any sort of successful counter-offensive.
In recent weeks, there have been several blasts inside Crimea at Russian military facilities. Official, Kyiv hasn’t taken credit, but Ukrainian officials have hinted at their involvement, and media reports attributed some incidents to Ukraine’s special forces. A US official told Politico last week that Washington supports Ukraine striking Crimea.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Tuesday’s summit and said the “international community” should put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin until all Russian troops leave the peninsula. “Crimea is Ukraine. That was our position in 2014, and it remains in 2022,” he said.
While Zelensky and the US portray Russia’s control over Crimea as an “occupation,” the people of the peninsula voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to join the Russian Federation. The US has denounced the referendum as a sham, but plenty of polls have been held after 2014 that show Crimeans are happy they joined Russia.