President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared that the liberation of Crimea is necessary for the end of the conflict in Ukraine.
The president was speaking after several explosions targeted a Russian airbase in Crimea yesterday, Tuesday, August 9.
Without mentioning the explosions from Tuesday, Zelensky declared: “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up.”
According to the Russian defence ministry, ammunition exploded at the base. Ukraine denied being behind the explosions.
Although Crimea is widely acknowledged to be a part of Ukraine, Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 following a referendum that the international community views as invalid. For many Ukrainians, this marked the beginning of their conflict with Russia.
A blockade of the Ukrainian coastline has been led by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Sevastopol, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Novofedorivka and Saky. Russia had launched attacks on targets deep within Ukraine from the airbase.
Social media videos showed beachgoers fleeing as the explosions struck; eyewitnesses reported hearing at least 12 blasts. According to Crimea’s Russian-appointed health department, one person was killed and eight others were injured.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed that the explosions were caused by ammunition that exploded in a store and that there was no “fire impact” from the outside.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential aide from Ukraine, also refuted claims that his country was responsible for the explosions, telling the Dozhd online television channel: “Obviously not. What connection do we have to this?”
In his speech late on Tuesday, Mr. Zelensky did not mention the explosions but instead spoke extensively about the peninsula, declaring: “We will not forget that the Russian war against Ukraine began with the occupation of Crimea.”
“This Russian war…began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation,” he added.
In contrast to previous statements on the subject, Mr. Zelensky’s most recent comments appear to indicate that he thinks Ukraine must retake the peninsula before the war can be declared over.