Ukraine’s attempt to reclaim Russia-annexed Crimea will be a red line for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Therefore, the United States does not encourage Kyiv’s plans to return the peninsula, State Department Secretary Anthony Blinken said during an online conversation with a group of experts on February 15. Politico writes about this, citing four sources familiar with the content of the conversation.
However, Blinken emphasized that Kyiv independently makes decisions about its military plans. Washington is trying to help Ukrainian forces advance to “where the struggle is going on, mainly in the east.” According to two sources, Blinken hinted that the U.S. did not see the offensive in Crimea as a “wise move.” Other sources took Blinken’s words as Washington’s readiness to accept any decision by Kyiv.
“The overall message is that there is a lot of uncertainty about how things will go from here, with real questions about either side’s ability to make big headway,” one interlocutor explained.
Earlier, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, expressed skepticism about the possibility of Ukraine to regain all the territories occupied by Russia. “I still maintain that this year it will be very, very difficult to militarily expel Russian forces from every inch of Ukraine,” Milley said on January 20.
Ukraine will not conduct military operations in Crimea, but will isolate the peninsula, said former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker. “There are three critical points: a land bridge to Russia, a bridge across the Kerch Strait and a naval base in Sevastopol. They have to knock out all three,” Volker said. According to him, this will leave Russian forces in Crimea without support and will be a serious blow.
To strike at military targets in Crimea, the United States handed over Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) missiles with a range of up to 150 km to Ukraine. These are US-Swedish homing missiles that are launched from HIMARS multiple rocket launchers. Against this background, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, said that Kyiv was going to return Crimea by the summer of 2023.
“Crimea will be returned to us. I’ll tell you more: it all started in Crimea in 2014, and it will all end there,” Budanov said. At the same time, he ruled out that Moscow would use nuclear weapons in response to the return of Crimea to Kyiv.
“Russia is a country from which you can expect a lot, but not outright idiocy. Sorry, but this won’t happen. A nuclear strike will lead not only to the military defeat of Russia, but also to the collapse of Russia. And they know it very well, ”concluded Budanov.
Source: Moscow Times