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On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Kyiv is preparing to launch attacks in an effort to recapture Crimea. The plan for the attacks includes forming new military units and sending forces to train in other countries.
“There are military steps, and we are preparing for them. We are ready mentally. We are preparing technically: with weapons, reinforcements, the formation of brigades, in particular the assault brigades, of different categories and nature,” Zelensky said during a press conference.
According to the local news agency, Ukrinform, Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces were being sent to other countries for training on how to use new weapons. “We have to be ready. Then, there will be corresponding fair de-occupation steps, and, God willing, they will be successful,” he continued.
While other top Ukrainian officials, along with Zelensky, have made it known that recapturing Crimea is one of their main goals for the war, it will be difficult as Russia controls much of the territory north of Crimea in the Kherson Oblast region. Assessments from the Pentagon also indicate that retaking Crimea will be unlikely for Kyiv. The Crimean Peninsula was taken by Russia in 2014.
Despite the Pentagon’s doubt, the Biden administration has said that it will remain supportive of Ukrainian attacks on Crimea. “Russia has turned Crimea into a massive military installation… those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.
However, the U.S. supporting Ukrainian assaults on Crimea would risk a serious escalation with Moscow. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has acknowledged the risk of causing further escalation, referring to the peninsula as a “red line” for Russian President Vladimir Putin
Putin has exhibited a willingness to escalate the war over attacks on Crimea, given that Russia’s relentless missile and drone assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure did not begin until Kyiv bombed the Kerch Bride, which connects Crimea with the Russian mainland.
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, and, according to polling in the region since Moscow’s takeover, the majority of residents in the Crimea Peninsula are happy that their territory joined with Russia.