On Sunday, a senior Ukrainian official outlined his vision for what Kyiv would do if it retakes the Crimean peninsula from Russia.
Russia annexed Crimea following the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv that ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Polling has shown since then that the majority of people living in Crimea are happy they’re part of the Russian Federation.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said people who have worked for the post-2014 administration in Crimea should be prosecuted. He said some should face criminal charges and be banned from holding public positions.
Danilov also wants any Russians who moved to Crimea after 2014 to be expelled and called for the dismantling of the Kerch Bridge, which connects the peninsula to the Russian mainland. The bridge was attacked in a truck bombing in October 2022.
While Danilov and other Ukrainian officials maintain that retaking Crimea is one of its war goals, the Pentagon has said the prospect is unlikely. Russia controls territory to the north of the peninsula that Ukrainian forces would need to push through first before threatening to take Crimea, and it’s not clear if Kyiv has the capability to launch a counteroffensive.
Even though the US doesn’t think Ukraine can retake Crimea, the Biden administration has said it supports attacks on the peninsula despite the risk of escalation. “Russia has turned Crimea into a massive military installation … those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said in February.