US not actively encouraging Ukraine to retake Crimea: Reports
The US Secretary of State says the US assisting Ukraine in seizing Crimea would represent a red line for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken on Wednesday said in a video call with experts that the United States is not actively encouraging Ukraine to retake control of Crimea, but the decision is Kiev’s alone, Politico reported, citing four sources.
According to the report, the US administration’s main focus is to assist Ukraine in Donbass.
After someone on the call asked if Washington was willing to assist Ukraine in seizing Russia's Crimea, Blinken considered that this would represent a red line for Russian President Vladimir Putin that could provoke a wider response from Moscow.
It is noteworthy that Crimea became part of Russia following a referendum held in March 2014, in which nearly 96% of Crimeans voted for accession to Russia.
While Ukraine still considers the peninsula to be its own territory, Russia has repeatedly stressed that the decision made by the Crimean people was in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Crimea issue is "closed".
Read more: US position on Crimean Peninsula 'declaration of war': Crimea
In early February, Politico also reported that four senior US Defense Department officials told House Armed Services Committee lawmakers during a classified briefing that Ukrainian forces are unlikely to be able to recapture Crimea from Russian troops in the near future.
The report indicated that there are no clear indicators as to what led the briefers to that assessment, but three people with direct knowledge of the briefing indicated that the Pentagon does not believe Ukraine has the capabilities to force Russian troops out of the peninsula.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Andriy Yermak, an advisor for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, rejected the idea of a Ukrainian victory without capturing Crimea, saying, "This is absolutely unacceptable."
Victory means "restoring Donbass and Crimea," Yermak stressed.
In late January, Zelensky's advisor Mykhailo Podolyak revealed that after closing deals with Western countries for tank deliveries, Kiev is now discussing the supply of long-range missiles and planes to launch strikes on Crimea.
"There are two very important issues are being negotiated now: long-range missiles that will allow the destruction of the Russians' rear infrastructure, primarily artillery depots, a very powerful number of which are in Crimea, and aviation," Podolyak indicated.
Read more: US considering providing Ukraine with weapons to hit Crimea: Reports