Ukraine Remains Intent In Reclaiming Crimea
Ukraine said Thursday it is intent in its demand that Russia withdraw its troops from Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014, as well as other territory in eastern Ukraine that Russia claimed last year.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, via video, told the first Black Sea Security Conference in Bucharest, Romania, that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 14th month, is “a bleeding wound in the middle of Europe,” but that all internationally recognized borders of Ukraine must be honored.
“We are united by U.N. Charter principles and the shared conviction that Crimea is Ukraine and it will return under Ukraine’s control,” Kuleba said.
“Every time you hear anyone from any corner of the world saying that Crimea is somehow special and should not be returned to Ukraine, as any other part of our territory, you have to know one thing: Ukraine categorically disagrees with these statements,” he told representatives of 50 countries attending the conference in the Romanian capital.
While Moscow failed in the early stages of the war last year to take control of all of Ukraine, it has continued to control Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine, even as fierce fighting rages in the eastern industrialized territory. Russia claimed to have annexed the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia provinces last September but does not control all the land in the four regions.
There are no signs of peace talks anytime soon, although Ukraine and Russia have several times exchanged prisoners of war and engaged in a wartime deal to export Ukrainian grain and Russian grain and fertilizers.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that highly sensitive U.S. government documents leaked online show that the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that the war is still likely to be going on in 2024 and that even if Ukraine recaptures “significant” amounts of territory and inflicts “unsustainable losses on Russian forces,” it would not lead to peace talks.
“Negotiations to end the conflict are unlikely during 2023 in all considered scenarios,” the document said.
Video shows beheading
Ukrainian officials on Wednesday opened an investigation into a video on social media purportedly showing one of Kyiv’s soldiers being beheaded.
News agencies could not immediately verify the authenticity of the video. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message, “There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill.”
Zelenskyy said the video showed the “execution of a Ukrainian captive” and that “everyone must react. Do not expect that it will be forgotten, that time will pass.”
The video appears to show a man in green fatigues with a yellow armband, typically worn by Ukrainian fighters. His screams are heard before another man in camouflage uses a knife to decapitate him. The man in camouflage and another man both speak Russian.
Ukraine’s state security service has opened an investigation, said Vasyl Maliuk, head of the agency. Officials are studying the video to identify those responsible, as well as to identify the victim.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the footage “horrible” but said that its authenticity needed to be verified.
Ukraine’s human rights chief Dmytro Lubinets said he will request that the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee investigate.
Writing on Telegram, Lubinets said, “A public execution of a captive is yet another indication of a breach of Geneva Convention norms, international humanitarian law, a breach of the fundamental right to life.”
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of committing war crimes and targeting civilians during its invasion of Ukraine, now in its 14th month, while Moscow says it has only targeted military sites and electrical and water infrastructure.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes in the abductions of children from Ukraine.
VOA national security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.