Russian ships and Crimea could be attacked with weapons supplied by the West, says Ukrainian deputy defense minister
Ukraine will crush Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and regain control of Crimea with Western weapons, Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Gavrilov promised during a visit to the UK.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, based in the port city of Sevastopol in Crimea, is “a permanent threat” in Ukraine, and Kyiv needs to sort this out, Gavrilov said in an interview with The Times on Tuesday.
kyiv was waiting to get longer-range weapons from foreign countries before launching an assault, he added.
“We are receiving anti-ship capabilities and sooner or later we will target the fleet. It is inevitable because we have to guarantee the safety of our people,” explained the Deputy Defense Minister.
Gavrilov claimed Ukraine also planned to take over Crimea – which voted overwhelmingly for reunification with Russia in a 2014 referendum after a coup in Kyiv.
According to the official, the Ukrainian government was discussing with its Western backers whether it could use foreign-supplied weapons to target Russian forces on the peninsula.
US officials assured earlier that kyiv promised that US-made weapons, including the М142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket systems, would not be used to attack Russian territory. However, kyiv says it does not consider Crimea to be part of Russia, viewing it as a Ukrainian area occupied by Moscow.
“Sooner or later we will have enough resources to target Russia in the Black Sea and Crimea. Crimea is Ukrainian territory, therefore any target there is legitimate for us,” said the Deputy Defense Minister.
Gavrilov also did not rule out using diplomatic means to reclaim Crimea, saying that “we have to think very carefully about how to do it the right way.”
“Russia will have to leave Crimea if it wants to exist as a country”, Gavrilov insisted.
His statements did not go unnoticed in Moscow, with Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov saying they were “another proof that [Russia’s] the special military operation was a correct and absolutely justified decision because it was the only way to save Ukraine from such rulers” like Gavrilov.
The Deputy Defense Minister is the latest in a string of senior Ukrainian officials to have threatened to use force against Crimea.
Last week, Ukrainian Defense Ministry intelligence spokesman Vadim Skibitskiy also said that kyiv viewed the region as a legitimate target for its forces because it was used as a transport hub by Moscow.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the country’s National Security Council, has warned that if Ukraine’s leadership really decides to attack the peninsula “The Day of Judgment will come to all simultaneously – a quick and hard day.”
Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, citing kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk Accords, intended to give Donetsk and Luhansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to save time and “to create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked.
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