Ukraine gives Russia two options: Leave Crimea peacefully or be ready for battle

Ukraine gives Russia two options: Leave Crimea peacefully or be ready for battle
Опубликовано: Thursday, 06 April 2023 13:58

Ukrainian officials clarify their stance on Crimea negotiations with Russia.


KYIV — Ukraine has not changed its plans for the return of territory occupied by Russia, including Crimea.

“Ukraine will choose the way to bring Crimea back, using political and military means,” Tamila Tasheva, the Ukrainian president’s envoy on Crimea, told POLITICO.

“To minimize Ukrainian military losses, minimize threats to civilians who live in occupied territories, as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructure, Ukraine plans to give Russia a choice on how to leave Crimea. If they don’t agree to leave voluntarily, Ukraine will continue to liberate its land by military means,” Tasheva added.

Her comments come after Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the president’s office, gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he said Ukraine might be ready to discuss the future of Crimea with Moscow if Kyiv succeeds in achieving its strategic goals on the battlefield.

“We are ready to open [a] diplomatic page to discuss this issue,” Sybiha said in the interview, referring to Kyiv’s long-planned counteroffensive. “It doesn’t mean that we exclude the way of liberation [of Crimea] by our army.”

Sybiha’s comments were presented as Ukraine expressing an interest in negotiations with Russia for the first time since it officially ruled out peace talks with Vladimir Putin last fall.

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council adopted a legal resolution on September 30 last year declaring that any negotiations with Putin were impossible in the light of Russia’s attempted annexation of Ukrainian territories in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also cemented Ukraine’s goal of liberating all its territories, including Crimea, in the 10-step peace formula he presented at the G20 summit. “The president has not changed his position,” Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the president’s office, told POLITICO.

Until the invasion of 2022, Ukraine saw political and diplomatic talks as the main way to get Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, back under Kyiv’s control.

But things changed after the full-scale invasion, Tasheva said.

“After what we saw in Bucha, Mariupol, Izyum, Russia closed any possibility for negotiations. And also, many times the Kremlin claimed it won’t have any communications about the future of the Crimean Peninsula,” Tasheva said.

She added that Ukrainian authorities have said multiple times that their stance on Crimea’s status cannot be a matter of discussion — it is Ukrainian territory.

Moreover, Ukrainian officials have been working on a strategy on how to deal with hundreds of collaborators in Crimea after de-occupation, Olexiy Danilov, security and defense council secretary of Ukraine, said in a Facebook post.

His planned proposals include the forced relocation of all Russian citizens who moved to Crimea after 2014, and the return of stolen property to Ukrainians.

“Only the president can decide how to return Crimea. But we are already thinking on ways of how to reintegrate it in the best way,” Danilov told POLITICO.

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