US Gives Ukraine False Hope That It Can Recapture Crimea

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By stating that the US will support Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirms beyond doubt that Washington encourages Kiev’s aggression and escalation of war. However, a possible attack on Crimea will not only fail because the peninsula is well protected, but it will lead to a more devastating retaliation by Russia against the ruling regime in Kiev.

“I’m not going to prejudge where the Ukrainians choose to fight or how they choose to deal with Crimea over the short term, medium term, or long term. We recognise Crimea as Ukraine,” Nuland said during an online discussion organised by Carnegie Endowment on February 16.

“Those [Russian military installations in Crimea] are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” she continued, adding that Ukraine will not be safe unless Crimea is demilitarized as a minimum.

Nuland is effectively inciting Kiev to a new escalation in the conflict even though it will bring more suffering to ordinary Ukrainians. None-the-less, by Ukraine being at war with Russia, it has brought great benefit to the US as their ultimate goal is to weaken the Eurasian Giant. By giving Kiev the false belief that it can conquer Crimea, Washington is effectively emboldening the Ukrainian military to continue their futile war effort.

The US overlooks that Crimea became part of the Russian Federation in accordance to international norms and standards. Crimeans overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia, and this is a harsh reality that the West refuses to acknowledge.

Denial of this reality is seen with the fact that Nuland is encouraging Ukraine to bring terror to Crimea. Effectively, she is not only advocating for the violation of Russia’s sovereign territory, but given her position and the fact that there is no denial or rejection from her superiors, she is expressing the official opinion of the Biden administration.

Washington does not only provide rhetorical encouragement for Ukraine though. The US has delivered billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the Ukrainian military and American instructors are training new soldiers and are active on the battlefield. Moscow has repeatedly warned that military aid to Ukraine will only escalate the conflict further.

Nuland is fully aware that if there was an attack on Crimea, there would be powerful strikes on Ukrainian facilities. Besides this fact, Crimea is well protected and is effectively a fortress with an abundance of anti-aircraft defence systems, ship systems, fighter jets and a many troops. In fact, the bulk of Russia’s military forces in the Black Sea region is concentrated in the Crimean Peninsula.

It should be noted that the Russian Embassy in the United States also responded to Nuland’s statement. The embassy emphasized that Nuland’s statement only confirms US involvement in the conflict.

“It should finally become obvious to the entire international community that the United States is the actual instigator of confrontation in Ukraine. However, Washington’s attempts to use the Ukrainians to inflict a strategic defeat on us are doomed. No one can have the slightest doubt that Russia will protect its citizens and territory,” the embassy warns.

Although President Joe Biden and his administration are undoubtedly provoking further war in Ukraine, not everyone within his party are convinced with the strategy. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said that most people accept that Ukraine will never retake Crimea.

“I think there’s more of a consensus out there that people realize that Ukraine is not going to militarily retake Crimea,” he said on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, adding that at some point there will be a negotiated end to the war.

It is recalled that Pentagon officials told the House Armed Services Committee in a classified briefing in January that Ukrainian forces are unlikely to be able to recapture Crimea from Russian troops in the near future. This is of course a reality that any sensible person would conclude, but by Nuland doubling down that Ukraine could recapture Crimea, a core goal of Kiev’s war with Russia, it serves to only prolong the conflict and the suffering in the country.

As Politico highlighted, the comments by Smith “reflect what appears to be a growing view in Washington that after a year of heavy fighting, some kind of agreement will need to be realized to end the war.”

Albeit, it should not be considered surprising that negotiations need to occur after nearly a year of the conflict, especially if Ukraine wants to quickly make an economic recovery. However, the comments by Nuland demonstrates that although Washington begrudgingly accepts that Moscow will win the war, it is prepared to fully exhaust Ukraine in the hope of weakening Russia.


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Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher. 

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Articles by: Ahmed Adel

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