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Zelenskyy vows that Ukraine will retake Crimea

August 23, 2022

Speaking at the Crimea Platform conference, Ukraine's president has said Kyiv will use any means it deems fit to recapture the peninsula. He also pledged a strong response to any Russian attacks on Independence Day.

President of Poland Andrzej Duda and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv
President of Poland Andrzej Duda (left) supported President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (center) in his vow to take nack CrimeaImage: Ruslan Kaniuka/Ukrinform/ABACA/picture alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised Tuesday that Kyiv would restore its rule over Crimea. The peninsula was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

"To overcome terror, it is necessary to gain victory in the fight against Russian aggression," he told delegates to the Crimea Platform, an online video conference.

The forum seeks to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity over the peninsula.

"It is necessary to liberate Crimea. This will be the resuscitation of world law and order," Zelenskyy.

The president said Ukraine would recapture Crimea by any means his government deemed right, and that it would not consult other countries before doing so.

Zelenskyy also pledged that any Russian attacks on or around Wednesday, the Independence Day of Ukraine — which marks the end of Soviet rule over the country in 1991 — would be met with a strong response.

Zelenskyy said the military would respond to an attack on Kyiv, the same way it would for any city struck by Russia.

"They will receive a response, a powerful response," Zelenskyy said. "I want to say that each day ... this response will grow: It will get stronger and stronger."

Ukrainian drone attacks hit Russian-held areas

Other leaders vow support for Kyiv's position

Polish President Andrzej Duda, who met Zelenskyy in person, urged other leaders not to turn a blind eye on Russian aggression, or abandon the idea that Ukraine could take back the peninsula.

"Crimea was, remains and will be a part of Ukraine, just like Gdansk is a part of Poland, Nice is a part of France, Cologne is a part of Germany, and Rotterdam is a part of Netherlands," Duda said.

Other leaders who took part in the Crimea Platform virtually said they supported Ukraine in its will not to concede any territory lost to Russia since 2014.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Western leaders "condemn Russia's attempts to forcefully integrate parts of Ukrainian territory. Any sham referenda or other attempts to alter the status of parts of Ukrainian territory will never be recognized."

"Such steps preclude any negotiations," Scholz said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the conference that, since February, Moscow has been using Crimea as a staging post for attacks on Ukraine as well as "a testing ground for the brutal methods Russia is now applying across the other occupied parts of Ukraine."

EU will continue to support Ukraine

Six months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron used the forum to pledge continued EU support for Ukraine.

"Our determination has not changed, and we are ready to maintain this effort for the long term," Macron told participants.

"This destabilization of the international order and the disruptions that have followed, on the humanitarian level, in terms of energy and food, are the consequences of the choice made by Russia and Russia alone to attack Ukraine on February 24," Macron said.

"Against this there can be no weakness, no spirit of compromise, because it's a matter of our freedom, for everyone, and of peace everywhere around the world," he added.

Western allies of Ukraine have supplied Kyiv with billions of dollars in military equipment and other aid.

They are wary, however, of becoming embroiled in a direct fight against Russian forces, which now occupy large swaths of Ukraine's east and south.

dh, rc/rt (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)