On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made it clear that Ukraine would not entertain the idea of a peace agreement in the 16-month conflict with Russia as long as Moscow maintains control over Crimea.
In response to a question about the possibility of a scenario where Crimea is no longer a part of Ukraine, Zelenskyy asserted that a “victory and peace” outcome in that regard is unlikely, stating, “There will not be a victory there.”
In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea following the overthrow and exile of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Prior to the annexation, the strategic Black Sea peninsula had been under Ukrainian control since 1954.
The annexation received criticism from the United States and its allies. Despite Ukrainian attempts to restrict water supplies and weaken Moscow’s influence, Russia has maintained a firm grip on the peninsula in the subsequent years.
Zelenskyy has consistently emphasized the significance of liberating Crimea as a crucial step in resolving the conflict, possibly motivated by Ukraine’s notable achievements on the battlefield against Russia.
Ukraine’s performance can be attributed, at least in part, to the substantial support received from the United States. Since the commencement of the war, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with a substantial aid package totaling $75 billion, including additional weaponry, tanks, and various military supplies.
In addition to assistance from the United States, numerous other countries, including various European nations, Japan, Canada, and more, have also provided financial aid, weapons, or supplies to Ukraine.
Last month, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the commander of the Wagner mercenary group, reportedly issued orders for his soldiers to march on Moscow. This unexpected directive created significant turmoil within Russia’s military ranks.
The mutiny was initiated as an alleged protest against the Ministry of Defense’s intentions to assimilate the paramilitary organization into the regular army. This act followed Prigozhin’s assertions that a Russian assault had resulted in the death of several of his soldiers.
According to reports, Prigozhin eventually reached a negotiated agreement with the Kremlin, facilitated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. As a result, he decided to cancel the planned march to Moscow and apparently agreed to go into exile in a neighboring country.
🚨🪦🇷🇺Breaking: "Putin assigned Russia's Federal Security Service to assassinate Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin" – Ukrainian intelligencepic.twitter.com/CWJYlc5IKi
— Terror Alarm (@Terror_Alarm) July 2, 2023
Zelenskyy, meanwhile, voiced his frustration concerning rumors circulating about his alleged meeting with CIA Director William Burns last month.
Zelenskyy commented, “I was surprised to see the information in some media, both in the US and Ukrainian and European media. My communication with the CIA chief should always be behind the scenes because we discuss important things. We don’t have any secrets from CIA because we have good relations, and our intelligence services talk with each other.”