Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, warned Sunday that Russia would consider a US-backed Ukrainian strike on Crimea as serious as an attack on the Russian mainland.
Antonov’s comments came in response to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying the US wouldn’t stop Ukraine from using American-provided weapons on Crimea, a statement that came after President Biden signed off on European countries delivering F-16s to Kyiv.
Sullivan told CNN that “Crimea is Ukraine” despite the peninsula being under Russian control since 2014. “We have not placed limitations on Ukraine being able to strike on its territory within its internationally recognized borders,” Sullivan said. “What we have said is that we will not enable Ukraine with US systems, Western systems, to attack Russia. And we believe Crimea is Ukraine.”
Not restricting Ukrainian attacks on Crimea has been the US position throughout the war. In July 2022, when asked by Antiwar.com if the ban on Ukraine using the HIMARS rocket systems to target Russian territory applies to Crimea, the State Department replied, “Crimea is Ukraine.”
Antonov said that the US’s “unconditional approval of strikes on Crimea” and the provision of F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine “once again make it clear that the US has never been interested in peace.” He said Russia will view strikes on Crimea “as an attack on any other region of the Russian Federation” and said the US should consider a potential Russian response.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously acknowledged that Ukrainian attacks on Crimea are a “red line” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. But other US officials have declared that the US supports Ukraine striking Crimea, including Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.